If Hendrick agrees to buy No. 8 from DEI, NASCAR unlikely to balk

LOUDON, N.H. -- There is nothing keeping Hendrick Motorsports from buying the No. 8 from Dale Earnhardt Inc. as long as NASCAR approves the transfer of the number.

While NASCAR owns all numbers and issues them to organizations on an annual basis, teams sell numbers all the time.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said it is unlikely the governing body would prevent such a transfer, adding the financial terms are not a concern.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. made it clear when announcing a five-year deal to begin driving for HMS in 2008 that he would like to keep the No. 8 that has been his trademark since he got into the Nextel Cup Series in 2000.

DEI officials said they would be willing to consider a transaction once a formal proposal is made.

"I believe that if Rick Hendrick and DEI made a deal for that number or if Junior made a deal for the number with DEI that it would be consistent with their practice to say, 'Yes, that's OK,' " Roush Fenway president Geoff Smith said before the start of Sunday's race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

"It would be very inconsistent for them to say it's not OK for those two guys to make that trade."

What makes this number transaction different from most is the potential monetary value because it is directly linked to NASCAR's most popular driver.

"There have been a lot of cash considerations, very nominal kind of things," Smith said. "Like we give you use of an engine and $25,000. There hasn't been a dollar exchange of any consequence, except maybe this one."

For example, Penske Racing paid less than $10,000 to acquire the No. 2. Dodge Motorsports gave the Pontiac team of Melling Racing Dodge support in exchange for the No. 9 when Bill Elliott began racing for Evernham Motorsports in 2000.

Kevin Harvick gave Mark Martin the No. 6 in the Truck Series so Martin could have the same number he had with Roush Fenway Racing in the Cup series.

"I don't remember what Kevin got. Oh, yeah. We let him win the Busch Series last year," Smith said with a laugh.

"NASCAR owns the numbers, but in practice if the two owners agree that one doesn't need the number anymore and that he'd like the other one to have it NASCAR has accommodated that request every single time."

David Newton covers motorsports for ESPN.com.