Earnhardt can‘t take No. 8 with him

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not be taking his familiar No. 8 with him to Hendrick Motorsports next season.

Although teams do not own numbers — they are leased through NASCAR — DEI had the first right of refusal on the No. 8, and Hendrick officials said Wednesday they were unable to reach an agreement that would have made DEI pass on choosing the number for 2008.

"Obviously, he has a tremendous history with that number, and we know how important it is to his fans. Unfortunately, we couldn‘t reach a point where the terms made sense, and now we have to move forward with other options."

Earnhardt is widely recognized with his red Bud car and number, so this turn of events will give him a fresh new look next season. But having to part with his grandfather‘s number was difficult.

"It was a difficult decision, but all of us agreed that it was best to move in another direction," she said. "There‘s disappointment, of course, but we look forward to working with Hendrick Motorsports on what will be a great program for Dale Jr. and his fans in 2008."

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