Ladies and Gentlemen…The 2016 Paint Schemies!

By David G. Firestone

For the end of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season, the Paint Schemies have returned! The Schemies will reveal the best,and worst paint schemes of 2016. I’ve eliminated the exhibition and improved categories for 2016, with exhibition replaced by throwback paint scheme. This was done using the Driver Suit Blog executive committee for paint scheme analysis and consists of me and Driver Suit Blog assistant, my cat Alejandro, and uses the following standards:

Color Scheme:How the colors look, and how they work with each other.

Overall Design:How good the design itself looks, is there too much, or not enough.

Primary Sponsor Logos: How the primary sponsor logos look on the car

Originality: How original is the scheme.

All of the above can work for or against a scheme, and all will be taken into consideration.

Let’s get the bad paint scheme awards out of the way.

First, the Paint Schemie Award for Worst Regular Season Single Paint Scheme .

The nominees are:

Danica Patrick #10 Aspen Dental Chevy SS

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Mosiac Ford Fusion

David Ragan #23 Sweet Frog Toyota Camry

Ryan Newman #31 Wix Filters Chevy SS

Jeffery Earnhardt #32 Can-Am/Kappa Ford Fusion

Matt DiBenedetto #83 Mass Markets Toyota Camry

The Award for Worst Regular Season Single Paint Scheme goes to:

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Mosiac Ford Fusion

The next award is for Worst Paint Scheme Set, meaning the team that is running consistently bad schemes all year. The nominees are:

#5 Hendrick Motorsports

#22 Team Penske

#32 Go Fas Racing Team

#48 Hendrick Motorsports

#78 Furniture Row Racing

#83 BK Racing

The The winner of the Award For Worst Scheme Set of 2016 goes to…

#22 Team Penske

The next Paint Schemie Award is for Throwback Paint Schemes. This category is a little different, as the Schemies will go to the best and worst throwback. For 2016, the nominees for Worst Throwback Paint Schemeof 2016 goes to…

Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s Mac Tonight Throwback Chevy SS

Now after talking about the bad, we discuss the good. Here are the winners in the best category…

First, the Paint Schemie Award for Best Regular Season Single Paint Scheme.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion

Austin Dillon #3 Cheerios Chevy SS

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Chevy SS

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry

Carl Edwards #19 Stanley Toyota Camry

Ryan Blaney #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

Kurt Busch #41 Monster Energy Chevy SS

Brian Scott #44 Jewel-Osco/Ritz/Triscut Ford Fusion

Marin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Toyota Camry

The winner of the Schemie for Best Regular Season Single Paint Scheme of 2016 goes to…

Ryan Blaney #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

The next category is best throwback, and it should come as no surprise that the competition was strong this year.

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Throwback Chevy SS

Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Mark Martin Throwback Ford Fusion

Clint Bowyer #15 Five Hour Energy Benny Parsons Throwback Chevy SS

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fastenal Throwback Ford Fusion

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries Dale Jarrett Throwback Toyota Camry

Carl Edwards #19 Arris Tony Stewart Throwback Toyota Camry

Matt Kenseth #20 Tide Pods Toyota Camry

Ryan Blaney #21 Motorcraft Throwback Ford Fusion

Jeffery Earnhardt #32 Keen Parts Dale Earnhardt Throwback Ford Fusion

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Earnhardt Throwback Chevy SS

The winner of the Schemie for Best Throwback Scheme of 2016 goes to…

Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Mark Martin Throwback Ford Fusion

The final award of 2016 is the Paint Schemie for Best Paint Scheme Set of 2016. The nominees are:

#20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

#21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford

#30 TMG Chevy

#35 Front Row Motorsports Ford

#38 Front Row Motorsports Ford

#41 Stewart Haas Racing Chevy

#47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevy

#55 Premium Motorsports Chevy/Toyota

#98 Premium Motorsports Chevy/Toyota

The winner of the Schemie for Best Paint Scheme Set of 2016 goes to…

#98 Premium Motorsports

That’s it for the Schemies, next week, the Paint Scheme Leaderboard begins with Chevy!

My Thoughts On NASCAR’s Newest Premier Series Sponsor

By David G. Firestone

As predicted, it was announced today that Monster Energy will be the new series sponsor for what was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This had been predicted, and I watched the press conference. I took a couple things away from that conference.

