Retro Rundown 2016: Your guide to the 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.

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. The team’s “Underbird” nickname will appear on the front bumper of the car.

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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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Josh Wise – The Motorsports Group secured last-minute sponsorship from Incredible Bank, leading the No. 30 car to look like the car driven by Dale Earnhardt Sr. in his second Sprint Cup start, the 1976 World 600 (now the Coke 600).

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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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Cole Whitt – The No. 98 for Premium Motorsports will champion the 1969 season of LeeRoy Yarbrough, who won seven races, including the triple crown of the Daytona 500, the World 600 and the Southern 500.

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10 coolest paint schemes from 2019

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With the year coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on what went down in 2019.

But this isn’t some serious retrospective on the events witnessed in NASCAR over the last 12 months.

Nope, we’re going to talk about paint schemes.

That’s it.

Without further ado, here are 10 of the coolest paint schemes that graced the track this year.

 

Corey LaJoie drives his Scooby-Doo car at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Corey LaJoie’s No. 32 Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine Ford

For the second year in a row, Go Fas Racing and sponsor CorvetteParts.net expressed their inner child for the Martinsville Cup race ahead of Halloween.

Following their “Peanuts” car in 2018, LaJoie’s car was transformed into the Mystery Machine from the Scooby-Doo cartoons.

It definitely echoes the Cartoon Network cars that competed in the 1990s and we don’t have a problem with that.

 

 

 

(Photo by Matthew Bolt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kurt Busch‘s No. 1 Star Nursery Chevrolet

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver didn’t wait until the Southern 500 to bring a throwback scheme to the track.

Busch had Star Nursery on his car for the spring race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A local Las Vegas sponsor, the company backed Busch when he won the 1999 Southwest Tour championship.

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

William Byron‘s No. 24 City Chevrolet … Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports dropped the hammer with Byron’s Southern 500 scheme, almost a direct copy of a car Cole Trickle drove in the movie Days of Thunder, which Hendrick Motorsports advised on the making of.

City Chevrolet is a real car dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina, that Rick Hendrick owns.

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Michael Annett‘s No. 1 Baby Ruth Chevrolet

JR Motorsports trotted out this tribute to Jeff Gordon’s 1992 Xfinity Series car at Darlington.

Having both the right number and the sponsor to complete the ensemble made it the MVP of the Xfinity Series’ portion of the throwback weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Alex Bowman‘s No. 88 Nationwide Patriotic Chevrolet

The Hendrick Motorsports driver arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway with this scheme for the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

Unlike the typical red, white and blue schemes for the Memorial Day race, Bowman’s had a more subtle approach and came away with a very slick look.

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bubba Wallace‘s No. 43 Air Force P-40 Warhawk Chevrolet

Richard Petty Motorsports unleashed this scheme at the Bristol night race.

A tribute to World War II fighter planes, we can imagine being startled by seeing this car approaching in the rear-view mirror.

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Lyle Setter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Miller Lite Holiday Knitwear Ford

Sure, this paint scheme was raced in Arizona in the middle of November.

But we’re not going to fault the timing of this holiday-themed car.

While it would be easy call this an “ugly Christmas sweater” design, there’s nothing ugly about it.

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick‘s No. 4 Busch Beer Gen X Ford

The folks at Busch Beer proved it’s possible to have a sequel paint scheme … or would that be a prequel?

Harvick drove this Gen X-themed scheme at Pocono in July. Two months earlier, Harvick competed in the All-Star Race with a Millennial paint scheme.

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Ben Rhodes‘ No. 99 Havoline Ford

Rhodes and ThorSport Racing provided a blast from the past with this sponsor and scheme in the Truck Series.

Havoline made its return as a NASCAR sponsor for the first time since 2008. It was on Rhodes truck for eight races.

 

 

 

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Harvick Beer Ford

Using the excuse that it was tired of giving free promotion to Kyle and Kurt Busch, Busch Beer turned the No. 4 car into the “Harvick Beer” car for the playoff race at Dover International Speedway.

For anyone who has played a NASCAR video game or collected diecasts, it’s a reminder of the kid friendly cars that replaced beer names with the names of the driver.

 

 

What was your favorite paint scheme this season? Let us know in the comments.

Friday 5: Could Jimmie Johnson score Most Popular Driver award in 2020?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It would be easy for some to expect that Chase Elliott’s second consecutive NMPA Most Popular Driver award marks the early stages of a streak that could rival, if not top, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s record run of 15 consecutive titles.

But that would be overlooking some challenges Elliott will face.

