DARLINGTON, S.C. — The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway this Labor Day weekend for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. This is the third straight year of Darlington’s throwback campaign and this edition will focus on the 1985-89 era. There are 40 drivers on the entry list and, as of today, 32 will run retro paint schemes to honor the rich history of the sport.
The tributes are as varied as the drivers. Did you know that three different Cup Series drivers will feature a salute to Dale Earnhardt? Earnhardt has nine Darlington victories, second only to David Pearson. Jeffrey Earnhardt’s No. 33 car will feature a green and white scheme that resembles the one his grandfather drove in the XFINITY Series in the 1980s. Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevy and Ryan Newman’s No. 31 will honor Earnhardt’s yellow and blue Wrangler scheme. This particular paint scheme is similar to the one Earnhardt drove in 1987 when he won his first Southern 500.
Jamie McMurray will pay tribute to David Pearson, who leads all drivers with 10 Darlington wins, Brad Keselowski will honor Rusty Wallace’s 1994 “Midnight” paint scheme and Trevor Bayne’s car will represent the scheme that Mark Martin drove when he claimed the first Cup victory for Roush Fenway Racing at North Carolina Motor Speedway in 1989.
Other drivers being honored includes Davey Allison (Corey LaJoie), Bobby Allison (Matt DiBenedetto) and Alan Kulwicki (Michael McDowell). Check out this preview of all the Darlington throwback paint schemes.
Darlington Raceway’s throwback weekend pays homage to a tradition that began on Sept. 4, 1950, when they hosted NASCAR’s first 500-mile race. There were 75 drivers entered into the event but did you know that the race was won by Johnny Mantz? It was his first and only win in the Cup Series. There have been 113 Cup races at the 1.366-mile track and 49 different drivers have won.
Martin Truex Jr. is the defending race winner and is one of only six active drivers who has visited Victory Lane at Darlington. Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with three victories while Kevin Harvick (2014), Matt Kenseth (2013), Denny Hamlin (2010) and Kyle Busch (2008) have one win each. But did you know that the last 11 races have been won by 11 different drivers?
With only two races remaining in the regular season, the Southern 500 should deliver a night to remember. Capture the Coors Light Pole Award and you’re one step closer to victory. The pole is the most proficient starting position at Darlington. It has produced 20 winners while 17 drivers have won from the second place starting position. But did you know that the deepest in the field that a race winner has started is 43rd? That driver was Johnny Mantz in the Darlington inaugural Cup Series race in 1950. Qualifying for this year’s Southern 500 will be held Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET.
Tune in this weekend for all the on-track action beginning with the first Cup Series practice Friday at 1 p.m. ET followed by the final practice at 3:30 p.m. The Southern 500 closes out the weekend Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBCSN.
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DID YOU KNOW? Chase Elliott is running a throwback scheme honoring his dad’s first Cup ride for the family-owned team in the powder blue #24? Of course, you didn’t know that, because you are a newbie and have no business covering a sport you know nothing about!
Yes, he is. In fact, there are 32 different drivers with throwback paint schemes and that is why I included a link to all of them. This article is not meant to be a comprehensive list of throwback schemes. It’s a preview that touches on various aspects of Darlington and the Southern 500. For future reference, I’ve been covering the sport since 2009 so I don’t consider myself a “newbie” although I’ll be the first to admit that there is always something new to learn.