Retro Rundown 2016: Southern 500 throwback paint schemes

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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.

The latest to be revealed were for Chris Buescher, Kasey Kahne and Michael Annett.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

 

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Kasey Kahne – The No. 5 Chevrolet will look similar to the No. 44 car that Terry Labonte drove for Billy Hagan in 1982.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

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Chris Buescher – The No. 34 will have the color scheme used by the first Love’s Travel Stop in Amarillo, Texas, in 1981.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

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Michael Annett – The No. 46 will have the logo of its sponsor, Pilot Flying J, from the 1970s on it.

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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.

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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.

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Martin Truex Jr. – The Furniture Row Racing Toyota will commemorate the 100th anniversary of sponsor Auto-Owners Insurance.

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

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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.

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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.

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Stage points crucial at Las Vegas in Round of 12

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Former champion Brad Keselowski views Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN) as the “second most important” to win during the season after the championship race, “because these next two weeks are very difficult to prepare for.”

What’s so difficult about the two races after Las Vegas?

Two-thirds of the Round of 12 are made up of Talladega and the Charlotte Roval: a superspeedway known for its wild multi-car wrecks and a road course that can prove unpredictable.

“The biggest thing I’ve been thinking about is the playoff bonus points and winning in Vegas,” Keselowski said. “The best thing we can do to control our own destiny is to go win Vegas and then Talladega just becomes what it is. It’s the same thing with the Roval, so we’re hopeful to just kind of not have to worry about it that way by scoring a win. If we’re not able to do that, I’d like to get a few more playoff bonus points with stages for those races and that would help a bunch, but, certainly, this round presents a lot of challenges for us.”

If anyone knows the importance of winning early in a round, it’s Keselowski. His victory two weeks ago at Richmond benefitted him in the cutoff race a Bristol when power steering issues resulted in a 34th-place finish.

Chase Elliott, who has won at both Talladega and the Roval in previous seasons, has a similar view to Keselowski.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver said “we would be messing up to already be looking ahead to Talladega,” later adding, “the way I kind of look at it is I’m probably going to crash – I think that’s just the odds.”

Were everything to go right for a driver, they can earn up to 20 stage points in the first two stages of a race.

“So, I think everybody knows how important stages are and what they can mean, especially stage wins,” Elliott said. “Getting that extra bonus point is a huge thing, too. I think everybody knows that and that’s certainly a game that’s been played. I don’t know that it was as much played that very first year that we had (playoff and stage points), but really ever since that first year, I think it has been known and everybody really gets that. And it’s just gotten more and more aggressive.”

Focusing on Vegas is key for Elliott because it’s been a “super hit or miss” track for him. In seven career starts, he has two top fives and four finishes of 26th or worse.

“We’ve crashed a bunch out there (three DNFs) and had some really bad finishes,” Elliott said. “That would be a fantastic opportunity, I think, to have a solid day.”

Kurt Busch noted that you could arguably view Las Vegas as “standard” when it comes to pit strategy and racing. But Busch provided a reminder of what happened earlier this year at Texas Motor Speedway.

“A place like Vegas fits into a track like Texas, as well; where you can change just left side tires like we saw Austin Dillon do to win the Texas race earlier this year,” Busch said. “So, there are all the different strategies and different things playing out.”

The four drivers eliminated after the Round of 16 – William Byron, Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto – scored a combined six stage points. All of them were earned by Byron.

Busch observed that just because four teams have been eliminated from the playoffs doesn’t mean there’s four less cars in the field vying for points.

“There are two Hendrick cars now not in the playoffs, but they’re fast,” Busch said of Byron and Jimmie Johnson. “Same thing with (Joe) Gibbs (Racing). You’ve got the No. 20 car, Erik Jones, not in the playoffs but he’s fast. Those are points that those guys could take away from the contenders that are still left in the situations they’re in. So, you’ve just got to race hard and race smart. There are three ways to get points each and every weekend: Stage 1, Stage 2, and the finish of the race. And, that happens at all the race tracks.”

Of the 12 remaining drivers left in the playoffs, here’s how many stage points they earned in the first round.

