Dillon Respectful of the No. 3

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Austin Dillon says he and car owner Richard Childress are "trying to continue the legacy of the No. 3" with its return to the Sprint Cup Series. (Photo: Getty Images)

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Austin Dillon says he and grandfather Richard Childress want to be respectful about bringing the No. 3 car back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but Martha Earnhardt, mother of Dale Earnhardt, has some reservations about the number’s return.

When Dillon drives on to the track Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, it will mark the first time the No. 3 car has been back in Cup since Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

Martha Earnhardt told Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday that “I have mixed feelings because I was told that I would never see a No. 3 on the racetrack after Dale died. I can understand it to a point. I know it was Richard’s [Childress] number when he drove and this is his grandson, and I understand that.

“As long as they don’t make it look like the No. 3. If they painted it a different color … I can sort of deal with it, but I don’t want to see the black No. 3 just like Dale’s. But that’s not my decision.”

Asked about Martha Earnhardt’s comments, Dillon said: “I think we respect everything that the Earnhardt family has to say. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. and everybody has been very supportive of it. Everything has been great and we’ll continue to move on.

“I think there’s something about the number and the color and that was one thing my grandfather said from the beginning that we weren’t going to have (the car) black.’’

Dillon noted that none of his cars will be more than about 60 percent black.

Dillon understands that some fans want the No. 3 car not to return.

“Everybody has got their own opinion, I feel that, hopefully, we can win them over as time goes and that’s all you can do,’’ he said. “Hopefully they’re open enough to take a look at everything we’re doing.

“The biggest thing is being respectful to all the family that is involved. We’re trying to continue the legacy of the No. 3.’’

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