NASCAR teams prepare throwback cars for Southern 500 weekend

by Justin Nguyen

As the Monster Energy Cup and Xfinity Series gear up for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 and Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway, teams in both series will be sporting special liveries. Traditionally held on Labor Day weekend, the Southern 500 has featured throwback paint schemes to drivers and teams of years past since its return to that date in 2015.

Front Row Motorsports

Michael McDowell‘s #34 Front Row Motorsports machine pays homage to Xfinity team owner Jimmy Means, who formerly co-owned a team with current head Bob Jenkins. Then known as Means-Jenkins Motorsports, the partnership eventually separated as Jenkins formed FRM. The throwback is based on Means’ #52 car that he raced in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Throwback weekend at Darlington is one of my favorites of the whole year,” McDowell stated. “It’s fun to recreate some of the most well-known paint schemes throughout the history of our sport. Our owner, Bob Jenkins, has always admired Jimmy Means, and the Alka-Seltzer car is definitely a favorite of his. I’m really excited that we can honor their friendship with our No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford.”

The #36 of Matt Tifft is inspired by a dirt late model owned by his father and driven by David Hilliker.

“My dad has been such a huge influence throughout my career, and I couldn’t have gotten to this point without him,” Tifft said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to give him this kind of recognition and can’t wait to see his face when he sees the car in person for the first time.”

David Ragan, driving the #38, will honour the late three-time Cup champion David Pearson and his 1969 Holman-Moody car. That year, Pearson won eleven races en route to his third and final series title.

“When you think about Darlington, if you think about any driver you think about David Pearson right off the top,” Ragan noted. “He’s from South Carolina. He was dominant at that place and the throwback weekend is honoring all of those people that made a big impact in our sport.”

Hendrick Motorsports

Chase Elliott‘s #9 will honour his father Bill‘s 1981 Southern 500 car that he piloted to his maiden pole position. Bill, who would finish fourth in that race, was racing for a team owned by his own father George.

For his #24, William Byron will emulate the City Chevrolet car driven by Cole Trickle (portrayed by Tom Cruise) in the 1990 film Days of Thunder. To reveal the scheme, Byron and crew chief Chad Knaus recited lines from the film:

https://twitter.com/WilliamByron/status/1156957769309642752

Jimmie Johnson‘s #48 is a tribute to his off-road racing career in stadium and trophy trucks in the 1990s. Sporting a purple, orange, and white livery, the car is modeled after Johnson’s Chevrolet Thunder Sportside nicknamed “Butch” that he ran in the 1995 Baja 1000.

“The 1995 Chevy Thunder Trophy Truck is without a doubt the vehicle that shaped my driving style the most and made me the racer I am today,” Johnson said. “This truck will always be special to me and is a reminder to me. I appreciate Ally working with me to bring this paint scheme back to life in Darlington.”

The #88 of Alex Bowman will be based on that of former Hendrick driver Tim Richmond during the 1986 and 1987 seasons. The popular but controversial driver raced the two seasons with Folgers Coffee sponsorship during the final years of his Cup career, winning nine races and finishing third in points in 1986.

“I begged for it,” Bowman commented after it was revealed in June. “I begged for it last year and we didn’t do it, but I’m glad we could make it happen. It’s something I really wanted to do. If I was going to pick a throwback scheme, it’s exactly what I would pick.”

Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin‘s #11 Joe Gibbs Racing car is based on Darrell Waltrip‘s #11 Western Auto scheme in the early 1990s, paying tribute to the retiring Fox announcer.

Kyle Busch‘s #18 is modeled after Bobby Hillin Jr.‘s Snickers scheme, which he raced in 1990. Racing for Stavola Brothers Racing, Hillin finished nineteenth in points that year.

The #19 of Martin Truex Jr. is a tribute to his Busch Series (now Xfinity) days with Chance 2 Motorsports (the predecessor to Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s current JR Motorsports), with whom he won two series titles in 2004 and 2005. The titles would kickstart Truex’s Cup career with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 2006.

JGR revealed Erik Jones‘ #20 throwback in a video alongside Hamlin’s #18 Xfinity throwback. Jones’ scheme emulates his car from his first year in late models:

Sport Clips Darlington Throwback Schemes

BRB… checking out Erik Jones' and Denny Hamlin's Sport Clips Haircuts Darlington Raceway throwback schemes :)

Posted by Joe Gibbs Racing on Thursday, 8 August 2019

Richard Childress Racing

The Richard Childress Racing duo of Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric were the first to reveal their throwback liveries, doing so in early April. The team, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2019, will honour team owner Richard Childress and sponsor Caterpillar, Inc.

