With His FIRST Career Win, Austin Dillon Returns #3 To Victory Lane

Posted by: Jeremy Patterson on 11/17/2021

With the devastating loss of Dale Earnhardt in the closing moments of the 2001 Daytona 500, many believed it would be the end of Earnhardt’s iconic #3 in NASCAR’s victory lane. For many years, the number itself went unused in a sort of mutually-agreed-upon semi-retirement that nobody questioned, they just sort of agreed to let the number rest with Earnhardt’s spirit. Then in 2014, Richard Childress Racing, for whom Earnhardt had driven most of his career, announced that they were bringing the Number Three back to NASCAR Monster Cup competition when Austin Dillon, Childress’ grandson, capped his ascension thorough the ranks and stepped onto the world’s premiere stock car racing stage.

While the move caused plenty of blowback from the still-loyal fans of Earnhardt, The Intimidator softened much of the hostility by giving his blessing to Dillon’s use of the number 3. In the first race of the 2014 campaign, Dillon earned much respect from the fans and his fellow racers when he put his DOW Chemical-sponsored Chevrolet SS on the pole for the Daytona 500. He would finish the up-and-down season 20th in points and second in Rookie of the Year polling behind Kyle Larson. Two thousand fifteen followed a similar path, finding Dillon earning his first Top 5 finish at Michigan but still only managing a mediocre 21st effort in the season-long points chase. Last season would prove Austin’s most successful run, finishing in the Top 5 four times and finishing fourteenth in the points.

This season hadn’t started as planned, but things changed drastically tonight when Austin survived a rain delay to take the win at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, NC. Dillon was chasing perennial powerhouse and seven time world champion Jimmy Johnson when the #48 ran out of fuel, leaving the Lowe’s Chevy coasting as Dillon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr were left to battle it out for the last lap and a half. Dillon would drive away from Busch and Truex Jr to take the checkered flag, returning the legendary #3 to victory lane for the first time since the year 2000, when Earnhardt earned his final career victory at Talladega. The win gives Dillon a much needed boost in the standings, sliding him just ahead of his younger brother Ty Dillon in the points standings. NASCAR is a sport of momentum, so maybe Austin can parlay this win into more strong finishes and make a run at the Chase and the 2017 Monster Energy season championship!

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