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Which NASCAR Cup drivers are sporting throwback liveries at Darlington?

Darlington Raceway has become synonymous with the NASCAR Cup Series Retro Round

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For the 10th year in a row, the NASCAR Cup Series will honour the past at Darlington Raceway in the form of special throwback liveries.

The theme for 2024 is “Celebrate our Roots through Grassroots Racing”, encouraging drivers to sport a paint scheme based on a car they drove at the start of their career. However, this is not mandatory and some have opted for other tributes instead, whether it be related to their sponsor or another figure in racing’s history.

“Grassroots racing is the lifeblood of our sport, and providing our industry with a chance to pay tribute to their grassroots origin story acknowledges the importance that it plays in the past, present and future of NASCAR,” said Darlington track president Josh Harris.

Some teams like Team Penske and most of Joe Gibbs Racing will not do throwbacks.

NASCAR Cup Series throwbacks for Darlington

#1 Ross Chastain: Busch Light

Although his 200th career Cup Series start would theoretically be the ideal time to reflect on his career up to this point, Ross Chastain has instead deviated from the grassroots theme and will do a throwback to his sponsor Busch Light. The livery is based on the beer brand’s packaging used in the 1990s and turn of the millennium.

#3 Austin Dillon: Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 golden car

Much of Austin Dillon‘s branding is reminiscent of the late Dale Earnhardt, down to using the same number and font. Dillon also frequently does throwbacks to the seven-time champion at Darlington, and that won’t be any different in 2024 as his car is designed after the golden #3 that Earnhardt raced at the 1998 The Winston (now All-Star Race). Both cars are also sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, though Dillon’s throwback features Tracker Boats on the quarter panels rather than the defunct GM Goodwrench.

Dillon will also hope his race goes better than Earnhardt’s, who crashed out of The Winston.

#4 Josh Berry: Rodney Childers’ 1998 late model

While Josh Berry cut his teeth in grassroots racing as the 2020 NASCAR Weekly Series champion, his throwback is to the grassroots career of his crew chief Rodney Childers, who raced in late models prior to briefly pursuing a NASCAR career and committing to working behinds the scenes.

The car is based on Childers’ 1998 late model. It also includes references to the state of South Carolina where Darlington is located: Greenville-Pickens Speedway and Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds are mentioned, as are drivers in the South Carolina Hall of Fame like Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts, and Ned Jarrett.

#5 Kyle Larson: Terry Labonte’s Corn Flakes car

Hendrick Motorsports‘ #5 car has won the Cup championship twice with Terry Labonte in 1996 and Kyle Larson in 2021. The latter will shout out the former as his car is painted after the Corn Flakes #5 that Labonte raced from 1996 to 1998; he won four races with 59 top 10s during this stretch. The yellow-and-red livery remained in 1999 as parent company Kellogg’s placed their own name on the car before introducing a new appearance for 2000.

#6 Brad Keselowski: Castrol TOM’S Toyota Supra

Although Brad Keselowski‘s car is a Ford Mustang, he will pay tribute to a rival manufacturer, albeit in another discipline entirely thanks to his sponsor Castrol.

His #6 is based on the TOM’S Toyota Supra that competed in the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (predecessor to Super GT) in the 1990s. Arguably one of the series’ most famous cars, it has since become an icon thanks to its inclusion in the Gran Turismo games.

#7 Corey LaJoie: His first K&N East win

Corey LaJoie‘s #7 will be modelled after the #07 that he drove to his first career NASCAR win in 2012, when he won at Bowman Gray Stadium in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (now ARCA Menards Series East) for his family-owned team. LaJoie went on to claim four more wins that year and finished runner-up in points before shifting his focus towards the national tiers.

“It’s always fun when we can bring a new partner to the track and introduce them to the sport,” LaJoie commented, referring to Spire Motorsports‘ new sponsor Razzle Dazzle. “I really appreciate the team at Razzle Dazzle for being willing to participate in Darlington’s initiative and help us throw it back to my first NASCAR win at Bowman Gray. Our Razzle Dazzle Chevy Camaro looks awesome and we’re going to work our tails off to have a great day on the race track.”

