This weekend marked a historic milestone for Nascar and Richard Childress Racing. For the first time since the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr, 13 years ago, the #3 Chevrolet took the field in a Nascar race. Piloted by Austin Dillon, the grandson of team owner Richard Childress, the 3 car made its first laps since the 2001 Daytona 500, where Dale Sr was tragically killed in a last lap crash. In a race won by Dale Earnhardt Jr, Dillon drove his Chevy to a very respectable 9th place finish.
The events surrounding Dale Sr’s death finally came full circle yesterday. For many, it was a long-awaited and cathartic experience. Sales of the late Dale Earnhardt’s merchandise skyrocketed leading up to the race, as Nascar fans prepared to close the book on one era in the sport’s history and enter another. More than any other fans, Nascar followers treasure and idolize the sport’s rich past. Many, in fact, were opposed to the #3 car returning to competition at all, believing that the number should be retired. Indeed, for a long time it did not appear as though the #3 would ever return to a race. But, with the blessing of Dale Earnhardt Jr and a capable young rookie behind the wheel, the car finally did. If Dale Sr was looking down on yesterday’s race, he would have been proud to see his old car doing the thing he loved to do the most–racing.