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"The 3 Factor": What's In a Number Anyway?

Welcome N.C. - Richard Childress Racing August 1994 Credit: Bob Ellis (NASCAR Ranting and Raving)
Welcome N.C. - Richard Childress Racing August 1994 Credit: Bob Ellis (NASCAR Ranting and Raving)

What’s in a number anyway? Why do people have favorite numbers? Why do certain drivers take certain numbers? Because of their sponsors (i.e. Sunoco 94), or it was their father’s number, or it was the only number available, or something else?

What ever it may be, one thing for certain remains: one number still affects people to this day and that number is 3. Putting fan loyalties aside the number 3 means more to me than being the number of my favorite driver of all time, Dale Earnhardt.

I used to run a small NASCAR Pool for my friends a few years ago (it was more about the bragging rights than the money let me tell you) but my life got busy and the pool started to take a back seat so I turned the reigns over to someone else.

In 2001 when Dale died I lamented all season of his passing. With each update of the pool standings I included a section called "The 3 Factor". In it I found various ways the number 3 figured in each of the races since Dale’s death as well as in his life, and I was shocked at how prevalent the number 3 was.

For example;

  • Dale died 3 years after winning his only Daytona 50
  • The year Dale died, 2001, the sum of the digits is 3
  • Kevin Harvick won the 3rd race after Dale died
  • Jr. Johnson, who used to drive car #3, told Dale to drive for Richard Childress in his car, which coincidentally was numbered 3
  • 3 years after Dale’s death his son won the Daytona 500 as well as the Hershey’s Kisses 300 Busch race the same weekend
  • In 2006 Jeff Gordon won his 3rd Daytona 500 when he was 33 years old
  • Richard Petty has the digit 3 in his number (43) and is the only other person who has seven cup championships besides Dale

and so on.

I can keep going on with these "3 Factors" for a long, long time.

But an interesting side effect to "The 3 Factor" happened, while I was doing "The 3 Factor" for the pool I started seeing the relevance of the number three in my life.

For example;

  • The 3rd house I lived in as a child was numbered 33
  • The fourth house I lived in was number 34
  • My son was born at 8:07 a.m. the year Dale died (2001 - recall adding those digits together get you 3) and when you add the digits in the time you get 15, which is the car number Dale had when he drove a Ford for Bud Moore (also, we all know about the number 8 with the Earnhardts and Dale Sr. is a 7-time Champ)
  • My daughter was born 3 years 8 months (Sr. and Jr. numbers) after my son at 12:03 a.m. and those digits add to 15 too
  • The first year I played soccer my number was 2 and then it was the number 3 the next 3 years (Dale’s first full season was spent driving the 2 car), coincidentally my son’s soccer career started with jersey number 2 and then number 3 for the next two years (I wonder what next year will bring?)

and so on.

Again, I can go on with "The 3 Factor" in my life for a long time, but there is one more eerie "3 Factor" I want to share with you: My father died 3 years and 3 months after Dale died.

What’s in a number anyway?