Austin Dillon will drive a Nationwide Series car in 2012 with the stylized '3' made famous by Dale Earnhardt, but team owner Richard Childress said Friday he has "no intentions" of ever bringing the stylized 3 to the Sprint Cup Series.
Childress' comments came during a news conference at Texas Motor Speedway announcing Advocare as a 20-race sponsor for Dillon, his grandson, when the young driver moves up to the Nationwide Series next season.
Dillon is currently leading the Camping World Truck Series point standings with two races remaining.
Childress said he spoke with both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt prior to making the decision on whether to bring the No. 3 to the Nationwide Series, and gained the endorsement of both.
"They were really excited," Childress said. "Dale Jr. is absolutely excited to see Austin take the next step and is really proud of what he accomplished."
Richard Childress Racing released a statement from Earnhardt Jr., which said in part: "Austin is taking the next step in his career by moving to the Nationwide Series. He has used the 3 predominantly throughout his career, and I for one am excited to know he'll be running it at the next level."
The 3 car is a sensitive topic for some NASCAR fans because it was Earnhardt Sr.'s number for most of his seven Cup championships. A No. 3 car has not appeared in a race since "The Intimidator" was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 (Kevin Harvick now drives what was the No. 3 car).
Childress said his family's history has always been behind the decision to let Dillon run a No. 3.
"Austin said, 'Pop-Pop, I want to use your number,'" Childress recalled. "I said, 'Austin, that was my number, but Dale made the number famous.' He said, 'Well, it's still your number. I want to run your number.'"
"How you going to tell your grandkid no on something?" Childress added.
Childress said he puts "a lot of stock" in a car number and said he gave it a lot of "serious thought."
"The 3 has so much winning tradition, and Dale made that number famous," Childress said. "...I know he'd be proud to see (Dillon) run it."
Regardless of the number, RCR feels now is the time to move Dillon up a level.
"What we've done in the Truck Series the last few years is really going to prepare us going forward," Dillon said.