NASCAR: What number will Dale Jr. run in his return?

Dale Jr., JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Dale Jr., JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Dale Jr. is set to return to NASCAR for his annual one-off Xfinity Series appearance in this Friday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

Last October, Dale Jr. announced that he would be returning to the NASCAR Xfinity Series for a fifth one-off appearance since his retirement from full-time Cup Series competition in 2017.

Earnhardt announced that he would be making his 2022 start in the spring race at Martinsville Speedway, a venue at which he has said he would love to compete for years.

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This race, the Call 811 Before You Dig 250 Powered by, is scheduled to take place this Friday, April 8.

Now this highly anticipated start is right around the corner.

The JR Motorsports co-owner, who is set to pilot a fifth Chevrolet for his team in this Friday night’s 250-lap race around the four-turn, 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) oval in Ridgeway, Virginia, has not yet won a race since beginning this one-off tradition in 2018, but he has run well.

Earnhardt, a 24-time Xfinity Series race winner, finished in fourth place at Richmond Raceway in 2018 before finishing in fifth at Darlington Raceway in 2019 and then fifth again at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2020. In 2021, he returned to Richmond Raceway and finished in 14th.

While this is set to mark Earnhardt’s fifth consecutive one-off appearance at NASCAR’s second highest level of competition, it is set to mark something that we have not seen since 2018.

The 47-year-old Kannapolis, North Carolina native is set to pilot the #88 Chevrolet in Friday night’s race.

Earnhardt has not run the number 88, the number he used during his time with Hendrick Motorsports from 2008 to 2017, since he made his first post-retirement one-off appearance at Richmond Raceway back in 2018.

In 2019, 2020 and 2021, he used the number 8, which is a throwback to both his grandfather Ralph and father Dale Sr. — and also the number he used from 2000 to 2007 when he competed for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

Upon his move to Rick Hendrick’s team, he shifted to number 88 due to the fact that Teresa Earnhardt vetoed him from taking the number 8 with him.

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Fox Sports 1 is set to broadcast Friday night’s race live from Martinsville Speedway beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Start your free trial of FuboTV today so you don’t miss any of the action!