SPARTA, Ky. - The No. 3 Chevrolet made a memorable return to the Sprint Cup Series earlier this year when rookie Austin Dillon put the Richard Childress Racing machine on the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500.

Today will mark the iconic car number's first appearance in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

"People are still wanting to…make sure we are running well," Dillon said this week. "We are doing a lot at our shop to make the car faster and get out front and put it where it belongs."

The number popularized by Dale Earnhardt had not been used by RCR in NASCAR's premier series since the seven-time champion's death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Dillon is the grandson of team owner Richard Childress and understands the responsibility that comes with having the No. 3 on the side of his car.

"I am putting a lot of responsibility on my shoulders to go out and run well for RCR," he said.

The 2011 Camping World Truck Series champion and reigning Nationwide Series champion sits 18th in the Sprint Cup standings after 16 races. Over the past seven races, he's finished 20th or better in six.

"We've hit a stride here lately where we are getting some solid runs going, just not getting the finishes that we wanted," said Dillon, who has not had a DNF this season. "Flat tires, running out of fuel, some mistakes that we wish we could get back. Glad we are here at Kentucky. It's a great track for us."

Dillon knows his way to victory lane at Kentucky Speedway. He took the No. 3 there after winning the track's two Nationwide Series races from the pole in 2012.

"I think my dirt racing background (helps) because it is a rougher track," he said. "I don't really complain about the bumps. I'm just used to doing whatever it takes to make the car turn. If I can get it to turn, the next thing I work on is driving. The track is fun and it gives you different lines you can mess around with to go fast."

- Kentucky Speedway -