TALLADEGA, Ala.—An iconic car will pace the field at the start of the 1000bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.
Richard Childress will pilot the No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet that Dale Earnhardt wheeled to his 10th win at Talladega and his 76th and final Cup victory in NASCAR.
For Childress, the moment also celebrates the 50th anniversary of RCR at the track where it all started for the team owner—behind the wheel of the No. 13 Chevy.
“I came back with about $4,000 – $5,000, more money than I had ever seen in my life,” Childress said of his 23rd-place finish at what was then Alabama International Motor Speedway. “I figured I would never have to work another day in my life, but here I am still working 50 years later.”
RCR has 12 wins at Talladega—second only to Hendrick Motorsports’ 13 victories. Childress’ grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon will commemorate the milestone with special liveries this weekend and will roll off 20th and 21st, respectively. Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet will feature a gold paint scheme.
"Talladega Superspeedway is very cool because the track is very important to the history of Richard Childress Racing,” Dillon said. “It's where RCR pretty much got everything going. My grandfather gets all the recognition for that. We're going to celebrate that history when he takes part in pre-race ceremonies this weekend.
“It's going to be special to see him out there in the same No. 3 Chevrolet that Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove to victory lane at Talladega. I know he's pumped for that. Hopefully, we get the pole so we can push him around a little bit on the track."
Austin Dillon won the 2018 Daytona 500 but is still seeking his first Talladega win. In April, he started from the pole and finished 14th with the new package. In 12 starts, his best finish was third in 2016. He has two top 10s but five DNFs.
“I really enjoy it,” Dillon said of Talladega. “All the Chevrolet cars work really well together at these plate tracks. It's given us two shots to win. I feel like as a company, we've been really close. We thought Daytona was going to be our shot to get into the Playoffs.
“Obviously, we wrecked right before the rain came trying to hold the lead. It will be fun and I'd love to get out there on the speedways and try to make it happen. It always gets interesting."
Ty Dillon is sporting a green wrap on the No. 13 car at Talladega. The younger sibling has been extremely consistent on the 2.66-mile superspeedway where he’s made five starts, completed every lap and averaged a 14.2 finish. Dillon started 13th and finished 17th in the spring.
“I asked my grandfather, “Why the green? Why 13?”. He said my luck was so bad in my career at that point that I needed to do everything that was superstitious to see if it would turn it around,” Ty Dillon said. “He said it did from that point on.
“So, this is the car that turned it around for him. I think the green is so ugly that it looks cool (laughs) is the way I would explain it. I think it looks really cool out on the track, with just the throwback. It’s pretty fast today. If we win the race, we might be green for a lot longer.”