Most Stage Points Earned in 2020 Playoffs:

Chase Elliott  – 35
Kevin Harvick – 33
Martin Truex Jr.  – 32
Kyle Busch  – 31
Alex Bowman – 29
Joey Logano  – 28
Denny Hamlin  – 26
Kurt Busch – 22
Austin Dillon – 22
Brad Keselowski – 21
Aric Almirola – 7
Clint Bowyer – 4

NASCAR fines Hendrick Motorsports $100,000

NASCAR fines
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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NASCAR has fined Hendrick Motorsports $100,000 for exceeding the amount of wind tunnel testing allowed this season.

NASCAR also announced that it had deducted 10 hours of wind tunnel testing from the organization for the 2020-21 amount allowed.

Hendrick Motorsports will not appeal the penalty. The team reported the violation to NASCAR.

The Cup Rule Book states in section 5.3.e that organizations are allocated 150 hours to be used on cars through Dec. 31, 2021 with a maximum usage of 70 hours in 2020 and a maximum usage of 90 hours in 2021. NASCAR states that testing hours are defined as billable hours reported by the wind tunnel to NASCAR. The minimum test period is four hours. Wind tunnel testing of Next Gen cars by individual organizations will not be permitted.

The L2 penalty comes with a fine of at least $100,000 and no more than $200,000.

NASCAR also announced two fines for lug nut violations last weekend at Bristol.

In the Xfinity Series, crew chief Bruce Schlicker was fined $5,000 for the No. 10 car of Ross Chastain having one lug nut not safe and secure after the race.

In the Truck Series, crew chief Kevin Bellicourt was fined $2,500 for the No. 19 truck of Derek Kraus having one lug nut not safe and secure after the race.

 

Carson Hocevar to run full Truck schedule in 2021

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Niece Motorsports has signed Carson Hocevar to run the full NASCAR Truck schedule in 2021, the team announced Thursday.

Hocevar, who turns 18 in January, has run five races for the team this season. His best finish this year is 12th at Dover. He’s scheduled to run at Martinsville on Oct. 30.

“I’m so excited to get the opportunity to race fulltime next year with the Niece Motorsports group,” said Hocevar in a statement. “We’ve had some really strong runs in the few starts that we’ve had this season and I am grateful for the chance to continue that next year. I’ve learned so much already this year and know that we will keep improving next year too.”

“Carson has really impressed us this season,” said team owner Al Niece in a statement. “He’s proven his talent – getting into the truck with no track time and really holding his own. We’re thrilled to have him with us fulltime next season and look forward to contending for wins together.”

TikTok to sponsor Ryan Vargas in six Xfinity races

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JD Motorsports
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TikTok is coming to NASCAR.

The popular video sharing app will break into the sport next month as a sponsor of Ryan Vargas in the Xfinity Series.

TikTok has partnered with JD Motorsports to sponsor the 20-year-old Vargas in the final six races of the season, beginning with the Oct. 3 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“TikTok has provided me with an incredible outlet to reach new fans and demographics through fun and creative content, and I’ve seen the highest growth in followers on TikTok over my other social channels,” Vargas said in a press release. “The opportunity to run the No. 6 TikTok Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the rest of the season is an absolute dream come true. Johnny Davis and the whole JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team took a chance on me last year and I’m excited to bring this amazing TikTok partnership their way. I wouldn’t want to make this partnership a reality anywhere else.”

Vargas has made three Xfinity Series starts this year. His best finish was 13th at Pocono.

The sponsor deal is part of TikTok’s Latinx Heritage Month programming.

A native of La Mirada, California, Vargas joined TikTok last year. He is a former member of NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity programming and a winner of the Wendell Scott Trailblazer award, which is given to a minority or female driver who displays exceptional on-track performance, sportsmanship, and community service.

The partnership and paint scheme were inspired by a concept scheme by graphic designer Ryan Pistana, a friend of Vargas’.

“Creators of all sizes and backgrounds show up to TikTok with their genuine, authentic selves,” Nick Tran, TikTok’s Head of Global Marketing, said in a press release. “Partnering with an iconic brand like NASCAR to sponsor Ryan Vargas on his racing journey is a way for us to continue to support, celebrate and elevate the diverse creators that make our TikTok community what it is today. Ryan is an incredible athlete, and we’re looking forward to cheering him on alongside the rest of the TikTok community!”

According to CNBC in August, TikTok has roughly 100 million monthly users, up nearly 800% from January 2018.

TikTok, a Chinese-owned company, has been in national headlines recently after President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app in the United States for national security reasons if it was not sold to an American company. On Sept. 19 he approved a deal for its U.S operations to be operated by Oracle and Walmart.