Remember those old Schoolhouse Rock lyrics:
"Three is a magic number,
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity
You get three as a magic number."
Three is indeed a magic number for NASCAR.
To start, there are three Nation series in NASCAR. The Sprint Cup, The Nationwide Series, and The Craftsman Truck Series.
For some fans, Toyota remains an outsider and will only pledge allegiance to the American "Big Three," GM, Ford, and Daimler-Chrysler.
Three represents joy for some, pain for others.
Just this weekend, Kenny Wallace finished third in the Nationwide Series race and was ecstatic. It was his first top-five finish in nearly three years. Also celebrating a third place finish was Denny Hamilin in the Sprint Cup series, even though it was his career best in Atlanta, he was terribly disappointed, certain that he could have won.
Yes, three is a magic number.
Between the years of 1976-1978, Cale Yarbourgh won three back-to-back championship titles. Jimmie Johnson is hot on his heels to share that record by gunning for his own three consecutive titles. Jimmie has won the last two championships and leading the Chase by 183 points with just three races to go, it looks as if we'll have another three-peat.
In 2009 three tracks will swap schedules, Atlanta will move it's fall race to Labor Day. Fontana gives up it's Labor Day weekend to move into the chase for the championship and Talladega will move it's second race nearer to the end of the season.
Earlier this year three NASCAR giants, the late champion Benny Parsons, retired driver Ricky Rudd and "Papa" Joe Hendrick, the father of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick had parts of the Rockingham Speedway named in their honor for being instrumental in the success of "The Rock."
It is possible that three's biggest influence on the sport would be the number "3" itself. Dale Earnhardt drove the No. 3 car for most of his career. The black and red No. 3 remains one of the most famous logos in racing.
Dale Earnhardt was killed in an accident in 2001 during the Daytona 500. Owner Richard Childress immediately retired the GM Goodwrench No. 3, publicly pledging the number would never again adorn the side of a black car sponsored by GM Goodwrench, the color scheme and sponsor Earnhardt had driven since 1988.
For the remainder of the year, broadcaster's mics went silent while fans celebrated his legacy by holding up three fingers on the third lap of every race.
Earnhardt's team was re-christened as the No. 29 team, with the same sponsor but with a new look (a reversed color scheme with white with black numerals and a black stripe on the bottom) for the following races at Rockingham and Las Vegas. For Atlanta, a new GM Goodwrench scheme was introduced, with angled red stripes and a thin blue pinstripe, resembling the Childress AC Delco Chevrolets driven in the Busch Series.
Three weeks after Earnhardt's death, Harvick scored his first career Cup win at Atlanta driving a car that had been prepared for Earnhardt. In the final lap of the 2001 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500, Harvick beat Jeff Gordon by .006 seconds.
Harvick's tire-smoking burnout on the frontstretch with three fingers held aloft outside the driver's window proved cathartic for those whose hero had been taken way too soon.
Good or bad, three is a magic number, yes it is.
The number three was referenced 27 times in this article, once again confirming the fact that three is a magic number because as the song states 3 x 9 = 27.