It’s finally here.
This year’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway can be seen Sunday on NBC (6 pm ET) and online at NBCSports.com or on the NBC Sports app . That’s a showcase 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 for all four of its entries with Matt Kenseth‘s “Tide Ride” the most recent.
Here’s a rundown of the retro paint schemes announced to date. Which is your favorite?
Jamie McMurray – The No. 1 Chevrolet will feature a McDonald’s paint scheme used for four races in 1997 by Bill Elliott.
Brad Keselowski – The No. 2 Ford will feature the design of the original Miller Lite can that was produced before 1974.
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.
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.
Kasey Kahne – The No. 5 Chevrolet will look similar to the No. 44 car that Terry Labonte drove for Billy Hagan in 1982.
Trevor Bayne – No 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.
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.
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.
Denny Hamlin – Joe Gibbs racing’s No. 11 car will honor the scheme used in 1984 by Darrell Waltrip when he won the TranSouth 500 at Darlington.
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.
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.
Clint Bowyer – The No. 15 will pay tribute to 2017 Hall of fame inductee Benny Parsons. The car will have the red paint scheme and number style that Parsons had on his No. 72 car when he won the Sprint Cup title in 1973. Parsons, who died in 2007, had 21 Sprint Cup wins and enjoyed a long career as a NASCAR analyst on TV.
Greg Biffle – The second car to recognize the career of Alan Kulwicki, Biffle’s car will actually be sponsored by Hooters, unlike Regan Smith’s.
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.
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.
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.
Matt Kenseth – While Kenseth won’t share any of the three numbers that came before him, the No. 20 car will look pretty close to the Tide-sponsored cars driven by Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and Ricky Craven, who all won in their own versions of the “Tide Ride.” The Southern 500 will be Tide’s first race a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series since 2006.
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.
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.
David Ragan – The No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing will be sponsored by Dr. Pepper and feature the soft drink’s classic “I’m a Pepper” slogan.
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.
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.
Ryan Newman – Just like teammate Austin Dillon, Newman’s paint scheme will evoke RCR’s first win in 1983 with Ricky Rudd.
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.
Chris Buescher – The No. 34 will have the color scheme used by the first Love’s Travel Stop in Amarillo, Texas, in 1981.
Landon Cassill – The No. 38 Ford will pay tribute to the career of J.D. McDuffie, who holds the record for most Sprint Cup starts without a win with 653 races.
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.
Kyle Larson – The No. 42 will share the paint scheme of the first Target sponsored IndyCar for Chip Ganassi Racing. That car was driven by Eddie Cheever in 1990, three years before Larson was born.
Aric Almirola – The No. 43 Ford will carry the colors used by Richard Petty when he won his sixth Daytona 500 in 1979.
Michael Annett – The No. 46 will have the logo of its sponsor, Pilot Flying J, from the 1970s on it.
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.
Jimmie Johnson – The No. 48 Chevrolet will have a Lowes’ paint scheme that was used in 1979 when David Pearson drove a car owned by Rod Osterland. The catch is Pearson was driving in substitution of an injured Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Pearson drove the scheme to a second-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
Martin Truex Jr. – The Furniture Row Racing Toyota will commemorate the 100th anniversary of sponsor Auto-Owners Insurance.
Matt DiBenedetto – The No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing will be sponsored by Orange Crush and will have the soft drink’s 1970s design.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon will drive the car that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was to have raced before a concussion sidelined him. This is Earnhardt’s favorite paint scheme. The No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet will look like the “Gray Ghost,” the car driven by Buddy Baker in 1979 and 1980.
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.