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  • 06/05/2012, 12:06PM ET

Should it be done?

CuntryBlumpkin (305-247-64) vs mikeycook (16-6-3)
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Should Richard Childress bring the number 3 out of retirement when his grandson, Austin Dillon makes the move to the Cup Series?

Even non NASCAR fans know how significant the number 3 is to NASCAR history. Dale Earnhardt Sr was one of the greatest of all time, and he died doing what he loved. While it was a tragedy and I lost my hero, I say when Austin Dillon comes to the Cup Series, it's time to unretire the number 3.

There are some iconic numbers in NASCAR history. The 43, 11, 21, 17, and all of them are still there. 3 is the only iconic number that isn't out there.

It's been 11 years since the tragedy, it's been long enough. Personally I didn't want Childress to retire the number to begin with. And there's no better choice than Austin Dillon to bring the number back.

He's Richard's grandson. He grew up around Dale Earnhardt and looked up to him as a kid. And throughout his racing career, his number has always been 3. From go karts to where he is now in the Nationwide Series, he has always driven the number 3.

I think it's time for Richard to bring back the number that made him famous.


It seems to me that what you're saying is that no Nascar number should ever be retired. I think that's ridiculous and it's a slap in the face to the history of auto racing. 3 and 43 should be retired forever.

Virtual all major sports retire numbers, to honor their history and the greats of the sport. Having no retired numbers is basically the same as saying you don't honor your own history. Only the present matters.

And the WORST part is that Childress is giving it to his grandson. What has Austin Dillon done to deserve the number 3 other than come from the loins of a Childress. It would be like the Yankees taking Babe Ruth's number our of retirement and giving it to Steinbrenner's grandson, who had never played a day in the majors but was sparkling at AAA. That is the worst kind of nepotism and Dale Sr is probably rolling in his grave.

No wonder Dale Jr doesn't want the number. He's always had a hard time living in his father's shadow. But that hardly means Childress should give it to his grandson.

Is it really worth snubbing the memory of Nascar's greatest drivers just so Austin can sit in a black number 3 and pretend he's Dale Earnhardt Sr?


NASCAR can't retire numbers. The numbers belong to the team owners. And to say 43 should be retired is just dumb. Richard Petty, the driver that made the 43 famous OWNS Richard Petty Motor Sports, the team that runs the 43 car every week.

Richard Childress owns the number 3, in fact he was the one that retired it for a while, but before Dale Earnhardt was racing in NASCAR, Richard was driving the number 3 himself. When you think of Richard Childress Racing, you think of the 3.

In NASCAR, you typically try to honor a legend by continuing his legacy. It's not like Austin Dillon is some talentless punk that's only in the sport because of his connections. He and his brother have been highly thought of prospects since they were 14. Austin dominated the Truck Series last year, won the championship, his number was 3. This season he's sitting in the top 5 in nationwide standings, driving the 3.

Childress should continue the legacy of Dale Earnhardt by allowing his grandson to keep the number he's used since he was a kid looking up to the Intimidator.


First of all, you're wrong about number ownership. NASCAR owns the numbers, though the teams are allowed to copyright certain aspects (like the font/color combination) and they do give the teams great latitude to use the numbers as they please.

Secondly, Childress isn't running #3 to continue the legacy of Earnhardt. He's doing it to make money, by making the public think his grandson is the next coming of Earnhardt because he drives a black #3. Same is true of #43, which technically Petty doesn't own any more since getting absorbed by GEM.

These teams can continue to run these cars out there, cannibalizing their own history to try and promote the present, but they shouldn't. Sports need their history to last and the responsibility of an organization like NASCAR is to ensure that history isn't killed by owners looking to make another quick buck.

When you ask a baseball fan who #3 was, they'll tell you Ruth. In Nascar, until recently, most people would've said Earnhardt. But they will forget now because someone else is in the drivers seat. It will diminish Earnhardt's legacy until he's just another driver.

Austin Dillon may be great, but he's no Petty or Earnhardt.


NASCAR owning the numbers must be a very recent change. When Richard Childress first started using the 33, he had to get permission from Andy Peatree to just use the number, even though the style of the number was nothing like the one Andy Peatree used for his defunct team.


