Despite Richard Childress previous claims that he would never run the No. 3 car, it was given to his grandson Austin Dillon.
After Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s tragic crash in the final lap of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2001, Childress had said that he would retire the No. 3 car.
The next week after the death of Earnhardt Sr. Kevin Harvick drove the 2.9 car at Atlanta Motor Speedway and won the race. For a decade after the incident, Childress kept his word but when his grandson Dillon was climbing up the ranks, he used the No. 3 car on his route to NASCAR.
In the Cup Series, the No. 3 car returned with Dillon, when he moved up to the Cup Series.
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A couple of months back before the passing of Danny Earnhardt, the brother of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr,, Danny discussed the return of the No. 3 car with Dale Jr. on the Dale Jr Download.
“That other thing, I didn’t really have hard feelings about it, is putting the No. 3 back on the track. Because Richard said he would never do it. Richard told momma he wouldn’t never do it. But he did and that’s fine.” Danny said.
“It is,” Dale Jr responded.
“When Richard called and said, ‘Hey, I want to bring the No. 3 back.’ So, if we’re doing double digits, we’re not doing triple numbers, you can’t really retire numbers. You can’t retire the No. 43 and all that.”
“And, there’s these kids that play sports. Austin Dillon wore a No. 3 on the back of jersey, when he was playing T-Ball as an 8-year-old kid. I’m just making this shit up but he’s wore this No. 3 on the back of his jersey all through his childhood.”
“And to deny him a chance to continue to do that, it means something to him, personally. I kinda felt like it was fair.”
“I kinda thought that they should have maybe changed the font,” Dale Jr concluded.
Even before Earnhardt Sr. drove the No. 3 car, it was Childress who drove it in his NASCAR career. So, it is also his number. But then he shouldn’t have words that he didn’t want to keep in the first place.