Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
GALLERY: The History of The No. 5
While the focus at the end of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season was on the playoffs and the drivers stepping away from driving, another chapter was closing at the same time.
Since Hendrick Motorsports entered the premiere division in 1984, one of their racecars has carried the No. 5. Though beginning next season, that will no longer be the case.
Tagged with #LegacyLives, the organization announced a change for 2018 and beyond in September. Alex Bowman will take over the No. 88 previously driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. to build on Nationwide’s branding, while Jimmie Johnson‘s No. 48 will remain with the history formed in seven championships since his debut in 2002. William Byron gets the No. 24 to go along with Axaltra’s (previously known as Dupont) sponsorship history with Jeff Gordon, as Chase Elliott will switch to the No. 9 to add to the family legacy.
Over the past 33 years, nine different drivers have raced for Rick Hendrick with the number on their car.
From the first ever race with Hendrick Motorsports in 1984 to his last season with the team six years later, Bodine drove the No. 5 for a total of 170 races. There were plenty of highlights along the way, including the team’s first ever victory at Martinsville Speedway which kick-started everything. Bodine would score a total of nine victories with a best points finish of fifth in 1984.
Ricky Rudd drove for Hendrick Motorsports for four years, running a total of 117 races. Each of the four seasons, he would only score a single victory each year with a best points finish of second in 1991.
Terry Labonte drove for Hendrick Motorsports for 11 years, running a total of 368 races. Through those 11 seasons, Labonte scored 12 victories and brought home the team’s second championship in 1996. It is worth noting the Iceman’s last full-time season of competition was in the No. 5 in 2004.
During the 2000 season, Labonte missed two races due to an inner ear injury suffered in a crash at the Pepsi 400. Ron Hornaday filled in at Watkins Glen International, finishing 15th.
The other race Labonte missed in 2000 was the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis 500, which Todd Bodine drove in his place. Bodine started 25th, racing his way through the field to finish 15th.
After success in the XFINITY Series for Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch moved up to the Cup Series in 2005 and drove for Hendrick Motorsports for three years. Each of those seasons, he scored at least one victory for a total of four, with a best points finish of fifth in 2007.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Although he was never credited for it officially, Earnhardt Jr. actually drove a Hendrick Motorsports car with the No. 5 on it.
At Texas Motor Speedway in April 2007, Earnhardt and Busch got caught up in a wreck together earlier in the event. While Earnhardt’s Chevrolet was unable to be repaired, Busch’s No. 5 entry was – but Busch had already left the track. After being asked, Earnhardt drove Busch’s for the remaining nine laps of the event, allowing him to finish one spot higher than he would’ve. A month later, Earnhardt announced that he would be driving for Hendrick Motorsports for 2008 and beyond.
He also adorned the No. 5 on his car at a test later on that season at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the team, too, with the car adorning a scheme to match the one Bodine carried to the organization’s first ever win.
While most drivers enjoyed multiple years behind the wheel of the No. 5, the same couldn’t be said for Casey Mears as he only got a single season in 2008. It was his second year with the team, though, as he drove the No. 25 in 2007.
For Mears, he would fail to reach victory lane, scoring a season-best fifth at Sonoma Raceway in June en route to finishing 20th in points. He would leave Hendrick Motorsports at year-end for Richard Childress Racing.
Mark Martin drove for Hendrick Motorsports for three years, running a total of 108 races. Through those three seasons, Martin scored five victories – all coming in 2009. His best points-finish with the team came that year, as he placed second to his teammate Jimmie Johnson.
Like Labonte, this span also included Martin’s last full-time season of competition (2011) as the next two years he only ran two-thirds of the schedule for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated.
Kasey Kahne has spent the last six years at Hendrick Motorsports, which equals 216 races. During that time, he has scored six victories with a best points-finish of fourth in 2012.
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