- Marty Smith, ESPN
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MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Sources close to Robert Yates Racing told ESPN.com Wednesday that Ricky Rudd's Snickers Ford will carry the No. 88 in 2007.
An announcement is expected as soon as this weekend, one source said.
Since the mid-December announcement that Rudd would return to Nextel Cup Series racing following a year off, considerable speculation has centered on what number his RYR Ford would carry.
Team officials were undecided and a bit evasive during a conference call following the announcement, leading many to speculate the number would switch to 28 -- the number carried by Yates' first-ever Cup Series entry from its inception through 2003, when the car was switched to No. 38.
Asked his preference, Rudd said he'd take the No. 28, which he drove for Yates from 2000 through 2002, posting three wins and 34 top-five finishes.
But he'll get the 88, a decision made based on a 2002 agreement between RYR and Texaco/Havoline, sources said.
The agreement, sources said, was that RYR could keep the No. 28 when Texaco left for Chip Ganassi Racing, but that Yates would wait several years to run the number.
Yates and Masterfoods -- Snickers' parent company -- wanted to run the No. 28, but couldn't reach the required agreement with Texaco to do so, sources said.
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.
4dBob Pockrass and John Oreovicz