One could come from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, who said 2020 will be his last full-time Cup season.

That gives him a final chance to win one of the few honors he’s never captured in his NASCAR career.

Johnson is the only seven-time champion not to win the Most Popular Driver award. Dale Earnhardt was awarded the honor posthumously in 2001. Richard Petty won it eight times, the last time in 1978.

If he couldn’t win an eighth championship, would there be a better sendoff for Johnson than to win the sport’s most popular driver award?

“There’s no award that Jimmie could or will ever win that he doesn’t deserve,” Elliott said Thursday night after the NASCAR Awards show at the Music City Center. “Whatever next year brings, I’m looking forward to spending it with him. It’s been an honor to be his teammate. If he gets the (most popular driver) honor next year, that’s great and I’ll be happy for him. There’s no doubt that he deserves it. You do what he’s done in this sport, my opinion, you can do whatever you want. Pulling for him. I’d love to see him get eight (championships). I’d also love to get one.

“Don’t write him off yet because I think he’s pretty fired up, and I could see him having a big year next year.”

Johnson had his fans early in his career but his success turned many off, who tired of the Californian winning so often.

Things changed before the 2016 championship race in Miami as Johnson prepared to go for his record-tying seventh title. He saw it as he went around the track in a pickup during driver intros.

“I usually get flipped off a lot,” Johnson said that day after winning his seventh title. “They shoot me the bird everywhere we are, every state, everywhere we go. I kept looking up and seeing hands in the air thinking they’re shooting me the bird again. It was actually seven. All the way around the race track everyone was holding up seven, and it just gave me goosebumps, like wow, what an interesting shift in things.”

Another key challenger for Elliott for Most Popular Driver is two-time champion Kyle Busch.

Yes, that is correct.

Busch finished second to Elliott in the voting for Most Popular Driver award this year.

It once seemed impossible that Busch would finish in the top five in any type of most popular driver voting, but his Rowdy Nation fan base continues to grow.

If not next year for Busch, there’s the chance his fan base could carry him to a Most Popular Driver award sometime in the future.

Wouldn’t that be something?

 

2. Gut-wrenching pain

The most emotional moment of Thursday’s awards show came when Kyle Busch turned to wife Samantha to thank her for her support and also console her for the multiple failures this year in trying for a second child.

The couple went through in-vitro fertilization to have son Brexton in 2015. They used that experience to create the Bundle of Joy fund to provide money to infertile couples.

Samantha Busch announced in Nov. 2018 that she was pregnant with their second child only to suffer a miscarriage eight days later.

Busch’s voice quivered as he revealed on stage the pain he and his wife went through this year.

“I read quote recently that hit home for me,” Busch said to Samantha. “It said: “The strongest people are not those that show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others don’t know anything about. I’m right here with you knowing how hard it has been to go through multiple … yes multiple failed attempts of (in-vitro fertilization) this year.

“To walk around and try to face people week after week is difficult for me always knowing in the back of my mind how helpless I feel in life knowing how much I wanted to answer your prayers and be able to give you a gift of our baby girl.”

Busch said he had talked briefly to his wife ahead of time about revealing their loss publicly.

“I think there was a lot of naysay and negative discussions about what my emotions where and who I was in the playoffs and things like that,” Busch said after Thursday’s ceremony. “Not everybody knows exactly what is going on behind the scenes. Focus on your own.”

Busch said he never felt the devastation from the miscarriages impacted his performance.

“There were certain times, maybe, in meetings and things like that that I wouldn’t say it affected but it obviously came across my mind,” he said. “As far as it comes to the race track, when I put my helmet on, I feel like I can zero that out and do a really good job of focusing what the task at hand is.”

 

3. Nashville momentum?

The fan reception in Nashville has those in the sport encouraged that this week can build momentum to have a race at Fairgrounds Speedway.

Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, continues to lead the efforts for Speedway Motorsports to return NASCAR racing to the historic track.

But to do so, Caldwell and SMI officials will have to navigate through the city’s politics from the mayor’s office to the metro council and the fair board.

“We understand that it’s a new administration,” Caldwell told NBC Sports about Mayor John Cooper, who was sworn into office in late September. “We’re encouraged with the conversations that we’ve had with them and look forward to continuing those. I think we all see a bright future there.

“We all see that there’s a ton of potential at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway to create something that the city can be proud of, race fans can embrace and love, we can protect the heritage and celebrate that but also turn it into a venue that can be used 365 days a year.”

