They don't typically retire numbers in motor racing the way they do in other sports. Certainly not in series like F1 where numbers are assigned based on how the team did in the previous season. But even in American oval-track racing, it's a bit of a rarity. CART retired Greg Moore's number 99 after he died in a crash in 1999, but the number resurfaced after the Indy merger. NASCAR has only ever officially retired a number once – the number 61 that Richie Evans used until he died in 1985 – and that was in the Whelen Modified Tour, not in one of the stock car championships. But Richard Childress has singlehandedly kept the number 3 out of circulation for the past dozen years.
That was the number Dale Earnhardt, Sr. raced under, right up until his final passing maneuver at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Team owner Childress has paid the fee to keep the number ever since, but has kept it out of use in Earnhardt's memory. His successor Kevin Harvick has raced in the Sprint Cup under the substitute number 29 ever since, and the number 3 was being kept out of use in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series as well. But that's all primed to change.

Childress' own grandsons have been making their way up the stock car racing ladder, Austin Dillon has been racing under the number 3 in the Nationwide Series, and his brother Ty Dillon has been using the same in the Camping World Truck Series. Austin has campaigned a handful of Sprint Cup races, sometimes using the number 33 at his grandpa's team, but now he's officially moving up to the big leagues full time, and is likely to take the number 3 along with him.

Whether Dillon and Childress concoct some sort of retro tribute livery to Earnhardt's (pictured above) remains to be seen, but it looks like Dillon is leaving his sponsor AdvoCare behind. General Motors has retired the Goodwrench name (at least in the US) that sponsored Earnhardt's car, but that's not to say that GM Certified Service couldn't fit the bill with a black and red livery.


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  • 29 Comments
      teamplayers99
      • 1 Year Ago
      Thank you for keeping Greg Moore's memory alive by the mention in this article. #99
      d.nothing
      • 1 Year Ago
      Any number used by any competitor in any sport is a symbol that serves a purpose. In most cases, numbers are assigned to differentiate, with ease, competitors. The first documented use of this paradigm was in 1903, in Australia. The stylized number "3" that Dale Earnhardt used served a practical purpose within the sport of NASCAR: he was the number 3 and no one else was. Well, he is not using the number 3 in the Sprint Cup Series, and no one else is using it, so the question to be asked is: is he still the number 3? As spectators we applied our own symbolism to the stylized number "3". We used in the practical way described above, but we also projector our impressions of Earnhardt onto it. Impressions like intimidation, fearlessness, daring, etc. The stylized number "3" is just a number - there is no doubt. But when we subjectively look at it - the number 3 is more than a number falling between 2 and 4 within the realm of NASCAR. Therefore, I think it is a mistake for anyone at the Sprint Cup level to use the number "3".
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        ImpulseGTO
        • 1 Year Ago
        Laser, every time you comment no matter the subject, your still a dumb ass troll.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ImpulseGTO
          [blocked]
        tiger
        • 1 Year Ago
        I cannot believe I am agreeing with Loser. Twice in one month at that. Although I hardly watch NASCAR anymore becasue frankly, its gotten way to predictable in the past 7-8 years and the France family won\'t get a clue and fix it. Patrick was brought up fast because she is a marketing ploy. Dale Jr is also a marketing ploy. He has not lived up to what was expected of him. Sr could wheel anything around a track, Jr can\'t drive. Period. Enough of the cookie-cutter ovals. Bring on more road courses, some dirt tracks and for Gods sake SHORTEN THE RACES! All these races should be cut back by at least 30% or make it a time limit or run in heats like local tracks do. 4 hours for a race is nuts. Caution laps should not count either. Sorry for the rant! I\'m starting to sound like Peter DeLorenzo!
        Grilk
        • 1 Year Ago
        I don't understand how you can compare retirement with death. But I'm just some jackhole on the net.
        gtv4rudy
        • 1 Year Ago
        Why did Montoya lose his seat while the rest of the 20 losers in Nascar keep thiers like Danica?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @gtv4rudy
          [blocked]
      kevsflanagan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Although I'm not a hardcore NASCAR fan I think using the 3 in the Cup series is a bad idea. They should just retire the 3 number in honor of Earnhardt.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @kevsflanagan
        [blocked]
      cd
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a disgrace. Those little ***** are only where they are because of grandpappy.
        Karl_T
        • 1 Year Ago
        @cd
        Dale Earnhardt Sr. got where he did because of Ralph Earnhardt. Dale Earnhardt Jr. got where he did because of Dale Sr. Kerry Earnhardt got where he did because of Dale Sr. Richard Petty got where he did because of Lee. Kyle Petty got where he did because of Richard. Adam Petty got where he did because of Kyle. Davey Allison got where he did because of Donnie and Bobbie. Clifford Allsion got where he did because of Donnie, Bobbie and Davey. Dale Jarrett got where he did because of Ned. Glenn Jarrett got where he did because of Ned. Mike Wallace got where he did because of Rusty. Kenny Wallace got where he did because of Rusty. Steve Wallace got where he did because of Rusty. John Nemechek got where he did because of Joe. Todd Bodine got where he did because of Geoff. Brett Bodine got where he did because of Geoff. The list goes on and on and on.... What's your point?
      RGT881
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think it'd be neat to see the 3 back. It'll always have a mystique and watching 3 beat the 24 no matter who the driver is, will be amazing.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
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          Pj Taintz
          • 1 Year Ago
          richard has indeed said we will "never see the stylized number 3 that sr made famous in cup" That means to me that they would indeed change the font.
      Zippy The Chimp
      • 1 Year Ago
      For those who don't know their Nascar history, 3 was Richard Childress' number when he was an owner / driver. Having his grandson drive that number is merely continuing family tradition and history.
      FutureDoc
      • 1 Year Ago
      Was a big fan of E, but I would like to see the #3 revived. If you want to do something special, retire the number at Daytona... but can be used for all other races.
      kenneth
      • 1 Year Ago
      The # 3 was the number Richard Childress raced with , when he drove. Earhart may have made it famous to fans, but it wasn't his number first. Dale raced under many other numbers before the #3. It will be good to see Richards grandson using that number, keeping it in the family.
        Pj Taintz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @kenneth
        exactly. In fact until brad won the championship in the number 2 last year I bet most dont realize that the last person to win the championship in the number 2 was in fact dale sr.
      mylexicon
      • 1 Year Ago
      If Childress' grandson had been killed, would he be reviving #3? Childress and the fundamentalists at NASCAR can go straight to hell.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mylexicon
        [blocked]
        Karl_T
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mylexicon
        Considering comments Earnhardt made about conversations he and Childress had on if 'it' ever happened and what Childress should do, I'd wager Earnhardt would be pissed to think the #3 would die with him. And don't forget, Childress helped make Earnhardt almost as much as Earnhardt helped make Childress.
          Curt BatKid Welborn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Karl_T
          I'm sorry but opinions without truth should be deleted...Dale Earnhardt was.... is ....and always will be the best driver that EVER raced. if you don't know this, you don't know NASCAR. and with or without Childress he would have succeeded to be the best so Childress should respect that and leave the 3 where it belongs IN HONOR OF THE TRUE KING OF NASCAR. IF HE DOESN'T HE .....HIS TEAM .....AND THE CAR BEARING THE 3 WILL BE CURSED
      Tom Janowski
      • 1 Year Ago
      Kind of sad that people have reduced Dale to a number.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tom Janowski
        [blocked]
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