Its been 16 years since Dale Earnhardt SR last took a lap around a Cup Series track.
While the man known as The Intimidator is still greatly missed by The NASCAR community to this day and the safety innovations his death inspired are still seen everywhere, there has not been a driver that could fill his shoes. Of course drivers like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and even Jeff Gordon have tried to fill the role played by Earnhardt, and have admittedly come close in doing so, but no one has really reached his legendary status.
Then came Austin Dillon, who despite struggling for a few years before winning the first Cup Series race of his career this season, made the playoffs for the second year in a row and continues to have strong showings week after week. Furthermore, he is starting to adapt the attitude of the man who made the black #3 famous in the first place, which is a good sign for the future of RCR.
“I’m not afraid to make moves,” Dillon said before Sunday’s elimination race at Dover International Speedway. “I kind of have my own personality. I don’t really sway with the wind very much.” Of course the day ended with Dillon being eliminated after failing to make it into the top-12 in points and will have to wait until next season to hunt for his first championship, but his words seem to hint at a shift in intensity and a way to put the rest of the field on notice.
“I’m comfortable in either,”Austin Dillon told reporters at RCR when asked about whether he wants to be a hero or villain in the eyes of the fans.. “I like wearing a black hat every now and then.” Unfortunately for Dillon, it will all just be words until he puts these statements into action like the greats before him did. With that being said and Austin Dillon improving year after year in The Cup Series and bringing RCR back to the top of the mountain, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he will make good on his promise.
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