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NASCAR’s time warp of a week will end in the past with retro paint schemes at Darlington Raceway. After the industry unveiled its Next Gen car Wednesday in a look to the future, the sport will nod to its history for the annual Throwback Weekend.
The Cup Series race, the Goodyear 400, is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on FS1. Teams have been rolling out their car paint schemes for the Mother’s Day race. The Observer ranked the top-10 based on the throwback’s historical significance and design.
10. Daniel Suárez’s No. 99 Camping World Chevrolet
The No. 99 paint scheme was designed to honor the 55th birthday of Trackhouse sponsor Camping World. CEO Marcus Lemonis held a design contest on social media to select the winning scheme, created by graphic designer Noah Sweet, also known as “Lefty.”
9. Kyle Busch’s No. 18 M&Ms Toyota
This selection is also sponsor-focused, and honors the 80th anniversary of longtime Joe Gibbs Racing partner Mars M&M’s. Mars has sponsored Busch since 2008 and the scheme invokes a retro look with cartoonized M&M characters.
8. Joey Logano’s No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford
Logano’s sponsor Shell-Pennzoil is sporting a paint scheme that honors motorsports icon Mario Andretti and the 50th anniversary of his first F1 victory. Andretti drove for Ferrari and Shell in 1971 when he scored his first win in the series in South Africa racing the red-and-white design. Andretti surprised Logano with the paint scheme unveiling on NASCAR Race Hub last month.
7. Kyle Larson’s No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet
Larson’s Throwback scheme is tied to his childhood, as it resembles the first go-kart he raced in at age seven. HendrickCars.com is among a growing list of sponsors for Larson this year, in addition to Cincinnati Inc., Freightliner and Valvoline, and will be the primary on the No. 5 throwback. The design will also feature a decal that says “MAJ1K” in reference to a family team logo that includes his family members’ initials: Mike (Kyle’s father), Andrea (Kyle’s sister), Janet (Kyle’s mother), the number one for his old kart number and K for Kyle.
6. Chase Briscoe’s No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford
Briscoe’s scheme with sponsor HighPoint.com will recognize iconic motorsports crossover racer A.J. Foyt, whose career included 35 consecutive Indianapolis 500 starts, seven NASCAR wins and 41 USAC stock car victories. The No. 14 design pulls from Foyt’s Copenhagen scheme from his 1986 Cup Series season.
“We all know I was always a diehard Tony Stewart fan and that was because he was willing to race anything, anywhere. And Tony looked up to A.J. for that same reason,” Briscoe said.
5. Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet
Hooters has a history with NASCAR champions. The sponsor will make its 2021 season debut on the No. 9 at Darlington with Elliott honoring past series winner Alan Kulwicki, who drove the Hooters scheme in 1992 when he won the Cup Series title by besting Chase’s father, Bill Elliott. Hooters will also be featured on the No. 9 at the Indianapolis road course and at the Bristol playoff race later this season.
4. Erik Jones’ No. 43 STP Chevrolet
Jones’ paint scheme honors late NASCAR driver John Andretti, who died last year after a long battle with colon cancer. The Throwback scheme calls to the No. 43 STP scheme Andretti raced from 1998 to 2000, and won with at Martinsville in 1999. Jones won the Pro Invitational Series race at virtual Darlington on Wednesday.
3. Aric Almirola’s No. 10 Winn-Dixie Ford
Almirola is paying tribute to Mark Martin and the former driver’s 2000 Busch Series win at Texas Motor Speedway in a Smithfield and Winn-Dixie sponsored car. The updated design on Almirola’s ride is eye-catching with red, yellow and orange flames covering the entire car body and Winn-Dixie written on the rear quarter-panels.
2. Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 Zerex Chevrolet
LaJoie has been entertaining fans on social media since joining Spire Motorsports, where the team runs the No. 7 Chevrolet out of the former Alan Kulwicki Racing shop in Concord, N.C. LaJoie recreated a photo of the Hall of Fame driver outside the shop in January, and is again throwing it back to Kulwicki. The No. 7 scheme closely recalls the 1989 and 1990 design Kulwicki ran down to the Zerex sponsor.
1. Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 Root Insurance Toyota
Sponsor Root Insurance teamed up with Wallace last year to “champion progress that is long overdue.” The Throwback paint scheme honoring Wendell Scott, the first Black driver to win a premier-level NASCAR race, is the latest example of the duo highlighting the sport’s historic lack of driver diversity. Wallace’s scheme reflects Scott’s blue No. 34 design he raced during his 1963 victory at Jacksonville’s Speedway Park, in which he was originally denied a trophy. The rollout of the scheme on social media highlighted the Wendell Scott Foundation, a non-profit that honors Scott’s legacy by engaging youth in communities that have not been served with STEM-based educational opportunities. Wallace announced that he would match a $10,000 donation by Root Insurance to go to the foundation.