Gas 'N' Go: Bring Back the 3?
By: MRN Staff on July 8, 2013 | 1:30 P.M. EST
Austin Dillon currently drives the No. 3 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. (Photo: Getty Images)
The pits are open again and the MotorRacingNetwork.com's Pete Pistone and Dustin Long each answer this week's featured question in "Gas 'N' Go."
Should Richard Childress bring back the No. 3 to the Cup Series with Austin Dillon?
I've gone back and forth on this one but here's how I feel. I know there are thousands of fans who want to see the famous black No. 3 back in the Sprint Cup Series, but I'm not one of them. To me there are certain numbers that should stay in mothballs and the iconic 3 that Dale Earnhardt drove to the Hall of Fame is one of them. Even if it were Dale Earnhardt Jr. who took over his father's number, it wouldn't have the same feel. In fact, I think it would cheapen all the accomplishments car owner Richard Childress had with Earnhardt Sr. behind the wheel. Junior says he's okay with the number coming back, but I'm sure he understands the enormous pressure that could come with running his father's number in the Cup Series. It's Childress' right to do with whatever he chooses with the No. 3, which he purchases from NASCAR every year as all car owners acquire their numbers. He's currently running grandson Austin Dillon in a Nationwide Series ride that carries the No. 3 and it appears he will stay with the number when he makes the move to Cup in 2014. But while I understand the marketing dollars certainly to be generated with the idea of bringing it back, let the No. 3 stand for the amazing career and memories of what Dale Earnhardt brought to the sport and not tarnish the legacy of one of NASCAR's greatest drivers.
Of course he should. For as much pain as Richard Childress felt after Dale Earnhardt’s death, that fact that he’s willing to see the No. 3 car back in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series signals it’s time for the car’s return to Cup. We’ve already seen the No. 3 in Victory Lane at Daytona when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won Nationwide races there in 2002 and 2010. We’ve become accustomed to seeing Austin and Ty Dillon drive that number in Nationwide and the Trucks. Taking the number with Austin to Cup is the next logical step and it’s one Childress seems ready to make. For those who are against the move, time moves forward. The sport has had its chances to retire the number but never done so. If you’re for retiring the No. 3 than what about other numbers? What about the No. 22? Fireball Roberts, considered the sport’s first superstar, died from injuries suffered in the 1964 World 600 driving the No. 22. That number has been used often since. Bobby Allison won races with it, Ward Burton won a Daytona 500 with it and Joey Logano drives the No. 22 today. Let’s be honest, to some newer fans they view the No. 3 as Austin Dillon’s number. Isn’t part of loving the sport, passing it on to a new generation, understanding not everything will stay the same? You’ll always have your memories of Dale Earnhardt and the No. 3 car - just as Childress does - but isn’t it selfish to prevent the next generation of fans from enjoying the sport in their own way?
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