And you make it sound like Austin Dillon driving the 3(he was using the 3 in go karts when Earnhardt Sr was still alive BTW) is going to make people forget about Dale Earnhardt. Fact of the matter is, Richard Petty is still talked about a lot despite a bunch of no names(John Andretti, Jeff Green, etc) driving his 43 ever since he retired.


Dale was inducted into the NASCAR HOF in it's inaugural class. When your legacy is as big as a guy like Earnhardt's or Petty's, you will never be forgotten by the fans of the sport.

Childress has every right to unretire the number that HE DROVE BEFORE EARNHARDT to let his grandson, who HAS USED THE NUMBER SINCE HE FIRST STARTED RACING use it.

It seems like you want to lump baseball and NASCAR into together. Hate to tell you, but the way of honoring a legend in NASCAR is a lot different than honoring a legend in baseball.


Comparing Nascar and baseball is COMPLETELY plausible.

It doesn't matter that the league owns the numbers versus the teams in baseball. A baseball team has to be able to keep at least 40 numbers available at all times so they can have numbers for all of their 40 man roster. That's AFTER they have retired whatever numbers they want to retire. The Yankees have retired the most numbers in MLB, with 16, and they still have no problem having enough unis left to outfit the team. And they'll be fine for decades to come.

In Nascar, after #3 is unretired, there will be 49 numbers in use, out of a possible hundred (00-99). You're telling me that Nascar can't spare 2 numbers for Earnhardt and Petty? That's ridiculous. No one said they had to retire 50 numbers. In fact, those 2 are the only ones that make sense to me at the moment (though if someone added 2-3 more I wouldn't complain.)

As far as Childress having driven #3 prior to Earnhardt, that hardly matters. Bill Cerv had Mickey Mantle's number before Mantle played, but that didn't prevent it being retired.

AND WHY SHOULD CHILDRESS DRIVING IT FIRST MATTER, SINCE HE NEVER WON A RACE???!!!

Comment #1 has been removed
Comment #2 has been removed
June 5, 2012  05:10 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

FIFY

They are iconic numbers, or at least they will be when Gordon and Johnson retire. I just listed numbers where the driver(s) that made the number famous are retired.

June 5, 2012  06:41 PM ET

Even if I had to choose someone to drive the 3 in the Sprint Cup Series, it would be Dale Jr. over Dillon

June 5, 2012  06:43 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Even if I had to choose someone to drive the 3 in the Sprint Cup Series, it would be Dale Jr. over Dillon

If I had my choice it would be Kevin Harvick, the driver Dale Sr hand picked to be his replacement. Besides, Dale Jr drives for Hendricks, Childress's rival, no way in hell Childress lets his rival take the number that made him who is today.

June 5, 2012  07:03 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Even if I had to choose someone to drive the 3 in the Sprint Cup Series, it would be Dale Jr. over Dillon

Ummmmm...no.

Like Outlaw said...should be Harvick.

June 5, 2012  07:29 PM ET

Outlaw, agree with you strongly. How are numbers distributed throughout the league for lack of a better term?

June 5, 2012  07:50 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Outlaw, agree with you strongly. How are numbers distributed throughout the league for lack of a better term?

Team owners can choose from any number not under control of another team, and if the number is inactive, but under control of another owner, rights to the number can be bought or given away. As for the classic numbers, I never really looked into, but I guess it was first come first serve.

June 5, 2012  08:14 PM ET

I can see Outlaw's point in that if it's not tradition to retire the numbers of the greats as it is in other sports then it's really not a big deal. Even in other sports some teams choose not to retire numbers. The Dallas Cowboys, for instance, don't retire numbers. Dez Bryants is wearing Michael Irvin's 88...and it was Drew Pearson's number before that.

but...we are talking about Earnhardt here. I think his importance to the sport combined with the circumstances of his death -should- trump what is the accepted norm. It's not a direct analogy, but I would equate it to MLB retiring Jackie Robinsons number for ALL teams regardless of what the teams wanted. In very rare circumstances what a player accomplished transcends the sport itself. Is Earnhardt on that rare level? I guess that's debatable.

Tough call.

