NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 10 Cup paint schemes of all time


NASCAR’s two-week break ends this weekend at Watkins Glen International with the Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series each racing on the road course.

But before the engines fire this weekend, the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings focuses on the top paint schemes in Cup history. The focus is on paint schemes that were on a car for more than a special occasion, so there are no paint schemes from the All-Star Race or one-off movie-themed cars or the like.

Let the debate begin …

NASCAR Power Rankings of best Cup paint schemes in series history

1. Bobby Allison’s 1988 Miller High Life car

The gold on the car makes it stand out over others. The car pictured is what Allison drove to his 1988 Daytona 500 victory, his third victory in that race. The win was the 84th and final victory in the NASCAR Hall of Famer’s career.

Daytona 500
(Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)


2. Buddy Baker’s Gray Ghost 

Buddy Baker won the 1980 Daytona 500, in his 18th start, driving the Harry Ranier Oldsmobile. The car was better known as the Gray Ghost.

The car was nicknamed the Gray Ghost because its colors allowed it to blend in with the track, as the story goes. Driver complaints led NASCAR to have Baker’s team put reflective decals on the car so it was easier to see after that Daytona 500 win

“Silver and black. Chrome numbers. It doesn’t get any cooler than that,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in 2016 on his Dale Jr. Download.

Buddy Baker
(Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)


3. Mark Martin’s Valvoline car  

There were various iterations of this car but this car, pictured in 1995, was one that struck me the most for its clean lines and color scheme.

Mark Martin
(Getty Images)

4. Davey Allison’s Havoline car   

The son of Bobby Allison drove this car to a second-place finish to his father in the 1988 Daytona 500. The car was owned by Harry Ranier.

Davey Allison - 1988 Daytona 500
(Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

5. Jeff Gordon’s Rainbow car    

Jeff Gordon drove the Rainbow car throughout the 1990s on the way to winning three of his four Cup titles. This picture shows the car in 1994 at Daytona International Speedway.

Jeff Gordon at Daytona 1994
(Photo by Dozier Mobley/Getty Images)


6. Richard Petty’s STP car    

For years, Richard Petty drove a Petty blue car but when STP became the sponsor, the company wanted its car Day-Glo red. They worked out a compromise. It has been the standard combination when STP has sponsored a Petty car since. The car pictured is from the early 1970s.

Car 43 Racing in Daytona 500
(Photo by Jonathan Blair/Corbis via Getty Images)


7. Rusty Wallace’s Midnight car   

Rusty Wallace drove the black-and-gold car he dubbed Midnight to 13 victories from 1992-94. When Wallace was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, part of his display included Midnight.

Rusty Wallace - NASCAR Michigan 1994 Winner
(Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)


8. Dale Earnhardt’s Wrangler car    

Before he drove the black No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, Dale Earnhardt drove a blue-and-yellow car for Childress. Earnhardt joined the team during the 1981 season.

Dale Earnhardt - NASCAR Childress 1981
(Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)


9. Kyle Petty’s Mello Yello car    

This car was not hard to find on traffic. Kyle Petty is shown driving it in 1994 at Sonoma Raceway.

1994 Save Mart Supermarkets 300
(Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

10. Harry Gant’s Skoal Bandit car 

Harry Gant is forever linked with his paint scheme. This photo shows him on the way to winning at Martinsville Speedway in September 1991. It was his fourth consecutive win in a row.

Harry Gant and Mark Martin
(Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)