Legendary '3' is back on the track - FOX 13 News

Legendary '3' is back on the track

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

That famous number 3 is back. The number the late and legendary driver Dale Earnhardt made famous is back in Cup racing -- and there is still a family connection behind the wheel.

Austin Dillon is driving the number 3. He is the grandson of Richard Childress, the man who owned the team Dale Earnhardt raced for.

"I know in my heart, today, as I sit here, Dale Earnhardt is smiling down," Childress said at Wednesday's unveiling. "He would want to see this 3. He didn't want it to ever go away. I know today that he's accepting this highly. I knew him that well."

The unveiling of Dillon's sponsors, and the fact that the number three is still in the same style that the "Intimidator" had on that side of the black number 3, created an instant poll on Twitter -- a poll that was split nearly 50/50 between those who liked the move and those who didn't.

Earnhardt's fans are fiercely loyal and fiercely protective of the man and his memory. His son, Dale Jr, just won the most popular driver award for the 11th year in a row.

But Dillon has been running in a number 3 since he started racing his way up through the ranks. He won the Truck championship in 2011 driving the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, and the Nationwide title this year in the same number.

"My grandfather (Richard Childress) has done a great job of teaching me how to handle certain responses to things, and I think we're going to go forward with it," Dillon said. "I've heard a lot of good feedback from the fans, and every time I'm at an autograph session, I've had someone ask what's going to happen. They are excited and we are, too, at RCR."

"It's what our sport was built on -- family and history -- and a great opportunity for all of our sport to see this No. 3 back on the track."

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