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Another legendary NASCAR number bites the dust


Aric Almirola: bounced out of his ride....Maybe Joe Gibbs will give him another shot (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   NASCAR racing is taking another hard hit this week:
   First, legendary No. 28 had to be parked, last month when the sponsorship well ran dry for team owner Doug Yates and driver Travis Kvapil, heir to the number driven so impressive in years past by the late Davey Allison and Ernie Irvan.
   Now, No. 8 has been parked, also for lack of sufficient sponsorship. And that leaves promising newcomer Aric Almirola on the NASCAR sidelines.
   No. 8 of course was Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s number, picked by the late Dale Earnhardt because it had once been used by his father, the late Ralph Earnhardt.
   But when Dale Jr. decided to leave DEI and move to the Rick Hendrick camp last season, DEI boss Teresa Earnhardt refused to let him take that number with him, despite the eight years of history he himself had added to the legacy.
   Instead, Teresa Earnhardt last year had Almirola and Mark Martin sharing that number. But when DEI had to merge with Chip Ganassi – again lack of sponsor to keep DEI's four teams going – the number went to Ganassi.
   Now it will be idle, at least until Ganassi can find more than a one or two race sponsorship for Almirola.
   It's not like no one saw this coming. Almirola said at Daytona in the season opening weeks that he didn't know how long this ride would last.
   Now, with Almirola mired 37th in the standings, with a 21st at Atlanta his best finish, it looks like the end of the line for a while.

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