Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Austin Dillon's No. 3 Gains Momentum in Sprint Cup

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Austin Dillon's No. 3 Gains Momentum in Sprint Cup

Article excerpt

In the years between Dale Earnhardt's death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 and 2014, no one drove the No. 3 car at NASCAR's top level.

Still, Earnhardt fans showed up to races decked out in his gear.

The No. 3 has been back on the track in the Sprint Cup Series since 2014, when Austin Dillon took it over, and fans of the No. 3 remain in the stands.

But Dillon's No. 3 is stylized the same as Earnhardt's, so how does he know if the fan likes him or if it's some older Earnhardt memorabilia?

"When it says 'Dow' on it," Dillon said referring to Dow Chemicals, one of his sponsors, "that's another feather in my cap. I'm like, dang, that's awesome. Seeing them with a 3 shirt or Austin Dillon shirt means a lot for me."

In the 2years since Richard Childress announced his grandson would be the first person to race the No. 3 car full-time since Earnhardt's death, Dillon is putting together some of his best performances in NASCAR's top series.

He was 10th in points going into Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, and his three top-five finishes this season are one better than his other two seasons combined.

"It's been a solid year for sure," Dillon said earlier this month at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. "Things are coming easier. The hard work is still double the amount that we put in the first year. But you feel like you fight and fight for the entire race and sometimes it just happens for you. Things have been going well and that's created from everyone at the shop."

Earnhardt's death in 2001 remains one of the most shocking moments in auto racing history. The seven-time Winston Cup champion was known simply as Dale, or by his "Intimidator" nickname. …

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