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By SHARON GINN, KEVIN KELLY and Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- While mourning the death of his father, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has decided to race in Sunday's Dura-Lube 400.
Dale Earnhardt Inc. confirmed Tuesday that Earnhardt Jr. has not changed his plans to race at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in the Daytona 500.
EARNHARDT FUNERAL: The service for Earnhardt is noon Thursday at Charlotte's largest church, which can seat 5,800 on three levels.
The 30-minute service at Calvary Church will be open only to family; employees of Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress Racing; Winston Cup teams; and tracks and sponsors associated with Earnhardt Inc. and Childress Racing.
"Because it is impossible to accommodate the tremendous outpouring of support from those who followed Dale," a NASCAR statement read, "we are unable to open the service the public."
Fox Sports Net will provide live coverage, including a retrospective, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The church will open at 10 a.m.
NO. 3 FOREVER?: Fans hoping to see Earnhardt's No. 3 retired might not get their wish.
NASCAR has never retired a car number, in part because of the limited amount of numbers available (0-99).
For approximately $1,200, Winston Cup car owners lease numbers from NASCAR one year at a time. Richard Childress Racing owns No. 3 this season. The team has not announced its plans.
WAIT ON INDUCTION: Earnhardt will have to wait the standard five years to appear on the International Motorsports Hall of Fame ballot. The board of directors agreed to keep the waiting period despite calls from fans urging it be waived.
REMEMBRANCES: Officials at North Carolina Speedway have not decided how to honor Earnhardt before Sunday's race. ... About 3,500 people attended a 60-minute service for Earnhardt at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and about 4,000 attended a memorial at the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, next to Talladega Superspeedway.