If Austin Dillon brings the No. 3 into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series over the next year or two, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is cool with it.
The son of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – who made the '3' famous – said he doesn't believe numbers are tied to drivers as much as he believes in the legacy of numbers as a whole.
"The number is more of a bank that you just deposit history into," Earnhardt Jr. said Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "It doesn't really belong to any individual."
Richard Childress, who owned Earnhardt Sr.'s car, recently said he would bring the No. 3 along with Dillon into the Nationwide Series next season. Dillon is one of Childress' grandsons and won the Camping World Truck Series championship on Friday.
But Childress also said he would not bring the '3' into the Cup series with the same slanted style as Earnhardt's number.
Earnhardt Jr. said it would be unfair to deny Dillon the opportunity to keep running the No. 3 since the latter driver has run it since he was young.
Dillon has said he drives a No. 3 to honor his grandfather, who also drove it.
"When you put the colors and the style with it, it's a little iconic to the sport," Earnhardt Jr. said. "But Austin is a good kid, he seems to have a great appreciation for what's happening to him and what's going on around him. I would be happy if he wanted to keep doing that."
Earnhardt Jr. said Dillon must have known some controversy might swirl around the decision to run a No. 3 car as he progressed in NASCAR's ranks, but gave his blessing to the move.
"It's got to get back on the racetrack one of these days," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It can't be gone forever."