AUSTIN DILLON’S MAGIC NUMBER
Dillon recalls another amusing twist on
why No. 3 had such resonance with him...
“On Sundays, if I wasn’t at a race, I was on
the couch at my grandmother’s,” he says.
“And the biggest thing that would happen
is, if we won, we got pizza. Winning. Pizza.
Dale Earnhardt and my grandfather. If my
grandfather came home with pizza, it was
because of Dale, him and all the things that
black No. 3 was able to do. And I love pizza.”
It doesn’t get much better than that.
And from Chevrolet’s perspective,
Dillon getting behind the wheel of the
No. 3 RCR Chevy SS is a perfect fit.
“It certainly means a lot to us. The No. 3
has a huge amount of significance,” says
Pat Suhy, NASCAR group manager for
Seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champ
Dale Earnhardt was a man’s man, a
tough guy who escaped the mills in
sleepy Kannapolis, N.C., to become the
biggest hero in stock-car racing history.
The stories of his toughness and
determination are legion.
Earnhardt and the Richard Childress
Racing team were feared for their speed
in the black No. 3 Chevrolet and their
take-no-prisoners approach to racing.
They walked the walk and drew frequent
comparisons to the Oakland Raiders, the
bad boys of the National Football League.
Although he relished the tough guy
image, Earnhardt was also fiercely loyal
to his family, friends and competitors
he respected. It was Earnhardt who
gave Michael Waltrip a ride in a Dale
Earnhardt Inc. Chevy when few others
believed he had the potential to win.
When Tony Stewart passed out in his
car after finishing the Indianapolis 500-
Coca-Cola 600 double in 1999, it was
Earnhardt who pulled the semiconscious “Smoke” out of his car, set
him gently on the ground, slapped him
lightly on the face and said just two
words – “Had enough?” – before walking
away like John Wayne in The Searchers.
And it was Earnhardt and car owner
Richard Childress who swore an oath to
each other on a hunting trip in New
Mexico, after a horse fell on a
treacherous ice-covered mountain pass
and Childress suffered a fractured
sternum. Afterward the two vowed that
if anything happened to one of them,
the other would keep the No. 3 going.
“I just think back to a conversation
Dale Earnhardt and I had,” says Childress.
“It’s time to bring it (the No. 3) back and
bring it back with family. I’d never put
anyone in it but family, an Earnhardt or
one of my family.”
THE MAN IN BLACK
THE EARNHARDT LEGEND
“The time is right [to bring
back the No. 3]. Austin
winning two championships
helped me make the decision”
Austin Dillon’s full-time
arrival in Sprint Cup isn’t
his first taste of NASCAR’s
top division. He’s started
13 Cup races, including 11
in 2013 for RCR, Phoenix
Racing and in the No. 14
Chevy SS, which he drove
for two races in place of
the injured Tony Stewart.
Dillon’s a leading contender
for Sunoco Rookie of the
Year honors in 2014.
Chevrolet Racing. “Its connection with
Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt, Richard
Childress Racing – it goes all the way back
to the roots of our relationship. Seeing it
return with RCR and Austin makes it really
special. We’re looking forward to watching
Austin grow into a highly competitive Sprint
Cup driver, wheeling the No. 3.”
For his part, Dillon is going about this
the right way. He’s received enthusiastic
support to race the No. 3 from Dale
Earnhardt Jr. and his sister Kelley
Earnhardt Miller, as well as long-time RCR
team members. “I had the approval of the
people that I felt I needed to get in the
seat and run the number,” Dillon says.
And Childress knows in his heart his
former driver would approve, too.
“Dale and I had discussed what we
were going to do with the No. 3 when he
retired,” he says. “He wanted to see the
No. 3 car still racing for wins and
championships in the Cup Series, so
I know that Dale’s smiling down on us
and is proud of this announcement, too.
I couldn’t be more proud and excited.”
(MAIN) Austin Dillon will race in
the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup
with the storied No. 3 on the side
of his Richard Childress Racing
Chevrolet SS. It’s an honor he’s
had to earn on the race track.
Dillon’s 2013 NASCAR
season was a model of
consistency, with 22
top- 10 finishes laying
the foundation for his
Cup champ Dale
was well earned.