How much does it really matter anymore what number is on a particular Cup driver's car today? There's plenty of buzz and opinion about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s future number. But how important could it be?
I was thinking about numbers while watching qualifying at MIS on Friday. Mark Martin was an early qualifier, driving the #01 U.S.Army car, that already seems rightfully attached to Mark.
David Ragan's run in the #6 car was later. I was standing above the exit from pit road to the garage area and Ragan took his car directly to the garage after his run. As he drove below me, I realized that, mostly what I thought as I watched him was "there goes David Ragan". Now I always considered the #6 as one of NASCAR's branded car/driver combos. When it was announced that Mark Martin was leaving that team and the seat would be filled by this kid, David Whathisname, I felt the way many Dale Jr. fans must feel now - that nobody will ever look right in that car but the guy who made it famous.
Michigan is home to the great Bob Seger. Seger has a song, "Feel like a number". As I watched the #6 drive back to the paddock I thought of that song.
I feel like a number
I"m not a number
Now it sure looks to me like either the #8 or the Kelloggs #5, a sponsor/car number brand built mostly by Terry Labonte, are in for similar change. If we can feel comfortable with Mark Martin in the #01 car in less that half a season, how long will it take to embrace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a #5, black, Nike liveried ride that wins races?
Mark Martin drives the #01. David Ragan drives the #6. And it's OK.
Picture credit: Not sure. I found it unattributed, our own Dave Ragan pic having succumbed to the ON PIT ROW gremlins. Hate those guys.