2003 Season

Childress to drive No. 3 car at Lowe's
By Jenna Fryer / AP

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Childress unveils the No. 3 Victory Lap Car


Concord, N.C. (August 12, 2003)
Car owner Richard Childress will drive the late Dale Earnhardt's No. 3 Chevrolet in a prerace ceremony at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Childress unveiled the car Tuesday that he will drive alongside four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon during the parade laps before the race Oct. 11.

The car will be part of NASCAR's "Victory Lap" tribute to longtime series sponsor R.J. Reynolds' contributions to the sport. RJR is ending its sponsorship at the end of the year.

"It will be emotional," said Childress, who teamed with Earnhardt to win six of the drivers' seven Winston Cup championships.

Childress had difficulty watching a video of Earnhardt's 1993 victories in The Winston and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's, shown just before he unveiled the commemorative car.

"Just watching the video a while ago with Dale winning the races here in '93, boy, it was hard for me to get up there and talk," he said. "I know it's going to be tough that night."

The special car features Earnhardt's trademark black paint scheme along the bottom with silver serving as the predominate color on the hood, roof and rear deck lid.

The "Victory Lap" logo, honoring Winston, appears on the hood and several other areas of the car.

Childress will drive side-by-side with Gordon, whose No. 24 Chevrolet will have the "Victory Lap" paint scheme representing active series champions.

"Everybody felt really good about doing something for everything RJR had done for the sport and for Dale and myself," Childress said. "Winning the championships and spending the time with the R.J. Reynolds folks was special, and it would take something really, really special for this to happen.

"That's why we brought the No. 3 back out, for this special night."

Earnhardt was killed in a wreck on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, and his No. 3 has not been used since. Childress still retains the rights to it, and has said he will not use it again. NASCAR does not retire numbers.

Childress obtained the number when he drove the car. He retired as a driver during the 1981 season, putting Earnhardt in the car for the final 11 races.

Ricky Rudd drove the car for the next two years, and Earnhardt returned in 1984. Earnhardt had 66 of his 76 career victories driving the No. 3.

Kevin Harvick replaced Earnhardt in the car for the second race of the 2001 season, but the paint scheme was changed and the number became 29.



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