Robert Yates is a class act, all the way.
“Ralph Earnhardt drove the No. 88 Olds in 1957 and because of this number’s history with the Earnhardt family, I felt car No. 88 should continue with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.," he said. “Younger fans don’t realize I built cars and raced against Ralph. I also had a very close relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Sr. I’m proud to transfer this number to Dale Jr."
That’s it. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will drive the number 88 Hendrick Chevrolet next year, wearing either Pepsi or National Guard colors and logos, and emphasizing Pepsi’s new “Amp” energy drink.
The amount of attention the announcement, made in Dallas at a Pepsi retailer’s convention, received astonished even Rick Hendrick: “ never thought a car number would create this much excitement. Trying to do it and keep it quiet from the rest of the world until you have it all together, it was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done in motorsports.’’
The first choice for Earnhardt, Jr. was to continue in the 8 car, but it could not be secured from Dale Earnhardt, Inc. So, next year, the 8 will be wearing Army colors and will be raced by an Earnhardt driver, but not driven by an Earnhardt.
That’s in contrast to the class exhibited by Robert Yates, who willingly parted with a number most recently used by another Dale, Dale Jarrett, even though he’s a Ford team and Hendrick is the dominant Chevrolet team.
There are times when the old values at NASCAR stand out.
This is one of them.