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Daytona 500 notes: The No. 3 is back in formation

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The return of the iconic No. 3 to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup competition, long campaigned by car owner Richard Childress and long associated with late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, drew a split reaction from two Earnhardt family members.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday during NASCAR’s Media Day at Daytona International Speedway he welcomed the return of his father’s car number. Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon, Childress’s 23-year-old grandson, will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet in his first season on the circuit, beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 Feb. 23.

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“I feel good with it and I think it’s great for Austin and Richard — a grandson and grandfather to be able come together like that and run a number that’s been in their family for a number of years, and has a lot of history in their family,’’ said Earnhardt Jr.

But evidently Earnhardt Jr.’s grandmother did not share that sentiment.

“I have mixed feelings because I was told that I would never see a No. 3 on the racetrack after Dale died [in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500],’’ Martha Earnhardt told Fox Sports 1. “I can understand it to a point. I know it was Richard’s number when he drove and this is his grandson, and I can understand that.

“As long as they don’t make it look like the No. 3,’’ she added. “If they painted it a different color . . . I can sort of deal with it, but I don’t want to see the black No. 3 just like Dale’s. But that’s not my decision.’’

Rooting interest

Carl Edwards, a native of Columbia, Mo., and a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, said he was “sincerely’’ rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series. “It’s hard to live in Missouri and to say that, but it’s the truth,’’ said Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford fielded by Roush Fenway Racing, which is co-owned by John Henry, Red Sox principal owner and publisher of the Boston Globe. “They’ve done so much for me and my career that I’m a Red Sox fan. Trust me, it was not a contractual obligation. But they’ve been so good to me. I’m behind ’em.’’ . . . Kyle Busch, a devout Broncos fan, said he planned to make good on the Super Bowl wager he lost to Kasey Kahne, a devout Seahawks fan, by walking around Daytona’s garage Friday attired in Russell Wilson’s No. 3 Seattle jersey and a ball cap, which he said he bought online from his cellphone with about six minutes left in the game.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.
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