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No disrespect, but 3 is back on track

Childress has Junior's blessing to use iconic number

November 23, 2011

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The iconic No. 3 may be back in the Sprint Cup starting lineup one day, a possibility that may send some NASCAR fans into an emotional tizzy.

That number belonged to Dale Earnhardt, the late, great Intimidator on the NASCAR circuit. Would it be disrespectful for another driver to drive a car with that number? We may find out soon enough. Austin Dillon — the grandson of Richard Childress — already is set to drive a No. 3 Chevy in the Nationwide Series next season. The natural progression points to Dillon moving up to drive the car in the Sprint Cup Series.

Childress — Earnhardt's former team owner and best friend — reached out to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his sister Kelly, asking for permission to use the No. 3 in the Nationwide Series.

Junior's answer: Thumbs up.

"I don't look at the numbers tied to drivers as much as just the history of the number," Earnhardt Jr. said last week. "The number is more of a bank, you know, that you just deposit history into. It doesn't really belong to any individual. Austin's ran that number and you can't really deny him the opportunity to continue to run it. It just wouldn't be fair.

"Dad did great things. He was a great ambassador for the sport and we're still as a whole, reaping the benefits of all he accomplished and what he did that put us in front of a lot of people. But even before that, the number was Richard's. Richard drove it. And someone else drove it before then.

"But I think it would be fine by me for (Dillon) to do that. I think that it's got to get back on the race track one of these days."

Busch gets bratty: It's a coin flip every week as to which one of the Busch brothers is going to be a bigger jerk. Last weekend in Homestead, Fla., it was Kurt Busch. He ripped into ESPN pit road reporter Jerry Punch with a cluster of F-bombs after Busch had car troubles in the Ford 400.

"Penske Racing extends its apologies to Dr. Jerry Punch, our media partners … and fans for Kurt Busch's inappropriate actions," Busch's team owner said in a statement. "These actions do not represent Penske Racing and are inconsistent with the company's standards for behavior, respect for others and professionalism."

Too much security? A quick aside about the overzealous security folks at Homestead-Miami Speedway. While it's understood that security needed to be beefed up because First Lady Michelle Obama was visiting, some local police officers went overboard trying to keep working officials with NASCAR permanent credentials (hard cards) away from the pits shortly before the race.

Those people included Kate Edwards, the wife of Carl Edwards. "I'm the wife of one of the drivers," Edwards pleaded with one of the officers, who didn't budge. Finally, another person in the party identified Edwards and they let her through.

George Diaz