UPDATE January 25, 2019 at 5pm ET: Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to Twitter and released a video about how his team acquired the No. 8 from BJ McLeod Motorsports. Earnhardt states in the video that his intentions were to swap numbers with BJ McLeod Motorsports for the Darlington race weekend, so Earnhardt himself could run a throwback No. 8 car.
However, Earnhardt explains that NASCAR doesn’t allow teams to swap car numbers for one weekend. Earnhardt says he then asked BJ McLeod if he would allow JR Motorsports to take possession of the number for 2019, and McLeod agreed.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) January 25, 2019
Original story January 25, 2:40pm ET:
JR Motorsports announced on Friday that they are shuffling the deck on their car numbers for the 2019 season, but the biggest news in the announcement is that the No. 8 is back in possession of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who drove with the iconic car number in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Dale Earnhardt Inc. from 1999 to 2007.
“Everybody remembers the number on the side of the car,” said team co-owner Earnhardt Jr. “The No. 8 is very special to me and to JR Nation. There’s a lot of history with the No. 8 in my family and in NASCAR. It’s time to write some new stories and continue to add to the number’s rich heritage.”
The No. 8 will be shared by five different pilots in 2019 including rookie Zane Smith, Spencer Gallagher, Ryan Preece, Ryan Truex and Jeb Burton.
Gallagher will get things started off in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opening race at Daytona, as he is the team’s restrictor plate representative. Gallagher will also be behind the wheel for the race at Talladega and the July Daytona event.
Preece will get his first crack in the car at Atlanta. Preece will also run Auto Club Speedway, Pocono and Watkins Glen.
Smith climbs behind the wheel at Las Vegas, Bristol, as well as both events at Richmond, Dover and Iowa.
Truex’s drive begins with ISM Raceway at Phoenix and continues at Las Vegas in September, Charlotte in September and Kansas in October.
Burton will also drive at both Texas races, Charlotte in May, Chicago and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For Truex and Burton, this will be the strongest team they have ever driven for. Pressure will certainly be on to get their first-career victory in the No. 8.
Noticeably, there are some 2019 Xfinity Series races unaccounted for the No. 8 team. There is no word yet on the driver lineup for the remainder of the season just yet.
Additionally, Taylor Moyer was revealed to be the crew chief for the No. 8 team in a press release.
Other nuggets in the announcement included that Noah Gragson will actually drive car No. 9, despite being announced as the driver of the No. 1 previously.
Michael Annett’s Pilot Flying J car will shift from No. 5 to No. 1.
Justin Allgaier will stay with the No. 7 that he has raced for several seasons.
“Things will look a little different for team JRM when we unload at Daytona,” said General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller. “But we’re looking forward to it. I think anytime you make changes like this, it’s exciting. The No. 8 will always be a fan favorite and we take a lot of pride in being able to run that number.”
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