The iconic #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2014.
Team owner Richard Childress made the highly-anticipated announcement on Wednesday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway that 2013 Nationwide Series champion, and his grandson, Austin Dillon would move up to the Sprint Cup series in the #3 car.
RCR hasn’t fielded a #3 car since the death of seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” said Dillon, who unveiled two paint schemes at Charlotte, a black and white Dow Chemicals scheme, and a yellow and black machine with sponsorship from Cheerios. “Everybody knows who made this number famous. With my grandfather and his friendship, they were able to build something great that will never be touched. But we feel like bringing it back with my grandfather and RCR it’s going to be special. We’ve put in a lot of hard work and effort at the shop and we’re prepared for everything that’s to come.”
Dillon moves up to fill the RCR spot vacated by Kevin Harvick, who will race for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. Crew chief Gil Martin will remain with the team and act as crew chief for Dillon.
“I’ve been paying NASCAR for [the #3] throughout the years,” Childress said of the return of the iconic number. “Bill France Jr. told me one day, ‘you know if we’re ever challenged, we’ll have to let someone have that 3.’ But we weren’t. I knew that with the right opportunity, it would have to be an Earnhardt or one of the Childress family that we would put in behind it.”
“We do get some calls from people that say ‘we don’t want to see it back,’ but for every five of those, we get 95 positive,” he continued. “He [Earnhardt] would want to see this three. He didn’t want to ever see it go away.”