*NASCAR is getting “significantly less” money for the sponsorship from Monster than they did from Sprint. This doesn’t come as a shock to me due to the fact that within the last 10 years, TV ratings, and race attendance are down. Obviously this had an effect on the overall deal, and Monster had the best deal for the amount of ideas for the price.

*Monster has made it clear that they will be more aggressive with marketing. This is not a minor issue, for the reason above. Monster wants to “bring more younger viewers into the sport, while not alienating the current fan base.” I’m paraphrasing, but that is a good approach. Spring didn’t seem to be as interested in marketing as they should have been, and the sport suffered as a result.

*Looking at their current sponsorships and their current attitude, Monster is a motorsports oriented sponsor. Between Formula 1, Kurt Busch, World Rally Cross, and now NASCAR, it’s clear that Monster was the best choice.

*I have to wonder how this will affect current sponsorships. One guarantee a series sponsor has is that it automatically becomes the only company that can sponsor cars in their industry. Monster could be in any number of industries. Monster Energy could be classified as being in the energy drink, soda, or beverage industry. If it is in the energy drink category, that would be the best thing, because that would mean that other soda and beer companies wouldn’t have any issues. If it is in the soda category, that could affect Hendrick Motorsports, who has deals with Pepsi, and BK Racing, who has deals with Dr. Pepper/7Up. If it is in the beverage industry, that could make it very difficult for teams to find new sponsors.

*While current sponsors will probably get grandfathered in by the current deal, there is no guarantee that the sponsorships will remain in place. Something could happen that would violate an agreement, and then certain sponsors will get banned. This isn’t an unreasonable thing to worry about. Under Nextel/Sprint, Verizon and AT&T were both banned from sponsoring cars in the premier series.

*and finally, I didn’t realize that Monster Energy was an independent company, that has some stock owned by Coca Cola. I had thought that Coca Cola had purchased Monster a few ears ago.

It should also be noted that the series name and logo are still being worked on, so as soon as those get revealed, I will discuss them at length.

Throwback Thursday-Lake Speed-1998

By David G. Firestone

Lake Speed and Melling Racing, both in the Twilight of their careers, came together to field this 1998 Cartoon Network Ford Taurus.

The red background works well, and the number looks decent. That’s really the only good thing I can say about the car. The cartoon designs all around the car are so over done, and the car as a whole looks awful. I love how they use the Wacky Racing theme for their first race car design. It was just a poorly thought out idea that didn’t work. Leave it to Ted Turner to keep a bad idea going for as long as possible, as this sponsorship stayed for a few seasons. It’s just not good.

My Thoughts On 2017 Rules and Outlooks

By David G. Firestone

Before I finish for the year, I wanted to take some time and discuss a few things in the NASCAR world that are changing. Some are good, others are not. But all of them are going to impact the 2017 NASCAR season.

First is the big news that there are new rules for Cup drivers in the Xfinity and Truck Series. The two most important new rules are:

*Drivers with more than five years of full-time premier series experience will be ineligible to compete in the final eight races in each series, as well as the Dash 4 Cash races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The final eight races are comprised of the regular season finale and the entirety of the Chase in each series.

*Starting next season, premier series drivers with more than five years of full-time experience will be eligible to compete in a maximum of 10 races in the XFINITY Series and seven races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

I don’t think that the rules go far enough. I am a fan of the idea that the minor leagues of racing should only be used for driver development and/or driver injury rehabilitation. That is how every other sport in the history of ever has used their minor leagues. In my mind, full-time Cup drivers shouldn’t be allowed to compete in the Xfinity or Truck series, unless they have missed some races due to injury and want to judge if they are capable of running a full Cup race, or they lose their ride, and aren’t competing in the Cup series anymore.

Please don’t try to tell me that the Xfinity and Truck races benefit from “star power” of the Cup drivers. That argument makes zero sense whatsoever, because no other sports league does that with their stars. Did the NHL send Wayne Gretzky to the minors to boost their star power? Did the NBA send LeBron James to the D-league? Did the MLB send Mickey Mantle to the minors to boost star power? The answer is no. Mantle and Gretzky did spend time in the minors, but that was early in their careers, where their talents were obvious but they needed some more polish before debuting in the major leagues.

