The No. 3 is famous but the Earnhardt family wished for a small change when it returned
On February 18, 2001, the world lost Dale Earnhardt following a crash in the final lap of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. There was a great sadness and confusion throughout the world of NASCAR.
However, the next week, the racing schedule continued. Richard Childress announced that Kevin Harvick would drive the 2.9 car (Earnhardt’s No. 3 team) and he drove to the win, the very next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
However, following Earnhardt’s death, Childress stated he’d never run the No. 3 car again.
For over a decade, the No. 3 car was absent from the NASCAR Cup Series. Meanwhile, Austin Dillon was climbing through the lower ranks. He piloted a No. 3 dirt late model among other machines on his route to NASCAR.
In 2014, Richard Childress announced that his grandson would move up to the NASCAR Cup Series. In doing so, Dillon would pilot the No. 3 car.
In defense, Richard Childress opened his NASCAR career as a driver with the No. 3 machine. It was his number before handing it off to Earnhardt.
The Earnhardt family was torn on it’s return. They recently discussed the No. 3 number…
Earnhardt family comments on the return of the No. 3 car
Danny Earnhardt is the brother of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. Danny himself passed away on Friday. But, just a few months ago, he spoke on the No. 3.
“That other thing, I didn’t really have hard feelings about it, is putting the No. 3 back on the track. Because Richard said he would never do it. Richard told momma he wouldn’t never do it. But he did and that’s fine,” Danny Earnhardt stated via the Dale Jr Download before he passed away.
Related: Danny Earnhardt has passed away
Dale Jr comments
“It is,” Dale Earnhardt Jr, son of Earnhardt Sr responded.
“When Richard called and said, ‘Hey, I want to bring the No. 3 back.’ So, if we’re doing double digits, we’re not doing triple numbers, you can’t really retire numbers. You can’t retire the No. 43 and all that.”
“And, there’s these kids that play sports. Austin Dillon wore a No. 3 on the back of jersey, when he was playing T-Ball as an 8-year-old kid. I’m just making this shit up but he’s wore this No. 3 on the back of his jersey all through his childhood.”
“And to deny him a chance to continue to do that, it means something to him, personally. I kinda felt like it was fair.”
Dale Jr concluded, “I kinda thought that they should have maybe changed the font.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr recalls his trip to the hospital in 2001
On the same topic, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Danny Earnhardt recalled the tragic day at Daytona. The two of them ended up riding in a car together on their route to the hospital.
“I was at the infield care center. Then, the next thing I know, we was at the hospital,” Earnhardt says his memory is spotty of that day.
“They pulled us up to the emergency room entrance. Me and you got out and walked in there. As soon as we walked in there, the room dad’s in, is right there.”
“Nothing stopped me from walking in there and taking a look. There was 30 people in that entrance way. Either there because of dad or there because they had their own personal reasons, of a another family member in that unit, or whatever.”
Dale Jr stated, “It was a busy spot. I remember going in there.”
Danny Earnhardt added, “Teresa asked me if I wanted to go in. I told her no. So, I didn’t go in. You did, I guess.”
Dale Jr explained, “I just remember peaking my head around the corner and looking in there.”
“Then, we were taken to a smaller room. Some man came in and started explaining to Teresa about what the next steps were. What they were going to say to the public and what all was going to happen next.”
“I got out of there and back to you. Remember I looked at you and said, ‘You wanna get out of here?’ You said, ‘Yeah.’ Because, we knew dad was gone. There just wasn’t no reason to be there.”
Dale Jr added, “It was tough. I don’t remember getting on the plane, I don’t remember going home. I remember we all ended up at grandma’s house, I think it was the same night, whole family was there.”