No matter the series, no matter the season, no matter the driver — put a number 3 on the side of a black race car and it attracts attention.
Of course, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove that number for most of his career — and in the final race of his life. It hasn’t been raced in the Cup series since then, although team owner Richard Childress hasn’t ruled out its eventual return.
The number — and the color — will be carried in Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 Automobile Racing Club of America season opener by Ohio driver Drew Charlson. The car is owned by Andy Charlson, Drew’s father, but is entered by long-time series’ team owner Wayne Hixson of Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., near Chattanooga.
Charlson bought the Chevrolet from Richard Childress Racing. The number 3 appeared in an odd way, however.
“I had the number 23 last year but sold it,” Hixson said. “We have everything sitting on 23, so I ended up getting the 2 (for his other entry) and the 3. That way, everything still matched up pretty good.”
But Hixson said he understands the magic that surrounds the No. 3.
“Everybody remembers Earnhardt,” he said. “If you have the 3 number, everybody comes up to you and asks how you got it. We get a lot of conversation over it. Everybody asks about it. I like having it.”
Charlson qualified the car 17th Friday. Jon Wes Townley captured the pole, with Milka Duno qualifying on the outside of Row 1.
SPEED will televise the race live Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET.