When Austin Dillon crossed the finish line to capture the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday/Monday evening he became the 13th different driver to win in a car number 3. That might come as a shock to some people as all of the commentary post-race left the impression that only Dale Earnhardt EVER drove a car numbered 3. Turns out 78 other drivers have driven with the number 3 on their car, it just is that Earnhardt has the most starts and wins with the number. Continue reading “The Number 3”
One day after having a dust up with his boss’ grandson, Kevin Harvick apologized for comments made after Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. He chalked it up to emotions getting the best of him in the heat of battle.
“There was just a lot of emotion involved,” Harvick told FOX Sports 1 before the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. “I hate it for everybody at RCR. You go back and look at the things that happened, and sometimes you regret the things that you say for sure. Yesterday was definitely one of them. I hate it for my guys, and everybody working on the cars. Obviously, when those emotional situations come about, you say things that you really don’t want to say. I just want to apologize to all of those guys, work hard today and try and do everything we can to win the race.”
While he backed away from the comments, there has to be some sort of truth in Harvick’s original comments. At least the perception of what he believed the situation was at Richard Childress Racing and exactly why he will step away after this season.
Obviously apologizing is the correct course of action considering he’s still got three (at the time four) more races to run and a championship to try and win. You don’t want the team to sabotage his efforts out of spite, which you’d think they’re above that, but you never know.
To Austin and Ty Dillon’s credit they’ve worked hard and won while moving up the NASCAR ladder. It’s not like they are buried in the low 20s and are getting moved along because of who their grandfather is. Austin has won the Truck title and is on his way to a Nationwide title this season. Ty has a couple of wins, but wasn’t consistent enough this year to contend for the Truck title.
This is NASCAR in 2013, it’s more about who you know than your driving talent. I just believe the Dillons have shown enough talent to warrant what they’ve been given so far. It’s just the perception their being handed everything gets under the skin of certain people, like Harvick, who perceive they’ve had to work hard for what they have gotten.
Cooler heads will prevail at Richard Childress Racing, it’s just another example of why it is time for Harvick and the team to go down separate paths after this year.
There is nothing official for the 2014 season, but all reports indicate that Austin Dillon will be driving a number 3 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This would be the first time that the number has run since Dale Earnhardt died in a last lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.
The mere idea of Dillon running the number has been met with mixed responses from fans. One half say it’s time enough for the numbers return, the other half are opposed to the idea of using the number. In my opinion, it’s time to bring the number back.
The shock of Earnhardt’s death made it natural for owner Richard Childress to go in another direction for the rest of that year. Coping with a driver’s death is done in different ways by teams.
When Davey Allison died in July of 1993, team owner Robert Yates decided to skip the next race, but keep the #28 on the car. This came at the urging of Allison’s family. The same was done when Alan Kulwicki died earlier in the same year. Kulwicki was also the team owner, so the team was looked after by Felix Sabates until a buyer could be found, but also kept Kulwicki’s #7 on the car.
In 2000, Sabates was unfortunately put in the position once again as the direct team owner. Kenny Irwin, Jr. died during a practice crash at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Sabates owned team withdrew from that race and the next week had re-branded the car from #42 to #01. It wasn’t until 2003 did the #42 reappear, which came after Chip Ganassi bought a majority stake in Sabates’ team.
Petty Enterprises had to endure the same situation as Sabates when Nationwide Series driver Adam Petty also died a practice crash at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The team did not change the number, 45, but rather team owner Kyle Petty (also Adam’s father) decided that only he would be the only driver of a car with a number 45 on it. That was the case from then until the tail end of Petty’s career in 2007 and 2008 when he had Chad McCumbee fill in for some races.
It all comes down to how a team can cope with something that might be a constant reminder of a fallen teammate. For Childress and his team, the scar was large and painful for a very long time after not only losing a teammate, but a dear friend.
In Dillon, they have a driver who grew up with the number (Dillon is Childress’ grandson) and understand what it means to his father and fans. While he’s not Dale Earnhardt, Dillon will represent the number with respect and I think having a #3 back on the track will do a lot for fans to finally be able to get over the loss of a legend.