Growing up a Dale Earnhardt fan I used to enthusiastically look forward to race day when I got to see the legend in action. For me, nothing beat seeing that number 3 on the track, especially when it was being guided to another Dale Earnhardt victory. Sadly, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been void of the famous number ever since Earnhardt was killed in a last lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.
But now there is talk of another driver coming to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and bringing back the famed number 3: Austin Dillon. While many diehard Earnhardt fans may disagree, for me, I would be thrilled seeing Dillon race the number 3 at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level.
Done in Good Taste
Richard Childress is the car owner who has the rights to the number 3 and also happens to be the grandfather of Austin Dillon. Recently Childress said that while he would be open to allowing his grandson to move up to the Sprint Cup level with the number 3 he would want to restyle the 3 from how Earnhardt had it on his doors for so many years. In addition, Childress said that nobody would ever race the number 3 in any level of NASCAR unless it was a Dillon or an Earnhardt. In my opinion, that's doing it in very good taste.
Anyone who is a diehard racing fan will know that Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress were about as close as two people could be. In a way it was almost like they were family. This extended beyond the two friends and went all the way down to the children of the two men and even the grandchildren.
In fact, there is a famous picture of Austin Dillon in the background as Dale Earnhardt is standing on his car with his hands raised in victory after winning the 1998 Daytona 500. So, Dillon grew up around Earnhardt and was probably just about as close to him as many of his actual relatives were.
Great to See the 3 in Victory Lane
No matter who is driving the number 3 car I simply love to see it go to victory lane. I enjoyed it the last time Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in the 3 car and I enjoyed it when Austin Dillon recently won his first Nationwide Series race in the number 3. As far as I'm concerned, it is a wonderful reminder of how much I enjoyed watching my childhood hero race the very same number to many victories.
Remember the Man
Even Richard Petty's famous number 43 still travels around the NASCAR tracks today piloted by Aric Almirola. That fact known, there is no taking away what Petty did in NASCAR and no matter who drives the 43 he will still be known as the "King."
So, as a true Dale Earnhardt fan I choose to remember the man and not just the car number he drove. He was defined in the sport of NASCAR for his skills and his tenacity. But, watching Earnhardt run every race from the time I was only four or five until the day he tragically passed away, I think he would have done what he did regardless of his number. So, let's remember the legend and let someone else take the number 3 to turn some overdue laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Jimmy Collins has been a loyal fan of NASCAR since he was a child attending races watching Dale Earnhardt run the famous number 3. He still attends numerous races each season and enjoys writing about NASCAR, particularly in regards to Dale Earnhardt as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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