With NASCAR President Steve Phelps’ self-imposed deadline of April 1 to announce the 2021 Cup schedule, it would seem highly unlikely that negotiations can be completed in time for the track to be added to the schedule by then. Caldwell declined to speculate on timing “because we’re still in some conversations with the city to figure that out because there are a lot of moving pieces.”

Chase Elliott hopes this week shows city leaders the value of what a NASCAR race at Fairgrounds Speedway could be.

“Hopefully this sparks something in the city that allows the right people to make the right moves to come and race up here,” Elliott said, “because this place is too perfect not to.”

 

4. New cars for Bubba Wallace

Brian Moffitt, chief executive officer for Richard Petty Motorsports, says the team plans to have some sponsorship news in January. With the additional funding, the team will add new cars to its fleet for Bubba Wallace.

Even with the upcoming news, Moffitt said the team will still have some races available for sponsorships for the upcoming season.

Moffitt has high hopes entering the 2020 season.

“We’re going to be better right out of the gate this year in 2020,” Moffitt told NBC Sports. “We’re going to be right there with our partner (Richard Childress Racing) working with them a lot closer.”

Moffitt said the team anticipates having about half a dozen new cars by the first quarter of the season.

“We are going to have a lot newer equipment than we started (2019) with,” Moffitt said.

The challenge with that is that all the equipment will be outdated by the end of the season with the Next Gen car debuting in 2021.

“It’s still important in 2020,” Moffitt said. “We still have to perform for our partners. We want to be up there. It will help you prepare for 2021 coming out of the gate.”

Moffitt said the team also plans to add engineers and mechanics this season.

“We’re going to have some track engineers we haven’t had,” Moffitt said.

Wallace finished 28th in points last year, matching his finish in the points in 2018 as a rookie.

 

5. Pit road woes

Kurt Busch said a key area of improvement for his Chip Ganassi Racing team will be its performance on pit road. Busch said the team lost 120 spots on pit road.

“You can’t do that,” he said. “You’ve got to try to break even. You’re supposed to have a plus on pit road as far as spots gained. That’s where you’re going to see Gibbs … all those guys at Gibbs gained spots on pit road. We can’t lose that many spots at Ganassi on pit road.”

Losing spots on pit road can be related to when a crew chief calls in the driver to pit road, how quickly the driver goes down pit road without speeding and how well the pit crew performs.

“It just seemed like one pit road penalty led to a bad restart, a bad restart led to now the pit crew has to pick it up and get those spots back,” Busch said.

He noted how his season mirrored another Chevrolet driver.

“Our season was real similar to Alex Bowman,” said Busch, whose one win last season came in July at Kentucky. “Alex Bowman won at Chicago (in June) and then they faded and they were right with us in points all the way through the playoffs.

“Some of it was team. Some of it was me overdriving. Some of it was pit crew mistakes. The Camaro was a bit behind that we saw now at the end of the year with all those Toyotas in the championship 4.”

JGR teammates prank Kyle Busch with 30,000 pennies

Photo: Denny Hamlin
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. pranked Cup champion Kyle Busch by dumping 30,000 pennies on his bed as part of Truex’s payoff for losing a bet to Busch last month in New York City.

Hamlin, Truex, Busch and Kevin Harvick were all together in New York City promoting their appearance in the championship race in Miami. They were riding in traffic when Busch bet he could get to the hotel quicker by jogging. The other three took him up on it.

Busch arrived ahead of them and won.

Truex owed Busch $300 for losing the bet. Hamlin helped him come up with a creative way to pay it back.

Truex said on an Hamlin’s Instagram story: “It’s going to be fun to see his reaction. He’s going to be happy that he’s getting his money, I’m just not sure he’s going to be able to carry it home with him. We’ll see how this plays out.”

Busch didn’t know about the prank until Hamlin asked if he had seen Hamlin’s Instagram story.

“Took a look … and damn it,” Busch said after the banquet.

“I guess it’s in the pillow cases and everywhere. We’ll have to figure that out (how to remove them).

Asked if Truex was still good for paying off the bet that way, Busch joked: “He might get wrecked.”

 

 

What they wore on the red carpet …

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Before the show, drivers and their significant others walked the red carpet. Here’s a look at their outfits for the evening.

Kyle Busch, wife Samantha and son Brexton. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

Kyle and Katelyn Larson. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

 

Kevin and DeLana Harvick (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

Clint and Lorra Bowyer. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

Joey and Brittany Logano.(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

 

Kurt and Ashley Busch. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott and Kaylie Green. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and wife Amy. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

 

Martin Truex Jr. and Sherry Pollex. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

 

Aric and Janice Almirola. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

Daniel and Kenzie Hemric. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)