Retro Rundown 2016: Throwback paint schemes for the Southern 500

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It’s only a month away.

That’s how long we have to wait for this year’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, which can be seen Sept. 4 on NBC. It’s also how long we have to wait to see the second batch of retro paint schemes dedicated to honoring the sport’s history after last season’s successful venture into nostalgia.

What makes it even better this time around is that the entire field will likely be in on the fun. Last season, Joe Gibbs Racing stood out as one of the few teams not to participate. The team has already announced paint schemes for Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.

The latest to be revealed were for Tony Stewart and Ryan Blaney.

Here’s a rundown of the 24 retro paint schemes announced to date. Which is your favorite?

Brad Keselowski – The No. 2 Ford will feature the design of the original Miller Lite can that was produced before 1974.

Keselowski

Austin Dillon – Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet will bare the paint scheme driven by Ricky Rudd in 1983 when he earned Richard Childress Racing’s first Sprint Cup win at Riverside International Raceway.

Austin Dillon

Kevin Harvick – The No. 4 Chevrolet will look just like the Busch-sponsored car driven by Cale Yarborough during the 1979-1980 Sprint Cup seasons. Yarborough earned 10 of his 83 careers win during that span.

Harvick

 

Trevor BayneNo matter what anyone tells you, the 1990s were awesome and so were Mark Martin‘s paint schemes. For the second year in a row, Bayne’s No. 6 Ford will have a ’90s flavor to it. After bringing back memories of Martin’s career-best season in 1998 last year, Bayne’s car will have the paint scheme Martin used in the 1996 and 1997 seasons.

Trevor Bayne

Regan Smith – The “Underbird” will fly again. Sort of. Smith’s No.7 Chevrolet, instead of a Ford Thunderbird, will have the paint scheme, sans Hooters sponsorship, that was driven by the late Alan Kulwicki. The paint scheme was on track for 59 Sprint Cup races, including his 1992 championship campaign.

Regan Smith

 

Danica Patrick – Patrick’s sponsor, Nature’s Bakery, hasn’t been around very long. So there’s not a 20-year-old paint scheme for Stewart-Haas Racing to blow the dust off of. But Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet still has a late 70s/early 80s vibe to it.

Danica

Casey Mears – The No. 13 Geico Chevrolet will pay tribute to the career and legacy of Smokey Yunick. The paint scheme and number were used by drivers Mario Andretti and Curtis Turner in 1966 and 1967 when they raced for Yunick. Turner sat on the pole for the 1967 Daytona 500 with this paint scheme.

Casey Mears

Tony Stewart – For his final Southern 500, “Smoke” will pay tribute to Bobby Allison, who drove this Coca-Cola paint scheme to Southern 500 wins in 1971 and 1972. Stewart has been a member of the “Coca-Cola Family” his entire Sprint Cup career.

Tony Stewart

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Darrell Waltrip won a lot of races in his Sprint Cup career, including five at Darlington. But the first of his 84 wins came in the No. 17 in 1975 at Nashville Speedway. The paint scheme Waltrip carried in that race will be resurrected by Stenhouse, 41 years later.

Stenhouse

Kyle Busch – Just days after Matt Kenseth won at Dover International Speedway to give Joe Gibbs Racing its 135th Sprint Cup win (tying it for third all time with Roush Fenway Racing) the team showed off Busch’s paint scheme. The No. 18 will look like it did when it was driven by Dale Jarrett in 1993, the year he won JGR’s first Cup race in the Daytona 500.

Kyle Busch

Carl Edwards – The No. 19 Arris Toyota will have the paint scheme that was used by Tony Stewart when he drove the No. 20 Home Depot car for Joe Gibbs Racing from 1999-2008.

Carl Edwards

Ryan Blaney – The No. 21 will be inspired by the paint scheme used by David Pearson in 1976 when he won the unofficial triple crown of NASCAR by winning the Daytona 500, World 600 and the Southern 500.

Ryan Blaney

Joey Logano – The No. 22 Ford will pay tribute to the first paint scheme used on a car sponsored by Shell. The look was used by Bobby Labonte on his No. 44 Pontiac in the Xfinity Series in 1998. Labonte drove the car to a win at Darlington that season.

Joey Logano

David Ragan – The No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing will be sponsored by Dr. Pepper and feature the soft drinks classic “I’m a Pepper” slogan.

David Ragan

Chase Elliott – The No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet will have a paint scheme inspired by the look of NAPA’s old delivery trucks from the 1960s. NAPA’s original colors were yellow and black before transitioning to yellow and blue.