Dillon’s #3 is based on a black scheme run by Childress in the 1970s. Hemric’s #8, sporting a grey-and-orange colour palette, is inspired by Caterpillar’s equipment and the logo used for the company’s first six years starting in 1925.

Stewart-Haas Racing

In May, Stewart-Haas Racing revealed throwback paint schemes for three of their four drivers resembling cars driven by team co-owner Tony Stewart during his NASCAR career en route to his three Cup championships.

The first of Stewart’s three titles came in 2002, for which Aric Almirola‘s #10 is modeled after. Featuring a primarily orange base thanks to Home Depot’s sponsorship with black-and-white trim, Stewart won three races that year.

Stewart’s 2005 car is the inspiration for Daniel Suárez‘s #41. Unlike the 2002 car, the 2005 edition is all-orange with a black trim. The Haas logo will also be shaped like Home Depot’s. In 2005, Stewart scored five wins.

The 2011 season saw Stewart edge out Carl Edwards for the Cup title after winning five races in what is now the playoffs. After winning the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Stewart and Edwards tied in points, but Stewart’s five victories trumped Edwards’ one. The first driver’s championship for SHR, Stewart’s successor in the #14 Clint Bowyer will honour his boss with a rendition of the Office Depot car.

ICYMI: In honor of Tony Stewart’s selection to the #NASCARHOF class of 2020, his three championship cars will be…

Posted by Stewart-Haas Racing on Thursday, 23 May 2019

The lone non-Stewart car, the #4 of Kevin Harvick, is based on the Big Buck Hunter arcade game with sponsorship from Busch Beer.

Team Penske

The #2 of Team Penske‘s Brad Keselowski is based on Rusty Wallace‘s black-and-gold 1996 Southern 500 car. Wallace won five races and finished seventh in points that year. His team-mate Ryan Blaney follows Michael Waltrip‘s Pennzoil scheme used from 1991 to 1995.

Joey Logano‘s #12 Shell Pennzoil car is a throwback to fellow competitor and former Shell driver Harvick’s 2007 Daytona 500-winning car.

Penske ally Wood Brothers Racing will field the #21 for Paul Menard with a black-and-red scheme paying tribute to late founder Glen Wood. The scheme was revealed on 18 July as it would have been Wood’s 94th birthday:

Other teams

Landon Cassill and StarCom Racing will throw back to Sterling Marlin‘s #40 Coors Light car. To keep consistent with the brand, the StarCom Fiber logo on the #00 will resemble Coors Light’s. Marlin, who raced the #40 from 1998 to 2005, won his final Cup race at Darlington in 2002. The car will also run with support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation as Marlin is battling Parkinson’s disease.

Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson will run throwbacks based on the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and Ricky Craven‘s #41 car from 1995, respectively.

From the Roush Fenway Racing stable, Ryan Newman‘s #6 will honour former Roush #6 driver Mark Martin‘s 1993 Southern 500 car. Newman’s team-mate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will not use a throwback scheme, instead partnering with WGN America to promote the television series Dog’s Most Wanted.

Go Fas Racing‘s Corey LaJoie will drive a #32 throwback to Dale Jarrett‘s Nestle Crunch Busch Series car in the 1990s, while Darrell Wallace Jr. and Richard Petty Motorsports will honour the late Adam Petty‘s 1998 ARCA #45 car that he drove to victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Ryan Preece of JTG Daugherty Racing will honour Ron Bouchard, who also raced the #47 in the Cup Series in the 1980s, and Preece’s late grandfather Bob Judkins.

“This paint scheme means more to me than just running a throwback,” Preece stated. “We lost my grandfather in October, and this is the perfect way to honor someone that meant so much to me in my racing career. Not only in the Modified Series but persuading me to continue fighting for my dream of racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to run my first Cup race at Darlington Raceway, and I’m so grateful to Kroger for allowing us to race a paint scheme that Ron raced during his NASCAR tenure.”

The #51 Rick Ware Racing car, expected to be driven by B.J. McLeod, will resemble the Chicken Pit car from the 1983 movie Stroker Ace, while the #52 is based on Bill Blair‘s 1953 car and the #54 (driven by Garrett Smithley in his first race with the team) on Lennie Pond‘s 1970s car. Matt DiBenedetto‘s #95 is a tribute to Toyota’s IMSA GTO programme.

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