Austin Dillon Can Return Legendary No. 3 To Prominence

Austin Dillon is the grandson of noted team owner Richard Childress who has won NASCAR titles and is working his way into Sprint Cup competition with the famous No. 3 car.

Austin Dillon is NASCAR royalty. He may not have any NASCAR Sprint Cup wins in the seven starts he’s had to date, but he is still a part of one of NASCAR’s royal family.

Dillon, of course, is the grandson of championship team owner Richard Childress.

Raised around racing his entire life, Dillon found early success in his own career. For example, he was the 2008 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at 18 years old.

Notoriety followed Dillon as he raced his grandfather’s number – the iconic No. 3 – in NASCAR competition.

The black Goodwrench Chevrolet No. 3 is heavily associated with Childress’ late driver Dale Earnhardt. It was while driving the No.3 Earnhardt won six of his seven championships with Childress as his team owner.

Earnhardt’s death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 was a critical blow to Childress, his team, and the sport as a whole.

But racing people continue to do what they know – race – even in the face of death, mourning, and loss.

In NASCAR, numbers are not retired like they are in other sports. Many drivers have died on the job, others while in the prime of their racing careers, and still others who have retired gracefully. None of their numbers have been retired.

Many loyal fans to “The Intimidator,” Earnhardt, feel that once their hero died that the car number so associated with him should be retired.

One of Dillon’s accomplishments this season was to win the pole for the Dover Nationwide Series race in June.

Childress never has run the number in the Cup series since Earnhardt’s death. Earnhardt’s erstwhile replacement on the team, Kevin Harvick, took the No. 29 Childress asked permission to run.

But ever since Childress’ two grandsons, Austin and Ty were little boys, they hung around the world of NASCAR. They attended races, hung out at the garages and plotted their own racing careers.

Austin, the elder of Childress’ two grandsons, was able to strike out first. He did so running his grandpa’s No.3 in competition as he came up through different series.

The number is a part of the man.

Running the No. 3 in competition on the race track is as normal as can be for Dillon.

Many argue the only driver who should run the iconic number is Dale Earnhardt Jr., Earnhardt’s son. But Earnhardt Jr. vehemently disagrees.

Earnhardt Jr. is on record stating that the No. 3 was creating history in NASCAR long before his father stepped into the ride, and should continue to do so even though his famous father is gone.

In fact, Earnhardt Jr. equated the car as a bank where drivers continue to deposit history.

And he doesn’t want in the car.

Earnhardt’s legacy was Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (DEI). No longer the organization it once was at its heyday, Earnhardt Jr. left his namesake company and sought greener pastures at arguably NASCAR’s greatest modern race organization, Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt Jr. spends his entire career and life proving he is not his father. He certainly does not want to run his late father’s car in a time when his fans still remember his dad.

Driving the No. 3, however, is the exact legacy that Childress has created for his grandson since he was a young lad.

Dillon is a strong, vital, and unique young man who makes no apologies for who he is. His handshake is firm, his eye contact direct, and his words well thought out.

From his signature cowboy hat to the way he carries himself, his driving style to his unmistakable results, Dillon is one of NASCAR’s rising stars.

And who better to step into the No. 3 to continue its distinguished and storied history – from Junior Johnson to Earnhardt – than Childress’ grandson?

In his relatively short time racing in NASCAR in its top three tiers, Dillon has won the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, was the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year and continues to make inroads in both Nationwide and Cup.

It’s time to welcome back the No. 3 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It’s time to embrace the next generation of NASCAR royalty who happens to be the real deal.

Dillon swept at Kentucky Speedway in 2012 in Nationwide. Look for him to be a major contender

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  1. albert says:

    No reason Dillon shouldn’t get the # 3 car. Gives him some big shoes to fill but does nothing to tarnish the legacy.

  2. Vito Cee says:

    LOVE IT!!

  3. Denise Payne says:

    I don’t think anyone should drive the #3 car!

  4. Donna Christianson says:

    I guess I was, and am a Dale Sr. fan. I don’t want to see that little punk drive
    it. But that is my opinion.

  5. Krazy Kat says:

    I have been a huge fan of Dale Sr for a very long time!! I seriously think that number should have been retired upon his death. No driver can do justice to that number. I am strongly against it!!

  6. billy says:

    I don’t think he should get the number 3 its a number dale sr made for Richard not no one else that’s how I feel

  7. Norma Muse says:

    Let him race it – nothing can change Senior’s legacy or the memories we have.

