NASCAR Cup SeriesNASCAR Truck SeriesNASCAR Xfinity Series

NASCAR’s Darlington weekend sees eighth year of throwbacks

4 Mins read
Credit: Axalta Racing

Since 2015, NASCAR‘s annual trip to Darlington Raceway has become a time to honour the past with paint schemes resembling historic cars. All three national series—Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Truck—are on hand for the occasion.

As usual, the majority of the throwback liveries are modelled after past cars. Generally, drivers opt to pay tribute to those who formerly drove for their team or with their number, such as Hendrick MotorsportsWilliam Byron having his #24 painted like Hendrick Vice Chairman Jeff Gordon‘s #24 DuPont (predecessor to Byron’s sponsor Axalta) car from 2007. Gordon, one of NASCAR’s household names, is a popular choice for throwbacks this year as all three series features at least one Gordon throwback: while Byron fills the Cup slot, Ryan Vargas does so for Xfinity by emulating Gordon’s Pepsi car from his brief foray into Xfinity Series team ownership, while Lawless Alan‘s truck is a tribute to Gordon’s 2007 Department of Defense one-off scheme.

A sponsorship angle also applies in cases like Kurt Busch‘s McDonald’s machine resembling when the fast food chain sponsored Bill Elliott in 1996, while Elliott’s son Chase has his NAPA Auto Parts car designed after Jimmy Means‘ 1993 NAPA car. Kyle Busch, who is in his final season with funding from Mars, Incorporated, has a throwback based on M&M’s first foray into Cup sponsorship with Ernie Irvan in 1998. Xfinity driver Patrick Emerling, a Whelen Modified Tour veteran, went as far as to acquire sponsorship from the late Richie Evans‘ supporter B.R. Dewitt for his Evans Modified throwback.

Some tributes have no connection of any kind beyond a driver being a favourite of a Darlington competitor in their youth or having an attractive paint scheme. For example, Carson Hocevar‘s #42 Premier Security Chevrolet truck is painted to resemble Travis Pastrana‘s 2012 Boost Mobile-sponsored #99 Xfinity Toyota. The livery even includes the hidden #1 in front of the number, a “loophole” that Pastrana included to continue using his trademark #199 despite NASCAR only allowing double-digit numbers. Corey LaJoie‘s #7 also employs the three-number approach as a tribute to Marty Robbins‘ #777 by having the last two sevens much smaller than the first, enough of a difference to follow NASCAR rules.

Others go for a personal route like Bubba Wallace, Joey Logano, and Brandon Brown driving cars based on vehicles from their early careers, while Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell‘s throwbacks are respectively to their 2016 Daytona 500 and 2017 Truck Series championships. Keeping it in the family, Harrison Burton and his cousin Jeb are honouring their fathers Jeff and Ward‘s racing careers.

In a rather punny throwback, Truck driver Dean Thompson‘s #40 is a tribute to sprint car racer Dean Thompson, who has no relation save for the name.

As the Next Gen car has its door number shifted forwards, many had concerns surrounding how teams would implement throwbacks. For example, Brad Keselowski‘s scheme is based on 2004 Mark Martin Viagra scheme, which had its number located within a blue circle, but the initial reveal had the circle in its original location and therefore misaligned with the number; this was eventually rectified by RFK Racing.

There are some who do not plan to join in the fun like Richard Childress Racing‘s four entries. Boo.

Credit: Niece Motorsports/Lefty Designs

Cup Series

1Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamCoca-ColaDale Earnhardt Jr.’s 1998 Coca-Cola
2Austin CindricTeam PenskeLibmanRusty Wallace’s 2005
4Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingRheemHarvick’s 2011/12 Rheem
5Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsHendrickCars.comTim Richmond’s 1984
6Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingSociosMark Martin’s 2004 Viagra
7Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsStacking PenniesMarty Robbins’ 1964
9Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsNAPA Auto PartsJimmy Means’ 1993 NAPA
10Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingHaas AutomationGrandfather Sam Rodriguez’s sprint car
11Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingFedExHamlin’s 2016 Daytona 500 winner
14Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingMahindraTony Stewart’s 2001 Double Duty
15J.J. YeleyRick Ware RacingOllie’s Bargain OutletClint Bowyer’s 2012 5-hour Energy
17Chris BuescherRFK RacingSociosMatt Kenseth’s 2004 DeWalt
18Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingM&M’sErnie Irvan’s 1998 M&M’s
20Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingSiriusXMBell’s 2017 Truck Series championship winner
21Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingDEX ImagingJeff Burton’s 2000 Exide
22Joey LoganoTeam PenskeShellLogano’s quarter midget
23Bubba Wallace23XI RacingMoneyLionWallace’s 2008
24William ByronHendrick MotorsportsAxaltaJeff Gordon’s 2007 DuPont
41Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingHaas CNCJason Leffler’s 2004 Haas CNC
42Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsLee Petty’s 1959 Daytona 500
43Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsFocusFactorRichard Petty’s 1959 Daytona 500
45Kurt Busch23XI RacingMcDonald’sBill Elliott’s 1996 McDonald’s
48Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsAllyMark Martin’s 1993 Valvoline
51Cody WareRick Ware RacingNurtec ODT (rimegepant)Mike Stefanik’s 1998 Burnham Racing
78B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsMcLeod’s 2004 Super Late Model
99Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamCoca-ColaDale Earnhardt’s 1998 Coca-Cola