I also got some news last week that proves something I have been saying for some time. Greg Biffle was released from Roush Racing due to a lack of sponsorship. Biffle finished 23rd in the standings, and was the third best of the Roush drivers, with Trevor Bayne finishing 22nd, and Ricky Stenhouse finishing 21st. Roush Fenway Racing has gone from super team to super joke in the last decade. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Why Jack Roush refuses to use the free agency system for his team is perplexing. Roush exclusively uses his developmental program for his Cup teams, despite all evidence that in recent years, it hasn’t worked well. Even teams like Richard Chldress Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing, who were also using their developmental programs for their Cup talent figured out quickly that the free agent market is a great way to boost their teams. Roush seems to be fixated on that, despite that in the last 10 years, it has gotten them nowhere.

Yes, it did work with Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle, but those guys were very talented drivers who would have thrived no matter where they ran. While Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Trevor Bayne are talented drivers, they aren’t on the level of Edwards, Kenseth, or Biffle. That’s not taking anything away from them. You need to be a talented driver to race your way into the Cup Series. Hell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a two-time Xfinity Champion, but when was the last time a driver was Xfinity Series Champion, then went on to win a Cup Championship? Bobby Labonte did it in 2000, but that’s the only example. Roush has more faith in his developmental program and his equipment than he should. The only driver to win in a Roush-Fenway car was Chris Buescher, and he just signed with a Chevy team for 2017.

Now we move on to Brian Scott. This is the sort of thing that just annoys me with professional athletes sometimes. Prior to the race at Phoenix, Scott announced that he would be retiring from driving at age 28. I’d like to quote the Richard Petty Motorsports press release if I may:

“MOORESVILLE, N.C. (November 10, 2016) – Richard Petty Motorsports and Brian Scott today announced Scott, driver of the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, will retire from full-time competition in NASCAR at the end of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Scott has made the personal decision to focus on his young and growing family and also the next phase of his career.”

Let me see I understand this correctly, you are giving up a job that pays very well, where you have no real worries providing for your family, to focus on your family. I looked this up, and I discovered that Brian Scott’s career earnings in the top three series are over $10 million, and that’s just on-track, that doesn’t factor into endorsements. You are also one of the few drivers who has built-in sponsorships. You don’t have as much trouble as some drivers in finding companies to sponsor your team.

Also, you retired to “focus on the next phase of your career.” Someone please explain to me what in the Hell that means? What is this “next phase?” You have worked your whole life to become a race car driver, but now you have retired. I hope you have a decent education, and can find a decent place to work, because very few places pay as well as your previous job, and I’m willing to bet your savings won’t carry through for 18 years.

Something else that went under the radar in recent weeks is that it was announced that Phoenix International Raceway is making some improvements to the track. Now normally, I would be all for it, because that usualy means that there are new fan amenities and some new stuff for the driver. Then I saw what was being done, and I went into shock. Here is the generalized list, according to NBC Sports:

-The start/finish line is shown to be in what is now Turn 2.

-All the frontstretch grandstands would be eliminated and replaced by an elevated RV parking lot and have additional parking behind it.

-The Allison grandstand in Turn 2 will be extended to go through the entire turn.

-Pit road will be moved closer to the infield and have a tighter radius. That will allow additional space between the track and pit road.

-There would be five new garages for competitors.

-The media center would be moved from its present location across from the current start/finish line to just beyond Turn 2.

-The infield care center would move from behind the current media center to between what is now Turns 3 and 4.

-Victory Lane would be moved behind pit road to spot between what is now Turns 1 and 2.

When I saw that the front-stretch grandstands would be eliminated, and that the start/finish line would be moved to turn two, I honestly thought it was a joke of some kind, but the plans that have been submitted clearly show this is the real setup. What in the world is going on here? Was the racing in Phoenix so bad, that the track had to be drastically changed? I didn’t think it was bad. It boggles the mind that someone not only came up with this, but submitted the plans for approval. I can only hope the racing is as good as they want it to be.

As of this writing, NASCAR hasn’t announced a series sponsor for the Cup series. I’m going to start my winter break after Saturday, but if the announcement comes through, I will discuss the new sponsor and new logos. See you in January.

