DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Austin Dillon said Thursday he'd be honored to drive the late Dale Earnhardt's iconic No. 3 in the Sprint Cup Series.
Dillon is the grandson of Richard Childress, who owns the rights to the number and uses it for Dillon in the Nationwide Series. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has also used the number before in the Nationwide Series, but the No. 3 has not been in a Cup race since Earnhardt's 2001 death.
"I'd be excited to run it," Dillon said at Daytona International Speedway. "I still would love the approval of my grandfather and the guys. Seeing more fans each and every week come up to him is the best way to do it — the more people coming to him wanting to see it."
Dillon picked up his first career Nationwide victory last week at Kentucky, and Childress said after the win he'd be open to moving the number up with his grandson. But he'd want the number to have a different style from how Earnhardt had it designed, and he'll only ever let an Earnhardt or a Dillon use the number. Ty Dillon currently uses the number in the Truck Series.
"I look at the No. 3 as family. I drove it, I was fortunate. I didn't do near as good as some of these other drivers did," Childress said at Kentucky. "It's special because you have so many fans who want to see the No. 3 and then you have some who question running the No. 3.
"I wouldn't let anyone else other than an Earnhardt or a Dillon drive the No. 3 in Trucks. Once we get done with the Trucks with Ty and Austin, no one will drive the No. 3 in Trucks again unless it's one of their kids or an Earnhardt."
Austin Dillon said he's not in a hurry to get to the Cup Series with the number.
"I enjoy running it where I'm at right now," he said. "It's going great. There comes a lot of pressure with that number, so moving up would just be more pressure. It pushes you harder. We'll see."