After more than a decade on the sidelines, the no. 3 car is back in NASCAR. Richard Childress Racing announced on Wednesday that Austin Dillon will drive the Chevrolet car that was last driven by the late Dale Earnhardt.
The car was last driven by Earnhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500, when the legendary driver died in a crash. Dillon, last season’s Nationwide Cup Champion, will drive the car in the Sprint Cup Series in 2013.
Dillon said speaking with Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr., helped put him at ease about filling his late father’s shoes. Dillon also said the relationship between their families (Childress is Dillon’s grandfather) helped the two racers find common ground.
“I just reached out to him one day at a test and started talking to him,” Dillon said. “My mom actually used to take Dale Jr. to Oakridge, where he used to go to school. She used to babysit him, her and my dad both.”
Childress said it was important to keep the car close, as both he and Earnhardt drove.
“Having my own grandson to be able to get into that car is really special,” he said. “I’d never put no one in it, except family--an Earnhardt or one of my family members.”