The legendary Dale Earnhardt made the number 3 famous in NASCAR. When Earnhardt died in 2001, the 3 basically died with him. But it was never retired, and next year it returns to the Sprint Cup Series with Austin Dillon at the wheel.
Austin Dillon is the grandson of Sprint Cup team owner Richard Childress, and has used the 3 since he started racing. It was a foregone conclusion that once he moved up to NASCAR's premiere series, he'd use the number 3.
His cars, which were unveiled today, showcase the 3 on a black car with a white background and a yellow car with a black background, which is sure to stir up some memories.
— Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) December 11, 2013
For his part, Dillon isn't taking the responsibility of using the 3 lightly:
I feel the pressure of the number because I want to make it run well for the fans, keep it up front. It's a very special number to our family. ... Having the opportunity, the equipment, that stuff is always going to be with me from the very beginning. The number is more for me, putting pressure on myself. I like doing that. It's something that pushes me. Not everybody can say they have a number that pushes them, and I can, so that's nice.
Some fans will surely be pissed off and disappointed. But that's to be expected. Time moves on, and the 3 is back.
Childress: "My hope is the Dale Earnhardt fans will be re-energized." But acknowledges not everyone will be happy.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) December 11, 2013