NASCAR & Auto Racing

Robert Yates: Yielding number a salute to Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt

Robert Yates said he wanted to be remembered in NASCAR as a fair owner.

That’s why Yates, retiring at the end of the season, said it was only right he transferred the No. 88 to Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Yates’ association with the Earnhardt family dates back four decades and and he told reporters at the back of a team hauler Friday about learning respect from Junior’s grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, and the appreciation he always had for Dale Earnhardt.

Ralph Earnhardt drove the No. 88 Olds in 1957, and Yates said he was a believer in tradition and the importance of NASCAR families in the sport’s history.

“I have a lot of reasons why I wanted to do that, and I’m happy to do it,” he said.

“This is for Ralph and Dale Sr.”

Robert Yates Racing won the 1999 Cup championship with Dale Jarrett driving the No. 88. Ricky Rudd drove the No. 88 for most of this season until a separated shoulder forced him out of the car. Kenny Wallace will drive the car Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet next season after stepmother Teresa Earnhardt refused to give up her rights to the No. 8.

“He’s going to do a great job with the number,” Yates said. “They’ll do that number justice. I think they’ll take the 88 where it needs to be.”