The powers that be at NASCAR must surely be smiling today. You long time NASCAR fans know that Austin Dillon couldn’t have pick a better occasion to pick up his second career Cup win by taking the checkered flag at the 60th running of the Daytona 500.
If you follow the sport with any degree of seriousness, you know that Austin Dillon is the grandson of this team owner, Richard Childress. He’s the father of Austin’s mother Tina. Back in the day, Childress had none other than Dale Earnhardt racing in the three car. If you go back 20 years to February 18, 1998, The Intimidator won his only Daytona 500 after 20 tries. A 7-year Dillon apparently got in some trouble for climbing all over Earnhardt’s trophy, we’re told.
Fast forward three years, and it was another historic day for the three team at RCR. Earnhardt tragically lost his life on the final lap during the 2001 running of the Great American Race. The day shook the NASCAR world and Childress to the core. The owner who had such a similar background as Earnhardt and one of his closest friends considered shutting it all down. As we all know by now, the three was re-numbered as the 29, and Kevin Harvick was tabbed to succeed the seven-time champion, and wrote plenty of history of his own in the employ of RCR.
When Austin Dillon happened upon the Cup scene, the decision was made to bring back the number three. It bears noting that before Earnhardt raced with that number, Richard Childress drove with that number, made popular by NASCAR pioneer Junior Johnson. Interestingly enough, it was Johnson that brought Childress and Earnhardt together.
Now here we are years later, Austin Dillon has carved his niche in NASCAR history. He was smart enough to pay homage to Earnhardt and his legion of fans still following the sport today. If Earnhardt is somehow watching down on affairs here on earth, you have to imagine he was wearing that lopsided grin, and hoisting his arms in celebration of the racer who was once an ankle biter in the RCR shop.
You can’t make this stuff up. No one would ever buy it otherwise. What a day for NASCAR, what a day for Richard Childress and what a day for Austin Dillon.