Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 4-The Grand Finale

By David G. Firestone

The focus group of one has had its meetings, and has made its decisions.  Here are all 50 teams that ran the Sprint Cup this year ranked first to last on their paint schemes:

#1-Wood Brothers #21-A classic design scheme that just seems to get better with age. The Henry Ford design combines classic and modern elements for an amazing look.

#2-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Jimmie Johnson went with a very classic look, with a day scheme and a night scheme, which worked very well. Johnson did not have a bad look all year.

#3-Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Simple traditional designs. That is the secret to their success on the leaderboard. Color schemes are great as well. Nothing wrong with these schemes.

#4-Furniture Row Racing #78 When it came down to picking a number 1 for Chevy, for both the Paint Schemie and the Leaderboard, I had to flip a coin to pick a number 1, and Johnson won. Kurt Busch ran a series of very solid schemes, not a lot to comment on and it always looks good.

#5-Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Like Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch on the Chevy side, the Toyota winner for both the Paint Schemie and Leaderboard was decided by a coin flip. More modern than the 55, all these schemes are good, with amazing paint schemes and really good design.

#6-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 This team combines classic and modern looks, and uses Petty Blue very effectively. The Transportation Impact scheme was not good at all, and kept the 43 team out of the top spot.  Extra Credit for the Maurice Petty Tribute Scheme.

#7-BK Racing #83 Great designs all around, but the hood needs work. Why is it black when the rest of the car is red?

#8-BK Racing #93 See Above, but the Old Dominion scheme drags it down.

#9-Penske Racing #12-Though only raced for one race, the SKF design worked very well. A great color and great design scheme. If this had been raced for multiple races, I would have ranked it higher, but it is still a solid scheme.

#10-Richard Childress Racing #29 The Bad Boy Buggies scheme is bad, and the Rheem/Budweiser combo scheme is awful, but aside from those, Kevin Harvick has had a very good season, paint scheme wise

#11-Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #42 Get rid of the Axe Apollo scheme and the Camouflage scheme, and Juan Pablo Montoya would have the top spot.

#12-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 This set earned a place in the top 5 because it improved by a lot over the course of the season. It has a great color scheme, but the early schemes were not great, but since Stanley redesigned their logo, and made some changes to the car, it is a very nice set.

#13-Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott #51 Guy Roofing and Hendrick Cars are hideous, but apart from that, they have run a great set of paint schemes. Bonus points given for the Neil Bonnett throwback scheme.

#14-Michael Waltrip Racing #56 The Get Back and Give Back scheme is horrid, but the rest of the schemes are really good.

#15-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Most of what they ran this year was great, but the Bushes Baked Beans car has an odd overall design, and a weird color scheme. The Clorox scheme has a bad color scheme, as does the Charter scheme, as does the Wounded Warrior Project scheme.

#16-Roush Fenway Racing #17 A pinkwashing scheme as well as the Valvoline NexGen scheme kick Ricky Stenhouse Jr. out of the top spot. Sad thing too, as Ricky had a very solid year when it comes to paint schemes

#17-Joe Gibbs Racing #81 Alert Energy is awful. Double Mint is awesome.

#18-Penske Racing #2 While I miss the beer colored wheels from last year, Keselowski has had a decent year, the color scheme is great, though there is too much white on the car. The Redd’s Apple Ale scheme was great, but the Fan Mosaic and Patriotic schemes need some work.

#19-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Greg Biffle had a lot of great schemes, but he had a number of awful ones , including a pinkwashing scheme as well. Get rid of the pinkwashing scheme, the Scotchguard, give blood, and Megulars schemes, and he would be in the top 5.

#20-Richard Childress Racing #27 The yellow is too bright, but other than that, the schemes are really good.

#21-Stewart Haas Racing #14 Some of these schemes are good, others not so much.

#22Hendrick Motorsports #88 Dale Jr. runs good schemes most of the time, but Soldiers of Steel, Orange Amp Energy, and Camouflage are just brutal. Additional points lost for a pinkwashing scheme.

#23-Joe Gibbs Racing #20 If the Dollar General was more plain, and did not have the orange back, I would love to give Matt Kenseth a higher spot, and a pinkwashing scheme does not help.

#24-Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #1 Bad Boy Buggies is even worse here, and the Bass Pro Shop schemes are awful. A number of good schemes here as well.

#25-FAS Lane Racing #32 The Oxy Water scheme, and the gray scale C&J Energy Services schemes do not work, but the rest of the schemes they ran do

#26-Front Row Motorsports #38 The template they run works very well when the color scheme matches that of the sponsor. When it doesn’t match, it looks awful.

#27-Front Row Motorsports #35, See above

#28-Front Row Motorsports #34, See above, aside from the CSX scheme, which looks great, and the Peanut Patch scheme which looks awful.

#29-Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 This team looks better without a primary sponsor than they do with one.

#30-Max Q Motorsports #37 Simple, yet attractive. Would be higher if they ran more races.

#31-Joe Gibbs Racing #11 The Jason Leffler tribute scheme and the FedEx delivery manager schemes are great, but the rest are just awful. I miss the Gen 5 schemes

#32-Nemco Racing #87 The word that can best describe this set is dull. Not bad, but not spectacular.

#33-Circle Team Sport #40 Interstate Moving is really good. Moon Shine Attitude Attire is really awful, and their pinkwashing scheme is even worse.

#34-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Geek Squad and Fastenal work well, the rest…not so much.

#35-Richard Childress Racing #31 A few good schemes but most of them are mediocre at best.

