Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s famous No. 8 returning to Charlotte track this year

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s famous No. 8 returning to Charlotte track this year
(Credit: Jeff Siner | The Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joe Marusak/The Charlotte Observer) - Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s famous No. 8 will return for two Cup series races this year.

Xfinity series driver Daniel Hemric will make his Cup series debut in the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Richmond Raceway on April 21. Hemric will drive the No. 8 again at the new Charlotte Motor Speedway road course on Sept. 30. Charlotte is the first elimination race of the NASCAR Playoffs.

Earnhardt Jr. drove the No. 8 car over nine seasons for Mooresville-based Dale Earnhardt Inc.

"The 8 is coming back!!!" Earnhardt Jr. tweeted on Tuesday night. "Good luck with it @DanielHemric."

Like Earnhardt., his hometown's hero, Hemric is a Kannapolis native.

"I drove by DEI (on N.C. 3) every single day," the 27-year-old Hemric told NASCAR.com. "It was a reminder of this guy, Dale Earnhardt, who grew up in this same town, the same area. He went from working in the plant, to short-track racing, to become this sport's icon, and here I am driving by his place every single day. It's a reminder that if you keep working, what you can have out of life. It was very special to have that right here in my backyard and to know I'm trying to make that same mark in this sport."

"To have the support from the folks who saw how I was having to do it growing up, without family money, without anything given to me," Hemric told NASCAR.com.. "Having to go work for it, that's what's made me the person I am. That's what I go to sleep at night proud of … how I've gotten here and the support group I've had along the way."

The car will be sponsored by Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff, which backed Hemric in four Xfinity races last season, including the playoff race at ISM Raceway near Phoenix where Hemric drove into the Championship 4.