Cup Drivers Who’ve Gone Through the Most Car Numbers

Alex Bowman & Kurt Busch at the 2014 Coca Cola 600The conversations we have in this house about NASCAR are varied and often. This one came up one morning while getting ready for work and school respectively. We were talking about Carl Edwards switching from the 99 of past years to JGR’s No. 19. Then we started talking about Sprint Cup drivers, and who has gone through the most numbers.

This in no way an extensive list, and with me being only a few years into the sport, it’s obviously skewed to modern-day NASCAR. It is also focused solely on the Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup series.

I initally thought it would be someone who’s only driven for second or third tier teams, but there are some big names on the list.

Kurt Busch – 6 Numbers

Immediately, Kurt Busch came to mind. Just since I’ve been watching the sport, he’s been in the Blue Deuce (and then swapped with Brad Keselowski to the No. 22), the 51 of Phoenix racing, the 78 of Furniture Row Racing and now the 41 of Stewart-Haas Racing. He started out his Cup career for Rousch in the No. 97, making for a total of six numbers throughout his Cup career.

AJ Allmendinger – 8 Numbers

AJ Allmendinger and TylerAllmendinger made his Cup debut with Red Bull Racing, driving the driving the No. 84 Red Bull Dodge.

After an 11th place finish in the 2008 Watkins Glen race, Allmendinger signed a one-race contract with Michael Waltrip Racing, driving the No. 00. Allmendinger then replaced fellow former open-wheel star Patrick Carpentier at Gillett Evernham Motorsports in the No. 10 Valvoline Dodge.

In 2010, he took over for Reed Sorenson in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 and also raced for Richard Petty in the renumbered No. 44, where he was able to finish third in his Daytona 500 debut.

When Kurt Busch and Penske Racing parted ways after the 2011 season, Allmendinger took over the No. 22 at Penske. Dinger was suspended after failing a drug test in 2012, and was dropped by Penske. Allmendinger returned to NASCAR at Charlotte Motor Speedway, driving for Phoenix Racing in the No. 51. Eventually, Allmendinger moved to the No. 47 at JTG Daugherty Racing in place of Bobby Labonte where he’s still racing as of the date of this post, and where he’s just announced extending his seat time in the no. 47 for another 5 years with the single car team.

David Reutimann – 8 Numbers

david-reutimannDavid Reutimann made his what was then the Nextel cup debut with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007, driving the No. 00. A year later Reutimann ran the first five races No 00 again, but then took over for the retiring Dale Jarrett in the No. 44 UPS-sponsored car. In 2009, Reutimann returned to the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine-sponsored car of MWR. At the end of 2011, Reutimann signed up to drive for part-time with Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2012 sharing the No. 10 Go Daddy car with rookie Danica Patrick. With Patrick driving the No. 10 in the 2012 Daytona 500, Reutimann drove the No. 93 Toyota Camry for BK Racing.

Like Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger, Reutinman’s career has put him briefly behind the wheel of the Phoenix Racing No 51. Reutimann drove the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing at the 2007 June Pocono race during a one-race suspension of Kurt Busch. Reutimann then qualified and raced for the then new team Xxxtreme Motorsports at the fall Phoenix race in the No. 44 No Label Watches Ford, finishing 40th.

In January of 2013, BK Racing announced that Reutimann would drive the No. 83 Toyota during the 2013 season. The No. 83 team finished 16th in the Daytona 500, but ended the season 33rd in points.

In 2014, Reutiman attempted to qualify for six races in the No. 35 Ford of Front Row Motorsports. He qualified for three.

Technically, Reutimann would have possibly had a ninth number in 2015, driving for FRM, but he failed to renew his NASCAR license.

Michael Waltrip – 10 Numbers

The younger Waltrip brother made his Cup debut in 1985 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte driving for Dick Bahre in the No. 23. Still with the team in his sophomore year, driving the No. 23 Kool-Aid-sponsored car Waltrip finished second in the Rookie of the Year contest to Alan Kulwicki. Waltrip then finished his time with Bahari Racing in the Pennzoil-sponsored No. 30. Fast forward to end of 1995. Waltrip joined Wood Brothers Racing to drive their No. 21 Citgo-sponsored Ford.

Three years later, Waltrip departed the Wood Brothers team at the end of 1998 to drive the No. 7 Philips-sponsored Chevrolet for Mattei Motorsports, posting three Top 10 finishes.

Waltrip joined Dale Earnhardt’s new cup team in 2001, driving the NAPA sponsored No. 15. his first race in the the No. 15 was the Daytona 500, where he broke his long streak of 462 consecutive Cup races without a victory. His teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished right behind him in 2nd. But famously and sadly, the win itself was rightfully subdued and overshadowed by Earnhardt, Sr.’s fatal crash on the last lap.

