It’s been something that legendary team owner Richard Childress has been contemplating for over a decade now. It’s something that has been questioned numerous times by the owner himself, as well as race fans across the globe. The question is quite simple and the answer should be coming within the next few months to the liking of many fans. However, there may be a group of fans that suggest he shouldn’t do what he likely will.
Richard Childress hasn’t used the legendary No. 3 since the passing of one of, if not the most iconic name in all of NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Well, at least in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Childress put his grandchildren, Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon, in the No. 3 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series when they raced in the series. Ty will use the No. 3 for at least this season, and Austin will continue to pilot the No. 3 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, which should help gain fan support of the No. 3 going up with him to the Sprint Cup Series.
Race fans questioned Childress for bringing the No. 3 back into the sport at first, but after they saw the success that Austin Dillon had and will continue to have, they seemed to like the idea. Childress has a difficult decision to make, and must decide whether or not he can go through with what could be the best or worst decision for the team owner that saw just one win over the entire Sprint Cup Series schedule last season, even with three-four cars at each event.
Let’s face it, Childress knows the marketing advantage he and his team would have if they bring back the No. 3. Bass Pro Shops will likely follow the two Dillon brothers to the Sprint Cup Series, which could help bring back a throw back look which most fans would love to see. The reaction of fans has been a key to his decision as he stated during the Sprint Media Tour on Monday.
Bringing back the No. 3 would also be good to see for the sport. The number was made famous because of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s integrity and determination to win. For those who haven’t noticed, the Dillon brothers seem to have the determination and more importantly, the talent.
However, Childress knows what can happen if his grandchildren struggle in the No. 3. Can he afford to allow that car to look like a disgrace? Is it really worth it? The number has a history of winning. Even when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran the number at Daytona for a Nationwide Series race in 2010, the decision was highly questionable, but was eventually accepted by the NASCAR fan base once they saw that the No. 3 would continue to have success.
Though the decision is up to Richard Childress, and only Richard Childress, it’s likely that he will continue to listen to race fans and have the number return to Sprint Cup Series competition since that terrible day in 2001.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.