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)

COTA Truck race results: Zane Smith wins

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Reigning series champion Zane Smith won Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

The victory is Smith’s second of this year.

MORE: COTA Truck race results

MORE: Truck points after COTA

Kyle Busch finished second and was followed by Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum and Ross Chastain.

The key moment came when Parker Kligerman‘s truck came to a stop on the frontstretch at Lap 28. Smith, running second, made it to pit road before it was closed. Busch, who was leading, had already passed pit road entrance.

Smith gained the lead with the move, while Busch had to pit under the caution and restarted 16th. Smith was able to build a lead and beat Busch by 5.4 seconds.

Stage 1 winner: Christian Eckes

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Ty Majeski’s third-place finish is his best of the season. … Tyler Ankrum’s fourth-place finish is his best of the year. … Corey Heim has finished sixth two races in a row. … Rookie Nick Sanchez finished seventh, giving him back-to-back top 10s.

Who had a bad race: Parker Kligerman was running third when electrical issues forced him to stop on track just after the end of the second stage. … After winning the first stage, Christian Eckes had mechanical issues and had to pit for repairs, costing him several laps.

Notable: Front Row Motorsports has won the Truck COTA race all three years. Todd Gilliland won the race in 2021 and Zane Smith has won it the past two years.

Next: The series races April 1 at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
COTA winner Zane Smith’s truck catches fire after he did his burnout on the frontstretch. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

William Byron wins Cup pole at COTA


William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.

Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly cloudy with a high of 80 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


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North Wilkesboro’s racing surface will prove challenging to drivers 

NASCAR Power Rankings: Christopher Bell is new No. 1