NNS: Daytona Could Be Junior's Last Run In No. 3

Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t intend to keep running paint schemes in honor of his dad and he says this might the last time he drives a car bearing the famous No. 3, so he plans to enjoy this weekend’s Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevy will carry the No. 3 and a blue-and-yellow Wrangler paint scheme in honor of his dad, who was inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May. JR Motorsports, Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide team, is fielding the car and special paint scheme in conjunction with Richard Childress, who owned Earnhardt’s No. 3 cars, and Teresa Earnhardt, Earnhardt’s widow and Earnhardt Jr.’s stepmother.

“This is a one-time deal,” said Earnhardt Jr., who drives for Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series. “I have no intentions of making it a habit to run special paint schemes with my dad’s number every year, and I’m pretty sure this will be the last time I drive the No. 3. It’s my dad’s number. We are borrowing it this weekend to honor him, and I hope the fans remember him when they see this blue-and-yellow car on the track.”

The retro No. 3 Chevrolet will mirror the Wrangler paint scheme made famous by Earnhardt through the 1981 to 1987 Cup seasons. Earnhardt and Childress won Cup championships in 1986-87 with the Wrangler car.

“We’re bringing back this Wrangler paint scheme because it’s kind of what started his whole persona as being the tough guy that he was,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We have a lot of memories of the No. 3 Wrangler car, and I think all my Dad’s fans will get a kick out of seeing it on the track again.”

The Daytona race also marks a reunion of sorts as Earnhardt Jr. will be reunited with cousin Tony Eury Jr., who will serve as crew of the No. 3. Earnhardt Jr. and Eury Jr., both co-owners of JRM, have not worked together as crew chief and driver since they parted ways at Hendrick Motorsports in May 2009.

While Earnhardt Jr. is driving the No. 3, Greg Sacks and Steve Arpin will drive the other two JR Motorsports entries. Sacks will drive the No. 88 while Arpin will be in the No. 7. The race marks the 25th anniversary of Sacks’ memorable victory in the 1985 Pepsi Firecracker 400 at Daytona.

“It’s going to be good to be back behind the wheel of a race car, I can tell you that,” Sacks said. “With the type of equipment Tony [Eury] Sr. and the guys put together, I know we can be competitive.

“I just couldn't pass on an opportunity to race at Daytona in top equipment on the 25th anniversary of my Pepsi Firecracker 400 victory. On top of that, being the only driver in this event that actually raced with Dale [Earnhardt, Sr.] in the Wrangler No. 3 and now being teammates with Dale Jr. in that car is just awesome.” • Richard Petty Motorsports gasman loses job after NASCAR suspends him for violating drug policy