On February 18, 2001, NASCAR fans got the shock of their life when Dale Earnhardt's iconic number 3 car smashed into the wall at the Daytona 500, killing the 7 time champion. The number hasn't been seen in a Sprint Car Series race since then. But, all of that will change next year when Austin Dillon will get behind the wheel of the number 3.

ESPN is reporting that Richard Childress Racing, who own the rights to the number 3, will finally put the famed number back on the track next year with Austin Dillon driving it.

Dillon, who is Richard Childress' grandson, has been using the number in the Nationwide Series, and will be the first driver since Earnhardt's death to use it in Sprint Cup.

"I know in my heart, today, as I sit here, Dale Earnhardt is smiling down," Childress said at Wednesday's unveiling. "He would want to see this 3. He didn't want it to ever go away. But I felt it was the thing to do right after Daytona, and I know today that he's accepting this highly. I knew him that well." (via ESPN)

Personally, as a huge Dale Earnhardt fan, I will be glad to see the number 3 back on the track. Granted, I had hoped that one day Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be the driver. But, nevertheless, at least we'll be seeing the number back on the track.

Like Richard Childress, I think it's time.

According the ESPN report, the number 3 Chevrolet will be sponsored by Dow, Bass Pro, Realtree and General Mills, but none of those will have the iconic black paint scheme, at least for now.

In fact, here's what paint schemes Richard Childress Racing unveiled on their Facebook page.

Richard Childress Racing Facebook

So, what are your thoughts on the number 3 being back in Sprint Cup. Is Austin Dillon the right choice?