The No. 81?
Or how about the 08 for '08?
It's not clear what number Dale Earnhardt Jr. will use when he starts a new chapter in his driving career at Hendrick Motorsports, but we now know he won't keep the No. 8.
"We've been working hard to secure the No. 8 for Dale Jr.'s car number next season," Marshall Carlson, general manager at Hendrick Motorsports, said in a statement issued Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we couldn't reach a point where the terms made sense."
The terms Carlson referred to were negotiations with Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team Earnhardt Jr. will leave at the end of this season. Although NASCAR owns the rights to car numbers, any number switch is traditionally worked out between teams.
Indications are that the price sought by DEI -- and its CEO, Teresa Earnhardt -- for use of the number got too steep.
"Our hope was to carry the No. 8 with Dale Jr. to his new team, but the last proposal Hendrick Motorsports received from DEI just wasn't viable," said Kelley Elledge, Earnhardt Jr.'s sister who manages the business side of his career.
The No. 8 is the only number Earnhardt Jr. has used in his 277 Nextel Cup starts. His late grandfather, Ralph, primarily used that number in his legendary short-track career.
Earnhardt Jr. has mentioned the No. 81 as a possible alternative. He has used that number for seven of his 96 career starts in the Busch Series