Chase Elliott

Paul Menard – The No. 27, which will be sponsored by Valvoline, will use the original paint scheme that was intended to be used by Al Unser Jr. in the 1993 Daytona 500. Unser crashed in his qualifying race and went to a backup car that had a different paint scheme.

CoeALTyWEAAV1GW

Ryan Newman – Just like teammate Austin Dillon, Newman’s paint scheme will evoke RCR’s first win in 1983 with Ricky Rudd.

Ryan Newman

Jeffrey Earnhardt The grandson of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. will drive a paint scheme based on the seven-time champion’s time being sponsored by Wrangler in the 1980s.

jeffrey earnhardt throwback paint scheme at Darlington

 

Kurt Busch – Last year, Busch’s No. 41 car used the paint scheme that was first used in the Sprint Cup Series by Gene Haas in 2002. This season, Busch’s car will honor the VF-1, the first CNC machine built by Haas Automation in 1988.

Kurt Busch 3

Aric Almirola – The No. 43 Ford will carry the colors used by Richard Petty when he won his sixth Daytona 500 in 1979.

Aric Almirola

AJ Allmendinger –  It’s a bit of a deep cut, but Allmendinger’s car is still a love letter to NASCAR history. The No. 47 will look just like it did in during the 1977 Sprint Cup Season when it was driven by 1975 Rookie of the Year Bruce Hill. The Kansas native never won a Sprint Cup race, but he earned one of his three career top-five finishes at Darlington Raceway in 1975.

Allmendinger

Matt DiBenedetto – The No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing will be sponsored by Orange Crush and will have the soft drink’s 1970s design.

DiBenedetto

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Earnhardt will drive his favorite paint scheme in the history of the sport. His No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet will look like the “Gray Ghost,” the car driven by Buddy Baker in 1979 and 1980.

Dale Jr

 

Michael McDowell – The No. 95 team of Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing, which is part of a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, will honor Childress with a paint scheme based off a car he raced in the 1970s.

Michael McDowell

Team Penske looks to extend Talladega dominance amid 2020 woes

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If there’s one thing Talladega Superspeedway is known for, it’s chaos.

But for as much chaos as the 2.66-mile track can provide, Talladega has another quality it produces: consistency in Victory Lane.

In the 2010s and up through the June Cup race, the consistency has been produced by Team Penske.

Since May 2012, Penske drivers have won nine of 17 races. Brad Keselowski has four of his five Talladega wins, Joey Logano has three and Ryan Blaney has won each of the last two races by .007 seconds.

The other eight races were won by Roush Fenway Racing (two wins), Hendrick Motorsports (two), Front Row Motorsports (one), Chip Ganassi Racing (one), Stewart-Haas Racing (one) and Joe Gibbs Racing (one).

When it comes to races like this weekend’s playoff event (2 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC), one would expect even more chaos and less consistency among winners.

You’d be wrong on the latter.

Penske’s three drivers have combined to win five of the last six Talladega playoff races. The winner of the sixth race was Aric Almirola in the 2018 playoff race.

Last week Keselowski observed how races at superspeedways have “ebbs and flows” with them currently resembling “a MAVTV demo derby just a little faster.”

On Thursday, the 2012 Cup champion credited Team Penske having a “great” driver lineup with its ability to win in a form of racing that’s constantly evolving.

“I think we have the strongest driver lineup in Cup right now,” Keselowski said. “I know that’s probably arguable and it’s completely subjective. That’s played to our favorite tracks like the plate tracks and we’re going to continue to try and leverage it.”

While Blaney has enjoyed recent success at Talladega with his two victories, Keselowski looks to re-establish his winning ways at the track he has five victories, the most among active drivers.

After winning the 2017 playoff race, he has five consecutive finishes of 13th or worse, including two DNFs for wrecks.

“It’s been up and down for me,” Keselowski said. “The last few races have probably been down. Last fall I thought we were going to win the race with two or three (laps) to go. We were making the pass for the lead and the next thing I know we’re all wrecked. It’s a love-hate affair with that track for sure and hopefully we’ll love it. I feel like we’re due for a good finish there.”

Keselowski enters Sunday’s race after miserable outings in the last two playoff races. He finished 34th at Bristol (power steering problems) and 13th at Las Vegas.

Talladega could be the relief Keselowski’s teammates are looking for as well.

Blaney, who was eliminated from the playoffs after the Round of 16, hasn’t had a top-five finish in the last nine races. Logano, while he has two top fives in the playoffs (third at Darlington and Richmond), hasn’t won since the March race at Phoenix. That was the last race before the COVID-19 shutdown.

