No. 3 car returning to Nationwide

The return of Nationwide Series teams to Richard Childress Racing also signifies the return of the venerable No. 3 Chevrolet to competition full time in 2012.

The merger between Kevin Harvick Inc. and RCR will enable KHI’s existing teams — the No. 2 car with Elliott Sadler and the No. 33 with a cast of current Sprint Car drivers — to compete in the NNS along with Childress’ grandson Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Chevrolet.

Dillon, 21, drives the No. 3 Silverado in the Camping World Truck Series. He is fourth in the point standings. Dillon competed in four Nationwide non-companion events for KHI this season. He scored one top-five, three top-10s and completed every lap. His average finish is 8.5.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won both his Nationwide Series titles behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet when the tour was still called the Busch Series in 1998 and 1999. Ron Hornaday Jr. took over the seat in 2000 and was the last driver to run a full season in the No. 3 Chevrolet. Earnhardt has revived the car on three occasions since his father’s passing: Daytona and Charlotte in 2002 and then again last July at Daytona when he won in the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet.

Dillon’s brother Ty will take over the driving duties in the No. 3 truck next season. The 19-year-old leads the ARCA Series points and has won seven of the first 16 events.