  8. Judy Tabory says:

    I don`t think Dale Sr. would mind, probably be happy to see the number 3 again on the track. and if Dale Jr. said it`s time, well, lets go , I wish Dillon the best of luck.

  9. kevin parsons says:

    I dont think the number 3did should be back on the track! I hate seeing it in trucks and nationwide already! U cant change the legacy but houldnt try either. Sr made that number more than anybody else! Put the punk n a different number and c if he can make it famous!!!!

  10. Chevietruk says:

    I’m a diehard Sr fan and followed the natural progression to Jr. Years ago I would have never wanted to see the #3 back in Cup racing, now I’m not as much against it save for one thing…..change the look of the stylized 3. Make it it different. Childress can keep running the number and Sr’s legacy remains intact….just change the look.

  11. Cherie Simpson says:

    I think that if it is ok with Dale Jr., it should be ok to bring the #3 back and let Austin Dillon make some more history in it. I trust Dale Jr. intuition on this . I was a Dale Sr. fan for years too, but I think Dale Fr. has it right in the above article.

    • lethav says:

      correct and hes proven to be a great driver, and dale jr said its fine, cause he wont ever be comtable in it anyway since his dad died in it. I too was against it at first but i reasoned it out and now am happy to see Austin drive dales #3

  12. Daniel Beverly says:

    I think it should be retired with the legend who drove it into the hall of fame.

  13. jack kelly says:

    Austin is a grt up and coming racecar driver and has only had the #3 as his car number from the start I say let him have it and good luck
    am also a life long sr. fan so…

  14. Twtywill says:

    The number 3 was around long before Senior it actually was Richard’s number. Yes Senior made it famous, but in order to keep the legacy going, let his grandson run it. He is a proven winner and has acknowledged the history with the number. He went to Junior and asked his permission to drive the number when he joins Sprint cup. Junior has said it’s ok with him. I watched the race where Senior died, cried my heart out and collect my memorabilia but I think it would be nice to see it back out on the track. Daytona next year with that yellow stripe on the back. Austin Dillon has earned the right to run it.

  15. Marvin Buck says:

    I think as a Fan Of Dale Earnhardt and how He die the Number 3 should stay Like It is .Too remember The man and how he was you need to rethink this and let His name and the number remain that way.

  16. Becky fisher says:

    The 3 is diffently dale sr no one should race that car yes we have sr’s memory but seeing the 3 will not be right because there is only one man that was awesome in that car it god rest his sole. The intemadator him self Dale earnhardt sr R I P

  17. DTB says:

    For me, I think it’s time to see a (hopefully black) #3 on the track. And I was vehemently opposed to it for the longest time.

  18. Mary Herrera Long says:

    That # should never be run by anyone else. That is a forever # for Dale Sr. I don’t care who’s grandson he is. Richard Childress should have had enough respect for Dale Sr. to never let anyone use that # again!!!

  19. erecon67 says:

    You know I use to think it should be retired but now that I read this I have changed my mind. If Dale Jr. or even Kerry doesn’t want the ride then I say give Dillon a chance. I am sure “The Imtimador’ would want it that way too. There will definitely never be another Sr. and the memories will live on forever. Yes, the #3 will be associated with Dale and that is the way it should be, but to retire it? No.
    Good Luck Dillon Austin.

  20. Jonathan Tolley Aaron says:

    I’m a die hard Dale Earnhardt fan and I think Dale would want his number 3 to continue on with his legacy and I think Austin would do really good and he would make Dale happy.

  21. Peggy Swaim says:

    I was, am and will always be a Dale Sr. fan. I did not want anyone to ever race the #3 again, but as it has been said already, letting Austin Dillon drive the #3 in the Sprint series will never change Dale Sr.’s legacy. Since the number is owned by Richard Childress it only makes sense for his family to carry on his tradition that he started years ago.
    If you are a true Dale Sr. fan (as I feel most are) he will forever be in the hearts of his fans…no matter who drives the #3.

  22. Gina Bailey says:

    I have mixed feelings about the No. 3 being on the track again. On one hand I believe the No. 3 should have been retired. Here’s why: Dale Sr. Was a mover and shaker in NASCAR and since his death the sport has suffered. He was looked upon as the spokesman for the drivers and he was respected very much. Love him or hate him, he bled NASCAR. And no matter who drives the No. 3, it will always be Sr’s car. Now on the other hand I believe the No. 3 should be on the track racing. Here’s why: this is Richard Childress’ number to do with what he wants. He has 2 grands involved in racing and this is his Legacy to give to them. Sr would want the No. 3 on the track where it belongs. If I’m remembering correctly Dale Sr. once told Childress that if anything should ever happen to him that Richard should carry on and that’s exactly what he has done.
    It’s still hard to watch a race and not see Sr., especially now that his car is running again but as with life you have to move on. So Richard I think you’ve done what Dale would expect and I applaud your decision and respect your choiceas to when you brought the No. 3 back. Dale Sr. will be forever in our hearts.

  23. DeeDee DaCosta Baysinger says:

    I never want to see the number 3 on the track again unless an Earnhardt is driving it, but if Richard Childress wants to put his grandson in it then let him make sure its not a black 3. make is a bright color car and turn the 3 in a different way then it has always been for Dale……….I am not happy about this at all.

  24. The Big Al says:

    I have no issue with Dillon or anyone running the number 3, but to run it in the same color and fount that Dale Sr used I have issue with. BIG TIME ISSUE! And Richard should have more respect for his friend and not allow the copy cat.

    Dillon has not earned anything, he was born into it. Good for him.

    Black car, with Stylized White #3! Not, NO SIR!!!!!

  25. tammy says:

    He is a punk who thinks he is as good as Sr was. He has no right in that car what so ever In my opinion that number should of been retired the day Sr passed away.

  26. DeeDee DaCosta Baysinger says:

    I dont like the idea of anyone driving the number 3, but if it has to be done then let it be a bright color car with the number 3 in a different direction then the original 3 is in. Then maybe we Earnhardt fans can try and accept it on the track, but I still dont like it.

  27. Tim Spitzer says:

    no black 3 in a cup race

  28. Bonnie says:

    You can sugar coat it all you want…I say let the number 3 rest with the legend that drove it last.! Noone will ever be the driver Dale was it would be horrible to see the number 3 on the track without Dale Sr. behind the wheel..As for Junior saying no he don’t want to drive it, i don’t blame him…would anyone want to drive a car their father died making a name in.

  29. Carol Powell says:

    There was and is no bigger Dale Sr. fan than me, from his rookie days til his death. I have always hoped the #3 would be retired, but it wasn’t. That said, I will cry my eyes out when I see it on the track again, but I think Sr. would agree that Dillon has the right to run his grand fathers number. I only pray that the car isn’t yellow and blue or black, but it probably will be.

  30. Judy Stevens says:

    I still cry to never see Sr. in black #3; BUT, Dale, Sr. was and will remain one of a kind. Dale, Jr. is not and will never be as good as Sr. He pleads for everyone to realize that. Dale, Jr. will make his mark and leave his legacy just as his Dad did. There will never be another race car driver who can read the wind and drive and intinidate other racers like Sr. dud. I think it will help the continued healing for many fans, friends, family and RC. Jr. says OK>>>that’s all I need. It will be a very big responsibility for Dillon and I do agree the #3 should NOT BE BLACK OR RED>>>>colors we associate with Sr. and Jr.>>>>Yellow and blue like one of Sr.’s firest race cars, maybe. It is time to let the #3 reign again and show it means business just like Sr. Made it! That’s my opinion.

  31. getz trans says:

    there was a total of 81 Drivers that drove the #3 including Richard himself,Yes Sr did make alot of memories with it but it’s time to let it back in and it’s staying in the Childress organization where it belong.

  32. Rick Black says:

    NO WAY

  33. racingcarrie says:

    I do not want him to drive the number 3 because of his statement abouit the cnumber is his grandfather’s and now the car is his. I do not agree. if childers does this, he should at least change the color like to pink.

  34. Kelli says:

    I think that, in this instance, the most respectful thing to do would be to NOT use #3. It would be different if Sr. retired, but . . . . . So, I’m against it. Especially someone not related to Sr.

  35. Myra E Spiess Carver says:

    ain’t no way! #3 should have never been used on another car. It should
    have been retired the day Dale died cause it died with him. Austin will
    never, never walk in Dale’s shoes. Him driving #3 is a disgrace to
    Dale’s memory. If Jr. didn’t want it, no one should have it!

  36. Tracy G says:

    It’s not like Dale Sr. retired from driving the #3. He lost his life driving it. To put ANYONE in that car for Sprint racing, it is just disrespectful to his memory. I have always loved Richard Childress, but if he puts his grandson in Dale’s car…. I will be an RCR fan NO MORE 🙁

  37. 4-Q-2 says:

    Austin ain’t even .0001% of Dale Sr…..NEVER will be…R.C .Racing is in for a LONG tough row to hoe!!!!

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