The number 3 and NASCAR racing will always be synonymous with one man, Dale Earnhardt. During his career the worst place another driver could be was between Dale Earnhardt and the finish line. To this day his name is spoken around NASCAR speedways with a tone of reverence and respect. How could an upstart driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series dare to put the number 3 on his car?

The driver of that Nationwide number 3 is Austin Dillon and yesterday Austin Dillon followed in the steps of the legendary Earnhardt by winning a championship. Earnhardt's longtime car owner Richard Childress actually leases the rights to the number 3. Austin Dillon is Richard Childress' grandson.

When Dale Earnhardt died in a crash at Daytona Speedway there was talk of retiring the number 3 from NASCAR's biggest series. Childress declined to do that at the time. Next year it is expected that the number 3 will return to NASCAR's biggest stage again on the side of Childress owned car, again with a champion behind the wheel. Austin Dillon is expected to make the jump from the Nationwide Series to Sprint Cup next year.

Speaking of Sprint Cup racing, today the championship for that series will be settled. It is almost a given that Jimmie Johnson will claim his sixth title. That would put him just one championship behind the seven championships of two NASCAR legends, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty.