DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The white No. 3 decals are no bigger than a fist and sit just above and behind the driver’s side window of all the Richard Childress Racing team’s Chevrolets. Crew members wore black baseball caps with the same No. 3 logo and driver Tony Stewart strolled through the Daytona International Speedway garage Friday afternoon clutching one of the prized caps himself.
Friday marked exactly 10 years since the driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 3, seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, was killed in Turn 4 of this track after crashing on the last lap of the Daytona 500. The speedway will remember the NASCAR icon with a moment of silence and fans will hold up three fingers on the third lap of Sunday’s Daytona 500.
But for such an overwhelming event, it has been a subdued, subtle and suiting anniversary.
For the past week, Earnhardt’s competitors, teammates and friends have shared emotional stories about that fateful Sunday afternoon. But the one person you won’t see participate in any contrived memorial this weekend is Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr. No hat, no decal. None necessary.
“I’d personally rather just watch it and stand on the sidelines,” Earnhardt said of the various tributes and memorials planned for the weekend.
“It’s more fun for me hearing how other people reflect, hearing other people’s stories. I know how I feel in my heart and I don’t feel a real need to discuss that a lot.
“I want to do what’s right and honor him, but I don’t need to do it in front of a bunch of people. I feel like he carries his own weight and he doesn’t need me being a part of the celebration or whatever you want to call it. I don’t want to take away from it in any way.”