Twenty years after the No.3 Chevrolet pulled into Victory Lane in the Daytona 500, it returned Sunday night. The driver who climbed out was not the same. The sponsors, crew chief, and other variables were also different.
One thing was the same, however. No, not just the team, Richard Childress Racing.
A penny on the dash.
Last weekend, Dillon came across a young fan during an autograph session for the Clash. Dillon doesn’t think he or those he was with knew much about racing, but Dillon noticed they were enjoying themselves.
“Funny thing is, he had a white Ford hat on. I said, man, you got to take that off,” Dillon recalled. “I signed my hat, gave it to him and said, ‘Now look, I got to be your favorite driver, right?’ He was like, ‘All right. Cool. I got you now.’
“He was probably seven, eight years old, about the same age I would have been 20 years ago. The next day he had my hat on, and I was walking through the garage, and I saw him at the fence, and he yelled at me. I turned and … walked over to him and he was like, ‘Hey, I got this for you.’ It was a lucky penny. Put it in the car, and it’s sitting on the dash right now. It’s pretty special.”
For those who don’t remember, Dale Earnhardt Sr. had what he called a lucky penny glued to the dashboard when he won his first and only Daytona 500. Earnhardt had come into possession of it before the ’98 race when six-year-old Wessa Miller gave it to him, saying it would help him finally win the race that had eluded him.
Also in Victory Lane that day? Austin Dillon. Earnhardt, of course, drove for Dillon’s grandfather, Richard Childress.
20 years ago. pic.twitter.com/HnJjpZCR3K
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 18, 2018
Dillon said his penny would remain glued in the car that will be on display for the year in the Daytona 500 museum.
“I’d like to find that kid, though,” he said. “If somebody knows him and could get him to the track tomorrow, that’d be cool.”