In a change on Friday, the No. 88 badging on the A.J. Foyt Racing-owned NTT IndyCar Series Chevrolet of rookie Benjamin Pedersen will now be No. 55 for the 2023 season due to “negative ideological connotations” of No. 88 that some construe with white supremacist groups.
“We were made aware of it on social media,” an A.J. Foyt Racing team spokesperson told Autoweek on Friday. “It was in reaction to the announcement (of Pedersen’s car number). With the announcement of the 88 car, there were several comments so that sent us looking (and which led to the eventual change of car numbers).”
— AJ Foyt Racing (@AJFoytRacing) January 27, 2023
Pedersen’s No. 88 livery was announced just over a week ago on January 19, in part to celebrate A.J. Foyt's recent 88th birthday.
An A.J. Foyt Racing media release explained the change in badging this way:
“After the reveal of the No. 88 livery last week, it was brought to our attention that the combination of our two individually entered numbers carries certain ideologic and symbolic references.
“AJ Foyt Racing does not condone nor support any such ideologies or symbols, and to avoid any reprehensible associations, we have changed the entry number from 88 to 55.”
The 88 in Racing
• The 88 is the seventh-most used car number in the sport, with 1,747 starts and 76 wins, according to Racing-Reference.info. It 88 was last used in NASCAR by Alex Bowman in 2020. No other NASCAR driver has used it since.
• All-time greats in NASCAR to drive the 88 include Dale Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• The Last time 88 was used in IndyCar was from 2018 through 2020 by Colton Herta before he switched to No. 26 in 2021. Herta continues with the 26 today.
• The 88 has been driven 24 times in Indy 500 history, the last time being 2020 (Colton Herta). It has never won and has had only one top-5 finish and five top-10 finishes in all those starts, according to DoctorIndy.com.
Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski