Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives OK to No. 3

Updated: July 5, 2013, 1:56 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said again this week that he's OK with his father's No. 3 returning to the Sprint Cup Series.

Austin and Ty Dillon, the grandsons of Richard Childress, have driven the No. 3 in dirt racing, the Truck series and in Nationwide races for RCR. It's assumed that when Austin Dillon steps up to the Sprint Cup Series, he'll be in the No. 3.

"I think it will be great," Earnhardt said, according to FoxSports.com. "It was an iconic number for my father, and it means a lot to a lot of his fans. This sport doesn't really retire numbers, and all the numbers have history tied to them for several different reasons. The No. 3 is no different."

Dale Earnhardt won six Cup titles and won 67 races in the No. 3 before his death in 2001.

Earnhardt Jr. has been following the careers of the Dillon boys and is supportive. Austin Dillon, 23, has already won a Truck championship and finished third in Nationwide.

"He has earned the right to run that number as long as he wants,'' Earnhardt said, according to FoxSports.

"It could have been anybody, but it's Austin. It could have been any kid coming up through the ranks that had ran that number, and that's his number. Maybe he's not even an Earnhardt fan, maybe that is just his number.

"[If] he wants to run it, I think it's not really fair to deny somebody that opportunity. I'm OK with it. I know that might not be the way a lot of people feel or some people feel, but I'm sure it's the minority that feels that way. I think that a lot of people will be telling Austin positive things about it."

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