Imagine my surprise when I turned on SportsCenter the other day and heard the crazy news, NASCAR’s #3 car is coming back. Seriously? Even more crazy is the fact that Richard Childress’ grandson Austin Dillon would be driving the car. Seriously?? Seriously??? For those of you that are clueless, the late, great Dale Earnhardt drove for Childress’ RCR team.
I have nothing against Childress or Dillon. It has been 13 years since Earnhardt passed away coming out of turn four at the Daytona 500. It is a day that lives in infamy in the NASCAR world and in the world of us who love sports. No one was as big of a name in NASCAR as Earnhardt was and still is. His stare, abilities and the mustache drew a whole new sea of fans to the sport. Immediately, after his passing, NASCAR issued a memo stating no one would be able to drive a #3 car for a year. And no one has driven it since, until now.
I have no doubt Dillon is worthy of a chance to participate in the Sprint Cup Nationwide Series but in my opinion he is not the one that should bring #3 back to the track. No one should. Not even six time Nationwide Series winner Jimmie Johnson. And that has nothing to do with his abilities on the track and everything to do with the respect that Earnhardt earned before he passed.
Most of us naturally assumed that if anyone ever drove the car again, it would be driven by his son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I personally think NASCAR should pull a MLB move and retire the number across the board. The number is iconic, sacred and should only be connected to Earnhardt. The man gave his life to the sport and has forever been immoralized as NASCAR’s biggest star. #3 should stay in the garage. Childress owes The Intimidator that much.