It was another one of auto racing’s worst kept secrets.
Everyone knew young Austin Dillon would move into a Sprint Cup ride in 2014, driving for his grandfather, Richard Childress. And everyone knew that the number on the side of his Chevrolet SS would be the number 3.
Yet there he was, sitting next to Pop Pop — sporting a new and apparently now mandatory beard for racing in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup division — taking part in a media presentation at the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center. This was where the NASCAR press corp (what remains of it) was already in attendance to report on the results of NASCAR’s testing of proposed rules changes for the 2014 version of the Gen 6 race car on the intermediate tracks.
And so that’s what the majority of the NASCAR media wrote about – the return of the number 3 on a Sprint Cup car. There also excessive discussion on the social media sites about whether or not it was OK to use the iconic number again. And to be honest, there was far too much discussion on this topic. Did Junior approve? Is Dale Sr. smiling down from heaven with his approval? Does carrying the iconic number on his race car place too much pressure on young Dillon? I mean, don’t these NASCAR fans have anything better to do?
What didn’t get a whole lot of media coverage was the introduction of Dow Chemical as a primary sponsor on Dillon’s car. The Childress sales and marketing staff deserves a high-five for putting together a successful partnership with a Fortune 100 company. This primarily business-to-business arrangement introduces a very high profile international company into a sport that desperately needs the kind of financial support and exposure that a company like Dow Chemical provides.
The Dow/RCR relationship also benefits both parties in the area of research and development, once again reminding us that these simple-looking race cars we see every weekend are far more sophisticated than they appear to be.
Oh, just in case you were wondering where I stand on the subject of the number 3 returning to competition at the Sprint Cup level.
If it brings attention to the sport from the mainstream sports media machine and sparks some interest from the casual race fan, then it’s a good thing.
Other than that, it’s just a number.
Thanks for stopping by.