Dale Earnhardt Jr. Says The 3 Is Just A Number; Addresses National Enquirer, Kahne Rumor

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said would have no problem if another driver wanted to run the No. 3 that his father made famous, he said Friday.

"If somebody wants to run the 3, let ‘em run the 3," he said. "Numbers are numbers and even if somebody runs the 3, I don't think anybody's going to forget what Daddy did with it. I think it's ridiculous to try to retire numbers or favor numbers for certain drivers.

"The 3 meant a lot to Daddy and meant a lot to a lot of race fans, but there's some kid that's growing up that was never a Dale Earnhardt fan but drives a No. 3 and he may want to drive a No. 3 all his life, and to not give that guy that opportunity just ain't fair."

Earnhardt Jr. announced Thursday he will drive a No. 3 car at the Daytona Nationwide Series race in July this summer, and said he was sensitive to fans' opinions about it.

He has tried his best to represent his father's legacy "within the guidelines of respect and taste."

"I think it was appropriate and I think everybody knows I'm pretty careful about all that stuff," he said. "Shoot man, if we really wanted to wear it out, we could have run the 3 all over the place. This seemed like a reasonable opportunity and seemed like if there was a time to ever do it, this was one of the times.

"It's probably uncomfortable for some people that have that kind of connection to him, but being his son, it makes me feel good to do it. I really kind of be quiet about that kind of stuff, but going into the Hall of Fame, I'm pretty proud of him."

Among other topics Earnhardt Jr. discussed:

• Earnhardt Jr. dismissed a National Enquirer report that claimed he got together with his current girlfriend by breaking up her marriage to a University of Kentucky assistant football coach.

"You learn a lot of new stuff about yourself that you never knew before," Earnhardt Jr. said of his frequent appearances in the Enquirer. "There's no truth to that particular story or any of the other ones, for that matter. ... The Enquirer is pretty creative. I gotta hand it to ‘em."

• Earnhardt Jr. won't field a Sprint Cup entry for Kasey Kahne at JR Motorsports or leave Hendrick Motorsports to go drive for his own team, he said.

"That's probably not even worth talking about," Earnhardt Jr. said of the Kahne rumor. "It's not going to happen. It's a good story, good rumor, whatever, but in reality, man, I don't think we'd do that.

"I like working with Rick (Hendrick). I'm going to stick there as long as I can. I'll stick with Rick as long as he'll keep me."

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