Feb 15, 2014; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; The car of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon (not pictured) sits in the garage during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A Mixed Bag Of Reactions To The 2014 Daytona 500 Pole Sitter


Image Courtesy of Getty Images and NASCAR

I’ll have to admit, I had some goosebumps while the Black #3 made his qualifying run on Sunday afternoon. It is apparent that many fans around NASCAR had the same problem as Autin Dillion took to the track at Daytona International Speedway to Qualify the iconic black Chevrolet. With a lap of 45.914 seconds which translates to 196.019 mph, the first year Sprint Cup Driver will start on the pole for The Great American Race.

As a long-time race fan, I know I had mixed emotions about having the #3 on the track in Sprint Cup competition again. I thought it was great when it appeared a few years back in The Nationwide Series, but when reality set in that it would be moving to Cup status this year I started having doubts.

I felt for years that with all the Dale Earnhardt flags that are flown annually around the tracks were a monument to a super-star, and by putting someone else in that car just isn’t right. Now, especially with the car painted black, it infringes on the memory of the Intimidator persona Dale left behind when he died in turn four back in 2001.

Dale Earnhart’s mother, Martha Earnhardt, was interviewed by Fox Sports 1 last week and asked her opinion regarding the new Richard Childress Racing entry to Sprint Cup competition this year. She didn’t appear to be too excited about the return of the number 3, and expressed concern that they decided to paint the car black.

“I can understand it to a point. I know it was Richard’s number when he drove and this is his grandson, and I understand that. As long as they don’t make it look like the No. 3. If they painted it a different color . . . I can sort of deal with it, but I don’t want to see the black No. 3 just like Dale’s. But that’s not my decision.’’

As it turns out, RCR has made all of her fears come true. The car isn’t Mr. Goodwrench, but it’s black, and looks eerily like the car Dale Earnhardt made famous.

I can remember the early days after the crash that ended Dale’s life. Great care was taken when they brought Kevin Harvick up, to number one, give him a different number, and number two, paint the car some other color. So why has it become OK after 13 year, to bring back the 3, and why do they feel compelled to paint it black?

I always felt that the ONLY thing that should change the Status Quo was Dale Jr. If Dale Earnhardt Jr wanted the number, let him have it.

Dale Jr. doesn’t seem to have a problem with Richard Childress putting the car back on the track with his grandson behind the wheel. Dale wanted no part of the legacy that belonged to the car.

So let’s see if Austin Dillon can do what’s expected of him by his grandfather, and every fan around NASCAR, and that is, bring some glory back to the car that Dale Earnhardt made famous with his life!

You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and at the Pit Stop Community at Google+

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