The Final Paint Scheme Grades of 2016-November 26, 2016

By David G. Firestone

Dylan Lupton #32 Can Am/Corvette Parts Ford Fusion-It’s a smooth scheme, with a great color scheme, and a great look. It earns an A.

Michael McDowell #59 Thrivent Financial Chevy SS-Replacing the silver with black helped the car a little, but the scheme itself is overdone, and doesn’t look as good as it could be. All things considered, I give it a C+.

Alex Bowman #88 Axalta/Finish Master Chevy SS-Same scheme as Axalta, same A grade.


Formula One Month Ends With A Bang!

schumacherpant-1By David G. Firestone

On this, the last Friday Feature of Formula One Month, I’ve saved the best for last. I really do mean the best here. With 91 wins, 155 podiums, 1,566 career points, 68 pole positions, and 29 total Formula One records including wins, podiums, championships, and pole positions, Michael Schumacher is one of, if not the greatest drivers in the history of Formula One. His 91 career wins is 40 wins total over the next driver, Alain Prost, who has 51 wins. From 1991 to 2006, Schumacher raced for Jordan, and Bentiton, winning two championships for Bentition, before moving to Ferrari in 1996. After being disqualified from the World Championship for is actions at the European Grand Prix, Schumacher returned to a 2nd place finish in 1998, then down to a 5th place finish in 1999.

Then in 2000, while still with Ferrari, he began his 5 Championship run from 2000 to 2004. After two more successful years, Schumacher retired in 2006. From 2007 to 2009, Schumacher held a number of position in Ferrari, including team adviser, and road car driver. When Mercedes restarted their Formula One team, they gave Schumacher a chance to drive, next to Nico Rosberg. Schumacher took it, and for three seasons, he raced again in Formula One. This didn’t go so well, with Schumacher not winning, and only scoring one podium. After the 2012 season, Schumacher retired for a second time, this time for good.

Schumacher was known for wearing Sparco suits while with Bentition, and OMP suits with Ferrari. When he returned from retirement, he wore Alpinestars with Mercedes in 2010, and 2011. In what was his final season before his second and final retirement, he wore Puma suits for 2012. This pair of pants, worn under the driver suit, is attributed to Schumacher.The lightweight Nomex Puma pants are in good condition, and show some light wear.schumacherpant-1The waist shows some light wear, and has a Puma wash tag with M.S. written in Sharpie. This appears to be the same writing as the Valtteri Bottas undergarments.schumacherpant-2 schumacherpant-3The cuffs are hemmed, but the hem is very hard to see.schumacherpant-4 schumacherpant-5The back of the pants don’t show any wear to speak of.schumacherpant-6On the center, just below the hem on the back of the pants is the Puma FIA 8856-2000 Compliance tag.schumacherpant-7I’d like to believe that Schumacher could have had one more run in Formula One in him, but tragedy struck. On December 29, 2013, Schumacher and his son Mick were skiing off-piste on the Combe de Saulire below the Dent de Burgin above Méribel in the French Alps, when he fell, and hit his head on a rock. Despite wearing a ski helmet, Schumacher suffered serious brain injuries, leaving him unable to walk, and having serious memory problems, and unable to speak. He may never walk again, and certainly will never race again. It’s a tragic and sad end to a racing legend’s career, and maybe his life.

Although his life has more or less been ruined through his skiing accident, his life will forever be known for Formula One, and his legacy as one of the greatest of all time has been cemented. I can only wish him and his family the best in his recovery.

With Formula One Month now complete, I’m going to shift focus to one of my December traditions…The Paint Schemies! That takes place next week!

Throwback Thursday-Jerry Nadeau-1998

By David G. Firestone

Jerry Nadeau in better days, racing his 1998 First Plus Financial Ford Taurus.

It’s 1998, and one of the greatest legends in football is in the twilight of his career. He needs to do something after football, so Dan Marino teamed up with Bill Elliott to form Elliott-Marino Racing. Jerry Nadeau was the first in a rotation of drivers in 1998, sponsored by First Plus Financial. The color scheme is based on the Miami Dolphins color scheme. The #13 is based on the jersey numbers, and it’s good look. I don’t like the U design across the door, I think the whole car should look like the rear of the car. Aqua top, orange stripe on the bottom. Still, I think that, all things considered, it could be worse.