Xfinity Series

02Brett MoffittOur MotorsportsHalf Off WholesaleMark Martin’s 1982 Jolly Rancher
07Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingBucked Up BuckshotBuckshot Jones’ 2001
08David StarrSS-Green Light RacingTicketSmarterBobby Dotter’s 1995 Hyde Tools
1Sam MayerJR MotorsportsAccelerate Pro Talent SolutionsRick Mast’s Skoal
6Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsMonarch RoofingJeff Gordon’s 2000 Pepsi
7Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsHellmann’sDale Earnhardt’s 1984 Wrangler
8Sam MayerJR MotorsportsTire ProsDale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2002 Looney Tunes
19Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingMenardsPaul Menard’s 2011 Brickyard 400
27Jeb BurtonOur MotorsportsSolid Rock CarriersWard Burton’s 1992 Gwaltney’s
31Myatt SniderJordan Anderson RacingCapital City TowingKen Schrader’s 1987 Red Baron
35Patrick EmerlingEmerling-Gase MotorsportsB.R. Dewitt Inc.Richie Evans’ B.R. Dewitt
44Josh BilickiAlpha Prime RacingInsurance KingBill Elliott’s 2006 Burger King
48Tyler ReddickBig Machine Racing TeamSpiked CoolersBobby Allison’s 1971 Coca-Cola
51Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingSpartan WasteDale Earnhardt’s 1982 Wrangler
54Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingInterstate BatteriesBobby Labonte’s 2002 Interstate Batteries
66J.J. YeleyMBM MotorsportsWorkpro ToolsBobby Hamilton’s 1993 Country Time
68Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsBrandonbilt FoundationsBrown’s Old Dominion Speedway car
78Josh WilliamsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsAlloy Employee ServicesB.J. McLeod’s 2004 Super Late Model
91Mason MasseyDGM RacingMarty Massey Towing & RecoveryMarty Massey’s 2003 dirt late model
99Stefan ParsonsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsSokal/Circle BPhil Parsons’ 1988 Skoal

Truck Series

1Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingWastequipBobby Allison’s 1975 AMC Matador
9Blaine PerkinsCR7 MotorsportsRaceline WheelsDoug George’s 1996 Ortho
12Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsRimTymeMichael Waltrip’s 1985 Hawaiian Punch
16Tyler AnkrumHattori Racing EnterprisesLIUNAMike Skinner’s 2004 Toyota
17Ryan PreeceDavid Gilliland RacingUnited RentalsReggie Ruggiero
20Danny BohnYoung’s MotorsportsTicks SuckDarrell Waltrip’s 1981/82 Mountain Dew
25Matt DiBenedettoRackley WARRackley RoofingSterling Marlin’s Coors Light
33Josh ReaumeReaume Brothers RacingHardy Boys ConsultingDale Earnhardt’s Goodwrench
40Dean ThompsonNiece MotorsportsWorldwide ExpressDean Thompson’s 1984
42Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsPremier SecurityTravis Pastrana’s 2012 Boost Mobile Nationwide
43Akinori OgataReaume Brothers RacingKyowa IndustrialMike Skinner’s 2005 Toyota
44Kris WrightNiece MotorsportsVFWRon Hornaday Jr.’s 2009 VFW
45Lawless AlanNiece MotorsportsAutoParkItJeff Gordon’s 2007 Department of Defense
52Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingHalmarJack Johnson’s dirt modified
61Chase PurdyHattori Racing EnterprisesBama BuggiesDarrell Waltrip’s 2004 Toyota
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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