Keselowski said “it is a bit strange” that Team Penske can view Talladega as a track where it can turn its season around.

“We haven’t been where we want to be on the mile-and-a-halfs, there’s no doubt about that,” Keselowski said. “The mile-and-a-halfs and road courses have been a weak spot for us. The superspeedways and short tracks have been a strong spot for us. Thankfully we have the superspeedway this weekend and couple of short tracks coming up in the next round (Martinsville).

“We need to kind of maximize out strengths and minimize our weaknesses. This weekend is certainly looking like a strength for us. We have high expectations.”

Kaz Grala subs for Natalie Decker in Talladega Truck race

Kaz Grala
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Natalie Decker has not been medically cleared to compete in Saturday’s Truck Series race at Talladega (1 p.m. ET on FS1) and will be replaced by Kaz Grala in Niece Motorsports’ No. 44 Chevrolet the team announced Thursday.

Decker withdrew from last weekend’s race at Las Vegas after she was not medically cleared shortly before the race. She was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker tweeted Saturday that she was flying home where “more tests (would be) run so they can further evaluate and diagnose.”

No further details about Decker’s condition have been announced.

“We are thankful that Kaz is able to fill in for Natalie this weekend and appreciate him working with our team,” team general manager Cody Efaw said in a press release. “We wish Natalie the best as she works to be as healthy as possible to return to racing.”

Grala will make his first Truck Series start since 2017. He has 32 career starts in the series, including one win in the 2017 season-opening race at Daytona.

He drove in Austin Dillon’s place earlier this year in the Cup race on the Daytona road course after Dillon tested positive for COVID-19.

“My thoughts will be with Natalie this weekend as I wish her a quick recovery,” Grala said in a press release. “I know she loves the restrictor-plate races, so I feel bad that she’ll have to miss this one, but I hope I can give her something to cheer for on Saturday. 

“It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a Truck, but the superspeedway races have been very good to me in the past, so I’m really hoping to be able to go grab a win for Niece Motorsports at Talladega.”

FanVision closes due to impact of COVID-19 pandemic

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FanVision Entertainment, the company that produces video devices used by race fans at NASCAR events, has ceased operations due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news was announced in a statement from Racing Electronics, the company which sold and supported FanVision devices at NASCAR tracks through a license with FanVision Entertainment.

Racing Electronics, which is owned by NASCAR, can no longer sell or support the devices.

“We recognize this news will be met with disappointment by motorsports fans across the country who utilized FanVision’s products as part of their at-track experience,” Racing Electronics president Chad Willis said in a statement.

“To help fans and industry members transition to Racing Electronics products, we are working with existing FanVision device owners to solve their race day needs. When Racing Electronics returns to the track, fans and industry members will have access to all the sounds that make racing so special.”

RCR, Hendrick to collaborate on Chevy engine

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Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing will team up on research and development of a common Chevrolet engine after the conclusion of the 2020 season, the teams announced Thursday.

The two organizations will continue to function independently as they “fully leverage the knowledge and intellectual property of our two successful programs to advance Chevrolet’s engine for NASCAR,” they said in a joint statement.

Engines produced by Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing (via ECR Engines) have earned a combined 20 Cup titles and the two teams have totaled 369 Cup wins.

Jeff Andrews, the new executive vice president at Hendrick Motorsports, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” Thursday that discussions about the venture between his team and RCR began two years ago.

“The day was going to come when we really needed to figure out how to get these two programs together,” Andrews said. “A tremendous amount of talent, people and a tremendous amount of equipment and resources between the two programs. How could we do this? How could we take the longstanding heritage between these two companies and get that together to start working on an alliance that truly would produce the ultimate powertrain for Chevrolet NASCAR?”

RCR is headquartered in Welcome, North Carolina and Hendrick’s campus is in Concord, North Carolina.

“I think when you step back and look at it, ultimately you have to get to a point to where, when you have these resources and you have these people, we have to do what’s best for Chevrolet, first and foremost, to continue to push their performance and get them back to the front of the field and get them wins and championships,” Andrews said. “Really, we work together in a very similar fashion. We started two years ago on the aerodynamic side with our groups working very close together and we’re kind of taking somewhat of that template and applying to the engine side in starting this joint alliance.”

Chevrolet last won a Cup title in 2016 when Jimmie Johnson earned his record-tying seventh championship. Since then, Chevy has not had a car reach the championship four.

The Cup Series is in the middle of the Round of 12. The series races Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Of the 12 cars that remain, four are Chevrolets: Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch.

Chevrolet cars have won six times through 30 races this season. That’s compared to seven wins in all of 2019, four in 2018 and and 10 in 2017.