Dale Earnhardt’s mother has ‘mixed feelings’ about return of legendary No. 3

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The mother of the late Dale Earnhardt has mixed emotions that the car number associated with her son will be returning to the Sprint Cup Series this season.

“I have mixed feelings because I was told that I would never see a number three on the race track after Dale died,” Martha Earnhardt said Wednesday in a nationally televised interview on Fox Sports 1.

After a 13-season absence, the No. 3 that Earnhardt made famous will be back on Cup race tracks this season with rookie Austin Dillon behind the wheel.

Dillon is the grandson of Richard Childress, who was also the team owner for the car that Earnhardt drove to six of his seven Cup championships before being killed in a last lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.

“I can understand it to a point,” Martha Earnhardt said. “I know it was Richard’s number when he drove and this is his grandson, and I understand that.”

But at the same time, Martha Earnhardt believes as long as the paint scheme of the No. 3 is different than the jet black GM Goodwrench-sponsored car that her son literally drove into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it’s fine with her.

“As long as they don’t make it look like the number three (that her son drove),” Martha Earnhardt said. “If they painted it a different color … I can sort of deal with it, but I don’t want to see the black number three just like Dale’s. But that’s not my decision.”