By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
FORT WORTH, Texas - Austin Dillon, in the thick of a fight for the Camping World Truck Series championship, announced Friday at Texas Motor Speedway that he will move up to the Nationwide Series next year with full-time sponsorship from AdvoCare, which specializes in nutrition, weight loss, energy and sports performance products.
With the blessing of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dillon will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet fielded by his grandfather, Richard Childress, who was quick to head off speculation about the future of the number made famous by the late Dale Earnhardt.
"Before we decided to go with the 3, I talked to Dale Jr.," Childress said. "He won two championships, and he won two races with us the last time he drove the 3 for RCR. I talked to him and Kelley (Earnhardt) both, and they were really excited, and Dale Jr. is absolutely excited to see Austin take the next step. He's really proud of what he's accomplished and couldn't be prouder to see the 3 back."
Earnhardt Jr. echoed that sentiment.
"He has used the 3 predominantly throughout his career, and I, for one, am excited to know he'll be running it at the next level," Earnhardt said. "He's a sharp kid with a lot of potential. The respect he shows the sport and his competitors is a reflection of the family values that have molded him into the person he is today. I wish him luck and can't wait to compete with him on the track next season."
That doesn't mean, however, the 3 will move up to the Sprint Cup Series when Dillon, 21, takes the next step in his career.
"Right now we have no intentions of taking the stylized 3 to the Cup series," Childress said.
Dillon led second-place James Buescher by 11 points in the truck series standings entering Friday night's WinStar World Casino 350K at Texas Motor Speedway.
"I feel like what we've done in the truck series the past few years is really going to prepare us going forward," Dillon said. "Hopefully, we can seal this championship off and move in with a good step forward, going into the Nationwide Series."