HOMESTEAD, Fla. - If Richard Childress decides to take the iconic No. 3 back to the Sprint Cup Series in the future he has Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s blessing.
Earnhardt said in his media session Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway he has no problem with his father's famous number being used again some day in NASCAR's top series.
Childress has used the No. 3 with his grandson Austin Dillon in the Camping World Truck Series and plans to move it with him to the Nationwide Series in 2012. Earnhardt said if the next evolution was to follow Dillon into the Sprint Cup Series he would support the idea.
"Yeah, I would," Earnhardt said. "Austin has ran that number and I’m not real sure; I just look at it differently. I don’t look at the numbers tied to drivers as much as just the history of the number. The number is more of a bank, you know, that you just deposit history into.
"It doesn’t really belong to any individual. Austin’s ran that number and you can’t really deny him the opportunity to continue to run it. It just wouldn’t be fair. Dad (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) did great things. He was a great ambassador for the sport and we’re still as a whole, reaping the benefits of all he accomplished and what he did that put us in front of a lot of people. But even before that, the number was Richard’s. Richard drove it. And someone else drove it before then. There’s a lot of guys in the fifties and sixties that ran that number with success. So the number is really kind of like a bank and you deposit history into and they don’t really belong to the individuals."
As far as Earnhardt is concerned the digit itself really doesn't carry with it the sense of history or memories he shares from the days of his father campaigning the No. 3. Junior believes there's a lot more to it than just a simple number being back on the track.
"It’s iconic when you put the colors and the style with it; it’s a little bit iconic to the sport," Earnhardt said. "Austin is a good kid, He seems to have a great appreciation for what’s happening to him and what’s going on around him. And I would be happy if he wanted to keep doing that. He kind of had to know when he first started to run that number if he got this far into the deal, he would have to cross a few bridges like that and that was a tough decision I guess at first to start running the number for him; knowing what kind of pressures he might face down the road. But I think it would be fine by me for him to do that. I think that it’s got to get back on the race track one of these days. It just can’t be gone forever you know?”
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