By admin | December 13, 2013
By Richard Allen
Maybe I’m just not very sentimental or something, but I’ve never understood all the fuss about retiring the jersey numbers of athletes. For that matter, I rarely even know the jersey numbers of most athletes. The number on their uniform in no way adds to or diminishes from their achievements. The fact that Major League Baseball no longer allows players to wear No. 42 doesn’t change what Jackie Robinson did for that sport. It’s just a number, in my opinion.
Likewise, my unsentimental mind doesn’t get all the fuss over the No. 3 returning to NASCAR’s top division.
Next season, Austin Dillon will drive a Richard Childress Racing car bearing that number. In my mind, that won’t change the fact that Dale Earnhardt, Sr. won six championships(he won his first title in car No. 2) and dozens of races in a similar set up. But it apparently will for some fans.
Voice your opinion on the No. 3 by voting in the poll question ———————–>
To further my point, the people who matter most in this debate, if it is indeed a debate, believe that the number ought to be back in circulation. Earnhardt’s best friend and his own son have both given their blessing to the use of the number. No one who is protesting can claim either of those two relationship statuses.
Richard Childress not only owned Earnhardt’s cars for much of “The Intimidator’s” career but was also the man’s best friend. They hunted and fished together and shared what was obviously a close personal bond. It would be hard to believe that a man who knew the Hall of Fame driver so well would in any way want to diminish his legacy.
I would find it hard to believe that anyone outside of his own family was more hurt by Earnhardt’s untimely death than Childress.
Childress sacrificed his own driving career and risked his own personal fortune on putting Earnhardt in his car. His opinion on the use of that number means more to me than that of someone who bought a t-shirt after Earnhardt became successful.
Childress will, of course, own the car that will again bear that stylized number when his grandson Austin Dillon takes to the track in 2014.
And furthermore, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has offered his blessing on the use of the No. 3 as well. The son of the legendary driver has stated that his feelings regarding his father’s accomplishments won’t be affected by having another driver on track with the No. 3 on his car.
Junior had his world turned upside down on that fateful day in February of 2001, just as he was coming into his own as a race car driver. The loss of not only his father, but his mentor, must have affected him deeply. It would seem as if there was anyone to take issue with that number being raced again, it would be him. But he doesn’t.
I am not trying to be antagonistic toward the fans of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. with this piece. I’m simply trying to point out the fact that the two of the people who were closest to the man do not have a problem with the No. 3 being brought back to Sprint Cup racing. If they don’t have a problem with it, then I certainly do not.
I am not going to pretend that I knew Dale Earnhardt, Sr. or have any sort of personal insight, but the fact that his old number will be put to use by the grandson of his best friend and car owner would most likely have pleased him.
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