The legacy of #3, to me

What does the return of #3 mean to me.

The number 3, Richard Childress Racing car will be back on track next month as Austin Dillon, Childress' grandson takes the wheel.

This is a significant moment in NASCAR history.

We all know the story of Dale Earnhardt. His dominance, his fierce competitiveness, and his struggle to win at the biggest race of them all. Only a couple years after finally winning the event, he would be killed on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

This put NASCAR on the map for me. I was 13 years old, and I remember all the hoop-la around this incredibly tragic story. Stores were filled with Earnhardt paraphernalia, the replays were all over the news. It took this brutal event to put the sport back on the map, it got peoples attention again.

Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Trevor Horn

After Earnhardt's death, the number 3 was retired.

It took me two more years after his death to catch the NASCAR bug. But the Earnhardt name and story were still very prominent, pulling fans in left right and centre.

There was a spike in popularity with the sport during the early 2000's, a lot of which could be attributed to the death of Earnhardt. Attendance numbers were solid, there were good rivalries on track, but they were nothing in comparison to the feeling that Earnhardt brought any time he was racing.

It has dwindled in the past few years, but I feel that the return of this number, with a young exciting driver behind the wheel is going to be great for the sport. No, he is not an Earnhardt, but he is a part of that family. There will be a ton of folks who argue that it should be retired forever, and there will be some who just don't care, but I think it could help the sport, and give people something to talk about. A Danica of sorts.

The best possible scenario that could go down for the sport would be Dillon taking the checkered flag in next Month's Daytona 500. News media all over the globe would mention it.

Next would he is part of the battle for the lead, maybe even finishes second. As long as they get a win, maybe two this season. That would be good.

But even a negative performance could bring about news for the sport. What is the old adage? Any news is good news? If Dillon has a tumultuous season, that will only liven up the traditionalists who thought the number should be kept off the track and retired in honour of a massive icon.

Either way, I am excited for the return of the #3. It's certainly something I never thought would ever happen. I wish Dillon luck. I will be cheering for him at Daytona, and the rest of the year. I am not necessarily a Dillon fan, but I am a fan of the Earnhardt Legacy.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Austin Dillon
Teams Richard Childress Racing
Article type Commentary
Tags 2001, austin dillon, covy moore, dale earnhardt, daytona 500, fatal crash, jr, richard childress