Sunday, May 22, 2022

NASCAR Throwback Weekend: All the classic paint schemes coming back to life at Darlington

As NASCAR’s original speedway and the site of the annual Southern 500, Darlington Raceway is central to the history and tradition of stock car racing. And every year since 2015, Darlington has been the site of an annual full-speed celebration of the sport’s history: Throwback Weekend.

For Sunday at Darlington, race teams all across the garage area have opened the vault and gone back in time to chose a special throwback paint scheme for the Goodyear 400. Whatever way drivers and teams choose to honor the past — a notable scheme in team history, a nod to racers who have come before them, or a near and dear car from their own lives as racers — Throwback Weekend has quickly become one of the most anticipated of the entire NASCAR season and a favorite among fans and competitors alike.

Here is a complete look at all of the throwback paint schemes that will be run in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at Darlington:

Trackhouse Racing’s throwbacks are based on the Coca-Cola paint schemes driven by Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. when the two raced against each other for the first time in a 1998 exhibition race in Japan. Ross Chastain’s No. 1 is based off the car driven by Earnhardt Jr., while Daniel Suarez’s No. 99 is based off Earnhardt Sr.’s car.

Austin Cindric’s car will use the same base paint scheme as the one used on Rusty Wallace’s car during his final season in 2005. Wallace closed out his Hall of Fame career by qualifying for the Chase for the Nextel Cup and finishing eighth in points with eight top five and 17 top 10 finishes.

Kevin Harvick’s throwback is based on the “Chasing a Cure” Rheem paint schemes that were raced in October of both 2011 and 2012. Darlington will mark Rheem’s 500th race as a NASCAR sponsor.

Kyle Larson’s paint scheme is a throwback to the Hendrick-sponsored Pontiac driven by Tim Richmond in the 1984 Busch Grand National Series. Richmond would later be hired to drive for Hendrick in 1986, winning seven races that season and two more before his career and life were cut short by AIDS.

RFK Racing’s cars driven by Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher will be throwbacks to the cars driven by Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth during the 2004 season. Keselowski’s car is based on the Viagra Ford Martin won with at Dover, while Buescher’s is based on the DeWalt Ford Kenseth drove to victory at Rockingham and Las Vegas.

Corey LaJoie is throwing back to the No. 777 Plymouth Belvedere that was driven by country music star Marty Robbins during his racing career. Robbins, who had 35 career Cup Series starts, drove this car at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway when moonlighting as a racer.

Chase Elliott’s paint scheme is a throwback to the NAPA Auto Parts Ford driven by longtime independent racer Jimmy Means during the 1993 Cup Series season. Means made the final 18 starts of his Cup career that season, scoring a best finish of 16th at Bristol.

Denny Hamlin’s throwback is to his primary paint scheme from the 2016 season, in which he scored his first of three Daytona 500 victories. Hamlin beat Martin Truex Jr. to the line by .010 seconds, the closest finish in Daytona 500 history.

Chase Briscoe is throwing back to the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Oldsmobile that Tony Stewart drove to a sixth-place finish in the 2001 Indianapolis 500. Stewart completed the Indy-Charlotte double that year, flying to Charlotte and finishing third in the Coca-Cola 600 immediately after the Indy 500.

Rick Ware Racing’s throwbacks encompass both the distant and relatively recent past. J.J. Yeley’s No. 15 is based on the 5-Hour Energy Toyota that Clint Bowyer drove for Michael Waltrip Racing from 2012 to 2015. Cody Ware’s No. 51 is based on the Burnham Boilers Chevrolet Hall of Famer Mike Stefanik drove in the Busch North Series in the 1990s.

Kyle Busch’s throwback is to the M&M’s Pontiac that was driven by Ernie Irvan at Las Vegas in 1998. The race marked M&M’s very first as a primary sponsor in NASCAR before the brand went on a long run as a full-time sponsor that will end at the conclusion of 2022.

Christopher Bell’s paint scheme is a throwback to the SiriusXM paint scheme that he drove during his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship-winning season in 2017. Bell drove the SiriusXM colors five times that season, scoring two wins in them at Pocono and New Hampshire.

Harrison Burton’s scheme is a throwback to the Exide Batteries Ford that his father Jeff Burton drove during the 2000 season. The elder Burton won four times, including the Pepsi 400 at Daytona and a New Hampshire race in which he led every lap, en route to a career-best third in points. He also scored a sixth-place finish at Charlotte the day before his son Harrison was born.

Joey Logano is throwing back to his very own quarter midget race car from when he started racing. Logano drove this car as a child in the late-1990s growing up in Middletown, Connecticut.

Bubba Wallace’s MoneyLion Toyota uses the same base scheme as the one Wallace drove while racing late models in 2008. Driving the No, 76, that year saw Wallace become the youngest driver ever to win at Franklin County Speedway in Virginia.

William Byron’s paint scheme marks the return of the “Fire and Flames” paint scheme that Jeff Gordon drove throughout the 2000s. This particular version is based on the 2007 season, where Gordon matched and then surpassed longtime rival Dale Earnhardt on NASCAR’s all-time wins list.

Cole Custer’s No. 41 is a throwback to the No. 0 NetZero Pontiac that was fielded by Haas CNC Racing during the 2003 season. The team started the year with driver Jack Sprague, then replaced him with the late Jason Leffler — a childhood hero of Custer’s.

Both of Petty GMS’ cars are throwbacks to the cars that Petty Enterprises fielded in the very first Daytona 500 in 1959. Ty Dillon’s No. 42 is the same one that won the race with Lee Petty, while Erik Jones’ No. 43 qualified sixth with Richard Petty before an early engine failure.

Kurt Busch’s throwback is to the McDonald’s Ford Thunderbird that was driven by Bill Elliott during the 1996 season. Elliott’s McDonald’s cars were very well-known, but the 1996 season was not his best as he missed seven races due to injuries suffered in a crash at Talladega.

Alex Bowman’s base paint scheme is the same one as the Valvoline Ford Thunderbird driven by Mark Martin from 1992 to 1995. The car was arguably the most iconic driven by Martin in the 1990s, as he won 13 times in it and scored a second-place finish in points in 1994.

B.J. McLeod’s throwback will be a tribute to the paint scheme that McLeod drove in super late model competition at Orlando Speed World in 2004. McLeod won a feature race at the speedway with this paint scheme.

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