It's been almost 13 years since Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was killed during the 2001 Daytona 500, but the famed No. 3 will be making its return to the sport at that very track next month with NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon behind the wheel. We first heard reports of this back in August, but Richard Childress Racing has made the news official this week.

There is no doubt the No. 3 will bring some extra attention to Dillon next season, but ESPN reports that team owner Richard Childress, and Dillon's grandfather, said that he's received overwhelmingly positive feedback from series fans this year. That report also indicated that the neither of the two paint schemes planned for 2014 (with major sponsorships coming from Dow and Cheerios) will have any resemblance to Earnhardt's trademark black, red and white GM Goodwrench design.

With Kevin Harvick – Earnhardt Sr.'s successor – leaving RCR at the end of this past season, Dillon was named as his replacement in the three-car team, which will transition the Chevrolet SS racecar from Harvick's No. 29 back to The Intimidator's number. Dillon is no stranger to the No. 3 in NASCAR, as he has raced and won titles with this number in the Nationwide and Truck series.

What do you think of RCR's resurrection of Earnardt's No. 3? Let us know in our poll and/or Comments.

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Austin Dillon, a champion in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will compete full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2014 driving for Richard Childress Racing.

Dillon joins Paul Menard, who will drive the No. 27 Menards Chevrolet with crew chief "Slugger" Labbe, and Ryan Newman, who will drive the No. 31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans/Wix Filters Chevrolet with crew chief Luke Lambert, as full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers under the RCR banner in 2014. The Welcome, N.C., organization has invested significant resources in its competition and engineering departments to prepare for the 2014 season. Many of these changes were spearheaded by the additions of Dr. Eric Warren (director of competition) and Mark McCardle (director of racing operations) to the organization, along with the recent addition of Mike Coughlan (technical director).

Dillon's program will be led by crew chief Gil Martin, a 13-year veteran of the organization who led Kevin Harvick to six chase berths. It also marks the highly anticipated return of the No. 3 to Sprint Cup Series competition. Dow and General Mills' Cheerios brand will be the primary brands featured on the No. 3 Chevrolet SS throughout the season.

"My grandfather and everyone at RCR have done a great job of not pushing me too quickly into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," said Dillon. "I feel like I've been able to spend adequate time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series preparing for this next step in my career. I am thrilled to be making this move with partners like Dow and Cheerios, along with some long-time partners who have supported me and RCR throughout my career. I am truly grateful and looking forward to this opportunity."

The program between RCR and Dow is driven by several Dow businesses that are directly involved in R&D projects and strategic business and relationship opportunities unique to the NASCAR community.

"We see this as a great opportunity to partner with a historic team like Richard Childress Racing that is synonymous with success, integrity and championships, and a championship driver in Austin Dillon," said Joe Harlan, executive vice president of Dow. "Austin's winning passion is representative of Dow. Our employees and customers were very supportive of our debut into our partnership with RCR during 2013 and they are looking forward to continued involvement with Austin next year. Dow's technology-focused, market-driven, customer-centric organization aligns perfectly with the performance-driven values of RCR and NASCAR. We look forward to being a part of Austin's rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and continued success in NASCAR."

General Mills is entering its 17th year in NASCAR and its sixth year with RCR. They began their association with Dillon last year when the Minneapolis, MN.-based company used its Honey Nut Cheerios brand to help Dillon make his inaugural Daytona 500 start. Today, Cheerios launched the @CheerThe3 communities on Facebook and Twitter so fans can access exclusive content and share their excitement around Austin and the No. 3 race team.

"With Austin Dillon's success in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, we're proud to continue our support of Austin, a proven winner and passionate driver," said Gregg Dorazio, manager of shopper marketing and motorsports for General Mills. "He shares many of the same values as the Cheerios brand and has a bright future in the sport. We're excited to join him in this next step in his career. We're also proud to continue our partnership with RCR and continue our heritage in the sport."

In addition to Dow and Cheerios, several long-time partners associated with RCR and Dillon will join him as he moves to full-time competition in the Sprint Cup Series including Realtree Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, American Ethanol and the University of Northwestern Ohio.