June 5, 2012  08:18 PM ET

I do not follow racing at all, but was curious if their numbers are limited to 2, or can someone be 108, 123, etc.?

June 5, 2012  08:58 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

I do not follow racing at all, but was curious if their numbers are limited to 2, or can someone be 108, 123, etc.?

In the old days, triple digit numbers and letters were used, but now you're limited to 00-99

June 5, 2012  09:03 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

I can see Outlaw's point in that if it's not tradition to retire the numbers of the greats as it is in other sports then it's really not a big deal. Even in other sports some teams choose not to retire numbers. The Dallas Cowboys, for instance, don't retire numbers. Dez Bryants is wearing Michael Irvin's 88...and it was Drew Pearson's number before that. but...we are talking about Earnhardt here. I think his importance to the sport combined with the circumstances of his death -should- trump what is the accepted norm. It's not a direct analogy, but I would equate it to MLB retiring Jackie Robinsons number for ALL teams regardless of what the teams wanted. In very rare circumstances what a player accomplished transcends the sport itself. Is Earnhardt on that rare level? I guess that's debatable. Tough call.

Earnhardt's biggest legacy isn't his 7 championships, it's the safety innovations that were brought on following his death. His death, while it cost me my hero of that time, has saved a lot of lives and serious injuries in NASCAR. So the argument could be made either way really.

Comment #13 has been removed
June 6, 2012  01:53 PM ET

I think if someone started driving the 3 car it would piss off a whole lot of old school NASCAR fans.

June 6, 2012  02:18 PM ET
QUOTE(#14):

I think if someone started driving the 3 car it would piss off a whole lot of old school NASCAR fans.

On the contrary. There is no number 3 in NASCAR, there's nothing out there to remind fans old school and new that there was a Dale Earnhardt Sr in NASCAR and what he meant to the sport. NASCAR isn't a ball sport. It definitely isn't like unretiring Babe Ruth's number.

June 6, 2012  02:18 PM ET
QUOTE(#13):

I think RCR should sell the #3 to SHR so that Danica can drive it.

Danica actually drives for Tommy Baldwin Racing, they just get some funding from SHR.

June 6, 2012  02:40 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

Team owners can choose from any number not under control of another team, and if the number is inactive, but under control of another owner, rights to the number can be bought or given away. As for the classic numbers, I never really looked into, but I guess it was first come first serve.

I guess it has to be that way. I like in how team sports can retire numbers but they're still available with other teams. Why can't they do that? If JGR retired a number, then any other team has an opportunity to purchase the number from NASCAR. JGR retired it so his team won't ever use it again. Shouldn't prevent another team from using it.

June 6, 2012  02:53 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

On the contrary. There is no number 3 in NASCAR, there's nothing out there to remind fans old school and new that there was a Dale Earnhardt Sr in NASCAR and what he meant to the sport. NASCAR isn't a ball sport. It definitely isn't like unretiring Babe Ruth's number.

You are correct. Everyone would agree that IF anyone drives a 3 car in Sprint Cup, it would be HUGE shoes to fill. maybe a better debate would be IF a driver would be willing to drive a 3 car.

June 6, 2012  03:11 PM ET
QUOTE(#18):

You are correct. Everyone would agree that IF anyone drives a 3 car in Sprint Cup, it would be HUGE shoes to fill. maybe a better debate would be IF a driver would be willing to drive a 3 car.

Austin Dillon has always driven the 3 and he looked up to Dale Earnhardt. He would drive the 3.

It's not like Aric Almirola is filling the shoes of Richard Petty driving the 43. Denny Hamlin isn't filling the shoes of Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip by driving the 11. Matt kenseth isn't filling the shoes of David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip driving the 17, and Trevor Bayne isn't filling the shoes of the many legends that drove the 21.

 
June 6, 2012  03:40 PM ET
QUOTE(#19):

Austin Dillon has always driven the 3 and he looked up to Dale Earnhardt. He would drive the 3.It's not like Aric Almirola is filling the shoes of Richard Petty driving the 43. Denny Hamlin isn't filling the shoes of Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip by driving the 11. Matt kenseth isn't filling the shoes of David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip driving the 17, and Trevor Bayne isn't filling the shoes of the many legends that drove the 21.

Touche

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