NEWTON, Iowa -- Ty Dillon wheeled his winning No. 3 Chevrolet into Victory Lane two weeks ago after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway, climbed to the top in celebration and looked out at the crowd.
What he saw reinforced his feelings on one of NASCAR's most sacred numbers. The fans staring back at him were holding up three fingers.
"That was an awesome moment," Dillon said Friday at Iowa Speedway, site of Saturday night's American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen (8:30 p.m. ET, SPEED). "The way that things have gone so far for us running the 3 in the Truck Series and Nationwide has been great, and all the fans have been very supportive. The only reaction we've gotten so far running in the Nationwide and Truck series has just been positive."
Dillon, though, knows that feeling isn't unanimous when it comes to running the No. 3 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Dale Earnhardt made the No. 3 famous, winning 67 of his 76 Cup races in that car. The number has gone unused in the Cup Series since Earnhardt's death in 2001.
Dillon, though, has driven the No. 3 most of his life -- as has brother Austin Dillon, who's driving full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the second consecutive season.
And before Earnhardt made the No. 3 legendary, Richard Childress -- Austin and Ty's grandfather -- drove that number before claiming it as a team owner.
"I would love to see it back on the track at the highest level," Dillon said. "My brother has really worn it well and done a great job of representing that number. Dale Earnhardt made the number famous, but my grandfather also raced the number back in the day, so it's got a little more of a deeper meaning to us, too. Hopefully, one day it will show back up."
That "one day" could be as soon as next year, when Austin Dillon plans for full-time Cup ride in a yet-to-be-announced number.
"It means a bunch," Ty Dillon said. "It's towards Austin a little bit, because he's the one moving up to Cup next, but to get that from Dale Jr. was so cool to hear for our family. He's an awesome guy. We get to spend quite a bit of time with him away from the track. To get his blessing was awesome. We couldn't get it from a better guy, and he's the one who really matters in this whole deal, him and his family.
"You know, if the number moves up, there will probably be a couple few people who lash out about it and aren't happy. But there should be a wide group of people that I believe will be happy to see it back on the track."
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