NASCAR: Notable names in the history of car number 88

Take a look at some of the legends who’ve raced car number 88 in the NASCAR Cup Series, including Dale Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip and the Alabama Gang.

When thinking about racing families in NASCAR‘s past, the names Allison, Jarrett, Earnhardt and Waltrip are some that come to mind. All four of those family names belong to drivers who once raced the #88 in the Cup Series, making its history a story worth telling.

The overall stat line for the double-eight is this: 76 wins, 402 top five finishes, 699 top 10 finishes, 62 pole positions, 21,798 laps led and an average finish of 16.0 in 1,714 races.

The driver who found the most success in the #88 car was Dale Jarrett.

Following a decade of partial or full-time rides in the Cup Series, which netted him a win for Wood Brothers Racing and two victories for Joe Gibbs Racing, Jarrett joined Robert Yates Racing in 1995, driving the #28 Ford with crew chief Larry McReynolds.

The following year, Jarrett moved to the #88 Ford with the same team. He was paired with crew chief Todd Parrott, who remained atop the pit box through 2002. Jarrett recorded 28 of his 32 wins and the 1999 championship behind the wheel of the #88 Ford, which he drove through the 2006 season before finishing his career at Michael Waltrip Racing.

From 1973 to 1982, the #88 car belonged to the DiGard Motorsports stable. The driver with the most starts in the car was Darrell Waltrip.

Waltrip joined DiGard Motorsports and the #88 team during the 1975 season, taking the car to victory lane in his eighth race with the team at Richmond Raceway. Waltrip recorded 26 of his 84 career wins in the #88 Chevrolet from 1975 to 1980 before joining forces with Junior Johnson & Associates and going on to win three championships behind the wheel of the #11 car.

As with Waltrip, 1983 champion Bobby Allison spent time in the #88 car, but he won his title in another car. Allison drove the #88 car full-time for DiGard Motorsports in 1982 before using the #22 for the team and winning the championship the following year.

Allison recorded eight wins, 14 top five finishes and 20 top 10 finishes during the 1982 season. The Hueytown, Alabama native also spent one race in the #88 Dodge for owner Neil Castles in 1970.

When it comes to Hueytown and the Allison name, the #88 car has more than just Bobby. The elder Allison’s younger brother, Donnie, also spent time in that car number, as did Charles “Red” Farmer.

The three drivers became known as the “Alabama Gang,” a group which called Hueytown home. But they were actually from a different state altogether, originally from the Miami, Florida area.

Donnie Allison drove the #88 Chevrolet part-time for DiGard Motorsports between 1973 and 1975, and he drove the #88 Pontiac in two races for Cliff Stewart Racing in 1983. Farmer drove the #88 Ford for Long-Lewis in his only two races of 1960. Neither the younger Allison nor Farmer won any races in the #88 car.

My last article was about the history of car #2; funny enough, #2 and #88 are the only car numbers used by all three members of the “Alabama Gang” at some point in their careers.

Another family connection involving the #88 belongs to the Bakers. Buck Baker drove the car in a number of events in the 1950s and 1960s, winning two races in 1954 and one race in 1959 behind the wheel of the #88 Chevrolet for Lynton Tyson.

Buck’s son Buddy drove the #88 car in a couple of races in 1959, just like his father, and a few more races in the 1960s. He resumed using the #88 for a full 1985 campaign, a partial schedule from 1986 to 1988 and two more races in 1991. Buddy did not record any of his wins in the #88.

One of the most popular drivers to pilot the #88 car was Dale Earnhardt Jr. While Earnhardt was the only member of his family to use that number, his grandfather Ralph used the #188 for Petty Enterprises during a partial schedule in 1957.

Dale Jr. joined Hendrick Motorsports and the #88 team in 2008 after driving the #8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Earnhardt won nine races while running the #88 Chevrolet full-time until he retired at the end of the 2017 season, although he did miss a combined 20 races in 2012 and 2016 due to concussions.

One of the substitute drivers for Earnhardt behind the wheel of the #88 Chevrolet in 2016 was Jeff Gordon, less than a year removed from his initial retirement. Gordon had spent his entire 24-year career behind the #24 Chevrolet, winning 93 races and four championships. He drove the #88 Chevrolet in eight races and recorded best finish of sixth place at Martinsville Speedway.

Another driver who filled in for Earnhardt during the 2016 season was Alex Bowman, who took over the full-time driving duties of the #88 Chevrolet in 2018 after Earnhardt retired. The current driver of the #88 Chevrolet won at Chicagoland Speedway last June and Auto Club Speedway earlier this year.

As for other notable drivers of the #88 car, Joe Weatherly finished in 11th place in his lone race with the number in 1963 at Augusta Speedway. Weatherly secured one of his two championships that season.

Richard Brickhouse, who famously won a driver-boycotted race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1969, drove the #88 Dodge in two races that season, and 1989 champion Rusty Wallace drove the #88 Pontiac full-time for Cliff Stewart Racing in 1984.

While it may not be the most winningest car number in NASCAR Cup Series history, the early career success of Darrell Waltrip, the popularity of Dale Earnhardt Jr., the championship success of Dale Jarrett and the historic connection of the Alabama Gang makes the #88 one of the most legendary numbers in the sport’s history.