#9 Chase Elliott: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2014 Daytona 500 winner

Fan favourite Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his second and final Daytona 500 in 2014 in a National Guard-branded #88 car. Later that year, Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Nationwide (Xfinity) Series championship for Earnhardt’s team.

A decade later, Elliott will revive Earnhardt’s National Guard livery, loosely styled after the American flag. The tribute will also extend into the cockpit as he wears skeleton hand gloves like Earnhardt did during his career.

#14 Chase Briscoe: Briscoe family’s dirt cars

Chase Briscoe‘s family has a deep history in dirt track racing. His father Kevin and grandfather Richard both compete in sprint cars, the former even unsuccessfully dabbling in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1997.

As such, his #14 is designed to represent the family sprint car operation.

#15 Kaz Grala: Parnelli Jones’ 1969 Mustang

Kaz Grala‘s #15 is a tribute to the Boss 302 Mustang that 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones and road racing legend George Follmer shared in the Trans-Am Series in 1969. The car was built by Ford associate KAR-KRAFT before being turned over to NASCAR Hall of Famer Bud Moore, then passed on to Jones and Follmer; it did not finish the season due to a crash, after which it was restored and re-bought by Moore in 1982. The actual Mustang continues to be raced in historic events today.

#19 Martin Truex Jr.: His 2016 Darlington winner

The only Joe Gibbs Racing driver with some sort of throwback, Martin Truex Jr.‘s #19 is loosely based on the #78 that he drove to victory at Darlington in 2016, which in turn was a special scheme to celebrate the centennial anniversary of sponsor Auto-Owners Insurance.

#21 Harrison Burton: Wood Brothers’ 1939 Ford

Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest active team in NASCAR, will dive deep into their record books for Harrison Burton’s throwback: co-founders Glen and Leonard Wood’s 1939 Ford, which was raced during their maiden Cup season in 1953.

#24 William Byron: Jeff Gordon’s “FireStorm” car

Virtually every throwback that William Byron has done is a nod to his boss and the previous #24 driver Jeff Gordon. That won’t change in 2024 as his car is based on Gordon’s “FireStorm” livery that he raced from 2009 to 2011. While Gordon did not enjoy much success in the car with only a single win, it did help him to a third-place points finish in 2009.

#34 Michael McDowell: Long John Silver’s tribute

Michael McDowell‘s final season with Front Row Motorsports will have a nod to sponsor Long John Silver’s, run by team owner Bob Jenkins. The restaurant chain previously used a mascot of a pirate with a parrot, which will be displayed prominently on the side of McDowell’s #34.

“This is such a cool weekend and a fun race, especially with Long John Silver’s participating with their throwback scheme,” McDowell stated. “It’s a big challenge, but last year we had really fast cars in both races. That’s really given us a lot of confidence that we can go into Darlington and get a good result to keep up our good momentum from last week.”

#38 Todd Gilliland: 2015 CARS Tour car

Todd Gilliland‘s car is based on the late model that he raced as a teenager in 2015, driving to victory at the inaugural CARS Late Model Stock Tour event at Southern National Motorsports Park. The throwback even goes as far as to include the “G”—referring to his last initial—next to his number (his late model was the #98G).

“It’s really cool, definitely a lot of hard work and sweat had gone into this car,” Gilliland said. “I was just a 14-year-old kid trying to get experience with the dream to race in the Cup Series and taking it step-by-step. This car makes me think about all the memories made along the way and my journey to Cup and to even race at Darlington for throwback weekend.”

#41 Ryan Preece: 2013 NASCAR Modified championship

Ryan Preece‘s #41 will pay tribute to the car with which he won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2013. Driving the #16 for Eric Sanderson, he won four times that year. Two straight runner-up finishers followed before he started to dip his feet more into NASCAR’s higher echelons.

