CBSSports.com editor Brian De Los Santos, writer Pete Pistone and a chosen member of the community (for a pure fan perspective) share their thoughts on this week's poll question.
Last week it was announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would drive a replica of his father's No. 3 car in the Nationwide race at Daytona in July. Would you like to see the No. 3 car return to the Cup Series or should the number be retired?
PETE PISTONE: 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 famous 3 that Dale Earnhardt drove to the Hall of Fame is one of them.
Even if it was 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. And though Junior will pilot the 3 car in the Nationwide Series later this summer, something he's done before, he understands the enormous pressure that could come with running his father's number in the Cup Series, something he wisely wants no part of.
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 Camping World Truck that carries the No 3. But it doesn't appear Childress has any plans to carry that digit back to NASCAR's highest level of racing and I'm glad he feels that way. Let's let the 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.
Should NASCAR retire the No. 3 in honor of Dale Earnhardt Sr.?
Total Votes: 1,754
BRIAN DE LOS SANTOS:Dale Earnhardt Sr. is the reason I became a racing fan in the mid-80s. I can't believe it has been more than nine years since the tragedy at Daytona.
The argument from many racing fans not to retire his number often goes something like this: "Well, if you retire his number, you should retire a bunch of other numbers like Richard Petty's No. 43."
This argument is maddening to me. The sentiment to retire the No. 3 is a combination of Earnhardt's achievements in the sport coupled with the manner in which his career ultimately ended. Had Earnhardt been able to quit of his own volition, like Petty, this wouldn't even be a debate. So, no, just because the 3 gets retired doesn't mean other numbers must follow suit (though I'm not totally against retiring other numbers).
That said, I don't think the No. 3 needs to be retired. Just give the 3 a different style and look.
I don't know how other Earnhardt fans feel, but to me, it's the specific style (the slant and font) of the 3 and not necessarily the number alone that I identify with Earnhardt. It's his logo so to speak. My preference is for that particular 3 to remain synonymous with Earnhardt. Otherwise, I'm fine with the 3 returning to the Cup Series.
Jedi Trainer: I would love to see the No. 3 return to the Cup Series. It has been long enough since the accident for the number to return.
NASCAR should not get into the business of retiring numbers. There are plenty of cars that could have had their numbers retired for several reasons. Richard Petty's 43 would be a prime example for what he has done on the track. The 28 had the passing of Davey Allison and the near death of Ernie Irvan.
NASCAR could keep going on and on with all the ups and downs of the drivers but would put themselves in the position of where to draw the line. The numbers should move on.
How many times have you heard an announcer refer to the history of the car number when a winning drought was broken? Then they go on to review the drivers that number had in the past. The history in the numbers gives the sport depth. That tradition should not be broken.