55Early in 2006, Michael Waltrip and president of Jasper Motorsports, Doug Bawel formed Waltrip-Jasper Racing. Waltrip raced their No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Car in the 2006 Nextel Cup Series. Later in the year Waltrip failed to qualify for the first time since 1998 at Charlotte’s Coca-Cola 600. To keep his streak of 262 consecutive races alive, he bought a slot from the No. 74 McGlynn Racing Dodge from Derrike Cope to drive in the race.

In 2010, Waltrip drove the No. 51 for the 2010 Daytona 500 and several other races that year in the 55. Waltrip, more than anyone else has jumped around in numbers, revisiting past ones — with the 55 and 15 being prominent.

Always a fan of the restrictor plate races, Waltrip setup a single-race deal with Hillman Racing in 2012 to race the Daytona 50, finishing 35th.

In 2014, Waltrip ran 4 races in the No. 66 for Identity Ventures Racing owned by Jay Robinson, Mark Bailey and James Hamilton — a joint partnership with MWR.

old-visualIn the current 2015 season, Waltrip has again revisited the No. 55 piloting duties at the restrictor plate tracks, filling in for Brian Vickers, before ultimately putting David Ragan in for the remainder of the 2015 season.

Joe Nemechek – 15 Numbers

Like Waltrip, Joe Nemechek has been around the Sprint Cup garage for many years, and has had almost as many numbers. In 1994, Nemecheck joined Larry Hedrick Motorsports, driving the No. 41 Chevrolet.

The following year with sponsorship from Burger King Nemechek was able to upgrade his No. 87 Busch team to the Cup series. Later that season, as the No. 87 dropped to 34th in points, he shut down the team and was signed to drive the No. 42 for SABCO Racing.

For the 2000 season, Joe Nemechek went to Andy Petree Racing, racing the No. 33, finishing a career-best fifteenth in points.

For the 2002 Cup season, the No. 33 team was without a sponsor. Nemecheck left AOR for Haas-Carter Motorsports, piloting the No. 26 Ford Taurus after Jimmy Spencer left the team to drive at Chip Ganassi Racing. But the No. 26 also soon experienced sponsorship woes as its primary sponsor, Kmart filed for bankruptcy.

Nemechek quickly signed to replace Johnny Benson, the driver of the No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac, and a few races later, in May of 2002, Hendrick Motorsports named Joe Nemechek as the interim driver of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet.

For the 2004 season, Nemechek went back to MB2/MBV Motorsports, taking over No. 01 U.S. Army car. In 2006, MB2 was rebranded as Ginn Racing after Bobby Ginn’s purchased the team. Nemechek was switch to Ginn’s No. 13 CertainTeed sponsored car. When the No. 13 team was shut down, he signed on with E&M Motorsports, driving the No. 08 Fans On Board Dodge, but eventually signed a three-year deal with Furniture Row Racing, driving their still utilized today No. 78 car.

In an economic downturn, FRR announced they were going to run a limited schedule and released Nemechek from his contract for 2009. Nemechek brought back NEMCO Motorsports, running the No. 87 Camry on the Cup circuit.

In 2014, in partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing, Nemechek drove the No. 66 car at select dates. The partnership was run under the name, Identity Ventures Racing, but Nemechek parted ways midway through the 2014 season. He finished out the year running in the RAB Racing No. 29 and the Randy Humphrey Racing No. 77.

For 2015, Nemechek ran the Front Row Motorsports No. 34, filling in for David Ragan, who had gone over to substitute for the injured Kyle Busch.

So while there are probably a lot of other multiple number Cup drivers out there, these are a few of the prominent ones from the current era of NASCAR racing. I’d love your comments and additions in the comments section below.

9 thoughts on “Cup Drivers Who’ve Gone Through the Most Car Numbers

  • May 12, 2015 at 3:53 pm
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    AJ drove the “44” for The King as well. Elliott Sadler pushed him into position to qualify for the Daytona 500. Actually I believe he finished 3rd in the Valvoline #44.

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  • May 12, 2015 at 3:56 pm
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    Ok, Michael Waltrip drove the Pennzoil number 30 forever. What am I missing here.

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    • May 12, 2015 at 4:15 pm
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      Mike, you’re not missing anything. I did. Thanks for the two additions. They’ve been added to the article.

      Reply
  • May 14, 2015 at 10:03 am
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    Mikey also raced a number 40 for Hillman Racing in a one race deal in the 2012 Daytona 500. He finished 35th.

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    • May 14, 2015 at 10:10 am
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      Thanks! I’ve updated the article and Waltrip’s tally — 10 Cup numbers!

      Reply
    • May 14, 2015 at 10:22 am
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      Good call. I’ll work through that addition as time allows.

      Reply
  • May 14, 2015 at 11:08 am
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    I forwarded your article to my Dad. He says it is a bit of stretch, but Morgan Shepard last raced in the Cup level in 2014, and owing to his longevity and decade spanning career has racked up a staggering number of numbers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_Shepherd

    Scroll down to Motorsports Career results, then click on ‘Sprint Cup series results: show’. and start counting the numbers….

    Reply

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