For additional information on today's announcement, and all that's happening at RCR, please visit rcrracing.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 49 Comments
      Stomp and steer
      • 1 Year Ago
      to be honest,the #3 didt have any meaning behind it until Dale Sr. It was just another number. Like the #43 for the Petty clan. There arent too many numbers in motorsports where just saying the # anywhere in the US relates directly with a driver.
      Narom
      • 1 Year Ago
      Its just a number.
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      I remember when he passed away, nobody expected that. The accident when watching it on television looked very much survivable. It really shook up the fans, industry, and country. Especially here in NASCAR country. You don't have to like NASCAR but you have to respect his skill set on the track of Dale Earnhardt.
      scott3
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is time and the number should not be forgotten. It was Richards before Dale and Junior Johnson and even David Pearson's before that with a sprinkling of Buck Baker etc. I was a big a Dale Sr fan as anyone going back to the Olds days back in the late 70's. He was a hell of a drive and had car control as few ever have. Nearly anyone can drive a car pressed into the track with all sorts of down force. It then becomes a challenge of who can design the better car too often and not who can drive the best. Why do you think drivers in F1 jockey for the best designed cars as they know they can't win otherwise. Austin is suited for this as he has already won the truck series championship and the Nationwide championship. The kid has some of the best cars but he also can drive as a lesser driver can not rely on his car alone to carry him. The Earnhardt family is ok with this and that is all that should matter. Jr is number 88 and that is his legacy if he wants to hand it down. I don't get the big hang up here as it will never diminish Dales legacy and to be honest it will in my opinion be a tribute every week to a great driver. It is just a shame that Goodwrench did not jump on board too. Austin will win a race this year and will most likely win Rookie of the year if all goes as hoped. Also keep in mind with the economy as it is the 3 is attractive to a company willing to put a lot of money down ar a time many are cutting back. You only have 0-99 numbers to use and to start to retire them in any racing series is crazy. As for racing I like it all but from what I have seen the cars will little down force or the ones on Dirt have the most skill. The most impressive thing you see is a Outlaw sprint coming out of a corner 4 wide on 2 and 3 wheels sideways at 100 mph plus. Ever notice the guys from dirt come to NASCAR and Win and those who come form F1 Struggle in these so called low tech cars. You can even plop a over weight Tony Stewart in a McLaren at the Glen and he comes close to Hamilton's times even in the rain the first time he sits in the car.
      tool0117
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nascar strategy guide (Do not distribute without permission): turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left turn left profit
        Cool Disco Dan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tool0117
        If its so easy why aren't you a multimillion dollar driver that owns 2 teams?
      Hazdaz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are they doing this because dumb hillbillies that watch NASCAR can't count too high, they can't just go with some other larger number? Why not 8, or 56, or 89? Are all these numbers all taken? Just taken the next higher number. Problem solved.
      Karl_T
      • 1 Year Ago
      Where is 'Don't care'?
        Jason
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Karl_T
        On another page. Hit the 'search' button up there, after you type something you do care about. You're welcome.
        Rampant
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Karl_T
        If you dont care, dont vote.
      约更
      • 1 Year Ago
      So why can I not choose " I REALLY couldn't care LESS which american boring low tech wins whatever " when you let us choose " I really couldn't care less which hybrid wins which European race…" with Le Mans ?? Nass Cars vs Le Mans is like ******* (meeow) vs Knifes ! C´mon! éther be equal or spare us this boring **** !
        Karl_T
        • 1 Year Ago
        @约更
        When you can form a complete, proper sentence with correct punctuation, spelling, etc, you can tell Autoblog how to set-up a poll. No, I don't care if English is not your first language; it's an American-based, English language website.
      prince_david
      • 1 Year Ago
      Some guy died in a dangerous motorsport. You don't lose the number forever its been over 10 years.
      Peter Middleton
      • 1 Year Ago
      Should be retired.
      Vergenbuurg
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't view it as Dillon using Earnhardt's number, I view it as Dillon using his grandfather's number.
        Clipper44
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Vergenbuurg
        You are insane.. Earnhardt made that number and Childress is only doing this to help his grandson out.. which he has every right to do. Just cause you can doesn't mean you should. There's a reason why sports teams retire numbers of the all-time greats.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Clipper44
          [blocked]
          Karl
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Clipper44
          The 3 was Childress' number as a driver before he stepped-out of the car and Earnhardt started driving for him.
          Jason
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Clipper44
          It is certainly true that Childress originally drove the number, as the owner/driver, before Dale Sr. took over the car. I agree completely with this. Look at it from his perspective (and remember that while Dale was the driver, it was Mr. C's $$$ and sweat and tears and life poured into that team). It's a no brainer and his grandkids are the perfect inheritors of the number. You can't just diminish the role of the owners in this discussion. They don't have mascots or other team identities to own... the number and their names are it. I don't see any problem with it at all.
      KingTito
      • 1 Year Ago
      NASCAR doesn\'t have a number retirement policy so #3 should be used by anyone who registers with NASCAR per their process to use it. If RCR lets the number go, anyone could use it. Even Scott Speed. I\'m fine with that. If they institute such a policy, then they will have to institute a number retirement policy.
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