When the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro heads to the Daytona Road Course on Sunday, they will have a different driver. Austin Dillon tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms. Now he will go into quarantine and will miss the Cup Series' first trip to the Road Course in Florida.
"This morning, Richard Childress Racing's NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon tested positive for COVID-19," the team said in a statement. "In accordance with NASCAR's safety protocol, Dillon is self-quarantining away from RCR's facilities and will not be competing in this weekend's NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course. Austin's wife Whitney and son Ace remain healthy and symptom-free. Kaz Grala will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet for RCR this weekend."
While missing the race is not an ideal situation for Dillon, he was prepared for a potential positive test. He recently revealed to Jeff Gluck of The Athletic that the drivers had to sign a coronavirus replacement. At the time, Dillon identified AJ Allmendinger as his replacement, but he initially wanted a much bigger name to drive his stock car in a nod to NASCAR history.
"Well, just because I'd want to see him in the 3 car, it would be Dale [Earnhardt] Jr.," Dillon said. "I actually called him because we had to sign a COVID[-19] replacement, just in case. Mine is AJ [Allmendinger], but I hit up Junior to see if he'd want to be a replacement and he was like, 'Eh.' He only does one race a year [in Xfinity]. So he thought about it, but he was kind of like, 'I'm done with Cup racing.' But it would be cool to see him in the 3." Earnhardt's father, the late Dale Earnhardt, previously drove the No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet while making his name as "The Intimidator."
Dillon may miss his first Cup Series race on the Daytona Road Course, but this will not hurt him in the playoff race. He already booked his ticket after securing his first victory of the season. Dillon won the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 while teammate Tyler Reddick secured second place.
Sunday's race will be Grala's first in the Cup Series. He has previously started two Xfinity Series races for RCR during the 2020 season, finishing with a career-best fourth-place at Road America. He also already secured a victory at Daytona International Speedway during a 2017 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race.