#42 John Hunter Nemechek: Lee Petty’s 1956 car

As Legacy Motor Club celebrates their 75th anniversary, John Hunter Nemechek’s #42 will be a nod to Lee Petty’s #42 Dodge that finished fourth in Cup points with two wins.

#43 Erik Jones: Richard Petty’s 1959 car

Lee’s son Richard Petty began racing in NASCAR in 1958, and would go on to turn #43 into one of the most iconic numbers in the sport’s history. Erik Jones will race a #43 throwback to Richard’s sophomore year in 1959 and his first season with the number; Richard ran ten races that year in the #43 with a runner-up finish at Lakewood Speedway.

#45 Tyler Reddick: Tim Richmond’s 1982 car

Tim Richmond throwbacks are often done by his longtime team Hendrick Motorsports, with Larson and Alex Bowman among them. Tyler Reddick is not a Hendrick driver, but 23XI Racing will still give a nod to the late star, albeit a slightly different car than one might expect.

Reddick’s #45 is based on Richmond’s #29 Ford that failed to qualify for the 1982 Daytona 500, but won the consolation race intended for drivers who missed the show.

#47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Mark Martin’s 2004 car

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s #47 is a throwback to the #6 of Mark Martin that finished fourth in the 2004 Budweiser Shootout (now Busch Light Clash). Stenhouse previously raced for Roush/RFK Racing like Martin.

“This is such a cool paint scheme to throwback to at Darlington,” Stenhouse commented. “Mark Martin has always been an icon of this sport and so has Oscar Mayer with their involvement over the years. To have them partner with Artesano for this race weekend is a perfect pairing and should motivate all the fans to get to their local Kroger and get stocked up for an exciting race on Sunday.”

#48 Alex Bowman: Jimmie Johnson’s early Lowe’s car

Much like his Hendrick team-mate Byron honouring his #24 predecessor, Alex Bowman‘s #48 is a throwback to the previous #48 driver Jimmie Johnson. His car is based on the #48 Lowe’s machine that Johnson raced at the start of his Cup career from 2002 to 2005 prior to his historic championship run in the second half of the aughts.

#71 Zane Smith: Dave Marcis’ K&K car

Zane Smith‘s #71 is based on the red #71 that Dave Marcis raced in the Cup Series during the 1970s for Nord Krauskopf. Bobby Isaac also piloted this car to the 1970 championship whereas Marcis came up just short in the 1975 points battle, before the latter took over the number for his own operation from 1979 to 2002.

#77 Carson Hocevar: Vintage police car

In lieu of a racing throwback, Carson Hocevar‘s #77 is inspired by older police cars in North America, with the doors in white and the ends in black. While this scheme is still used by many cop cars today, various police departments have since diversified their liveries; for example, Darlington’s police primarily have white cars with blue and silver markings.

Kyle Weatherman had a similar approach in 2020 when his #47 Xfinity car was purportedly designed after one of the police cars used in The Andy Griffith Show.

“This collaboration represents a powerful alliance, uniting our shared commitment to honoring the sacrifices of those who serve and protect,” said Bill Alexander, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The NLEOMF is sponsoring the #77 to celebrate National Police Week. “We appreciate Carson showing his support of NLEOMF and wish him well on race day.”

#99 Daniel Suarez: Adrian Fernandez’s 2004 IndyCar

Daniel Suárez‘s #99 will honour fellow Mexican driver Adrián Fernández, who competed in a litany of series ranging from IndyCar to sports cars before becoming Sergio Pérez’s manager at the start of his F1 career. Suárez’s throwback is inspired by Fernández’s 2004 IndyCar, with which won three races en route to a fifth-place points finish.

Justin Nguyen
Justin Nguyen
Justin Nguyen is Total-Motorsport.com's resident NASCAR aficionado and is also the off-road reporter for The Checkered Flag.
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