#36-Hendrick Motorsports #24 See Above

#37-Stewart Haas Racing #10 Worst shades of yellow in NASCAR, and the pinkwashing scheme is so much worse.

#38-Michael Waltrip Racing #15 Clint has consistently run cars with great color schemes, but awful designs. Except for Duck Dynasty, and pinkwashing, which are just hideous.

#39-Humphrey Smith Racing #19 Another car that just looks better without a primary sponsor.

#40-Germain Racing #13 Nothing really wrong, but nothing really right with these schemes.

#41-Penske Racing #22 Red and yellow is a really great color scheme, but the design is all wrong. This design gets even worse with the AAA scheme, which has an even better color scheme. The Pennzoil scheme is good, but not good enough to save the set.

#42-Stewart Haas Racing #39 I have to give them credit, their schemes are mostly awful, but at least they are creative.

#43-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Worst. Door. Number. Ever. The rest of the car isn’t good either, and a pinkwashing scheme doesn’t help.

#44-Phil Parsons Racing# 98 The schemes come in one of two food groups, bland or awful. Great colors, but the designs are horrid.

#45-Levine Family Racing #95 Worst template in NASCAR.

#46-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Innovation can be a bad thing. This, for example is what happens when you let Karl Benjamin design your cars.

#47-Circle Sport/RCR #33 It amazes me how two different teams can use the same car number, and both can put awful designs on their cars. Special credit for the Honey Nut Cheerios scheme, which is just horrific.

#48-Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Yuck.

#49-Hamilton-Means Racing #52 Paulie Harraka had a great scheme, but Brian Keselowski…not so much.

#50-Swan Racing #30/26 Please tell me this is an experiment on how to make the worst paint scheme in history? Is Swan Racing competing with Travis Pastrana for the most obnoxious paint scheme in NASCAR?

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Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 3- Toyota

By David G. Firestone

The Paint Scheme Leaderboard continues with Toyota today. This has been a stressful series, and it will be even more so next week, when I rank all 50 teams in order from best to worst. Enough complaining, on to the schemes.

#1 Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Simple traditional designs. That is the secret to their success on the leaderboard. Color schemes are great as well. Nothing wrong with these schemes.

#2 Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Like Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch on the Chevy side, the Toyota winner for both the Paint Schemie and Leaderboard was decided by a coin flip. More modern than the 55, all these schemes are good, with amazing paint schemes and really good design.

#3 BK Racing #83 Great designs all around, but the hood needs work. Why is it black when the rest of the car is red?

#4 BK Racing #93 See Above, but the Old Dominion scheme drags it down.

#5 Michael Waltrip Racing #56 The Get Back and Give Back scheme is horrid, but the rest of the schemes are really good.

#6 JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Most of what they ran this year was great, but the Bushes Baked Beans car has an odd overall design, and a weird color scheme. The Clorox scheme has a bad color scheme, as does the Charter scheme, as does the Wounded Warrior Project scheme.

#7 Joe Gibbs Racing #81 Alert Energy is awful. Double Mint is awesome.

#8 Joe Gibbs Racing #20 If the Dollar General was more plain, and did not have the orange back, I would love to give Matt Kenseth a higher spot, and a pinkwashing scheme does not help.

#9 Joe Gibbs Racing #11 The Jason Leffler tribute scheme and the FedEx delivery manager schemes are great, but the rest are just awful. I miss the Gen 5 schemes

#10 Nemco Racing #87 The word that can best describe this set is dull. Not bad, but not spectacular.

#11 Michael Waltrip Racing #15 Clint has consistently run cars with great color schemes, but awful designs. Except for Duck Dynasty, and pinkwashing, which are just hideous.

#12 Humphrey Smith Racing #19 Another car that just looks better without a primary sponsor.

#13 Hamilton-Means Racing #52 Paulie Harraka had a great scheme, but Brian Keselowski…not so much.

#14 Swan Racing #30/26 Please tell me this is an experiment on how to make the worst paint scheme in history? Is Swan Racing competing with Travis Pastrana for the most obnoxious paint scheme in NASCAR?

Next Week, The big finale, all 49 teams ranked from best to worst!

Some Issues with the New Gen 6 Car

By David G. Firestone

I would like to discuss some issues that have come up in recent weeks with the new Gen 6 car. These issues seem minor, but with this new car, they need to be addressed. And because these issues are issues, it leads to a conclusion that is kind of stunning in my mind.

Two issues revolve around Denny Hamilin. The first is his $25,000 fine for “criticizing the product.” and I’ll get to that in just a minute. The other one is his massive L1 Compression fracture that he suffered at Fontana. This injury should never have happened, but it did. The Gen 5 cars, as unattractive as they were design-wise, were safety-focused. The discussion on how safe they were ended with Michael McDowell’s scary wreck during qualifying at Texas in 2008. The car suffered serious damage, but McDowell was unhurt. This wreck was just as bad, but Hamlin is out of the car until he is fully healed.

NASCAR needs to be safety-focused, putting driver and fan safety before anything else. The fact that Denny has an L1 compression fracture because of a wreck is proof that there is a lot of room for improvement in the Gen 6 car. That isn’t the only issue with the car that needs to be addressed. The car seems to change with each race. At a super speedway, the spoiler is lower than it is at other tracks. At intermediate tracks the roof cameras are not used for reasons that have yet to be explained to the general public. It almost seems as though NASCAR is making the rules up as they go along. Please pick a design and setup and stick with it.

The other issue that needs to be discussed is penalties surrounding the new car. Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for saying that the car has room for improvement. Why was he fined for that? I understand that the car was designed by many different people, who put a lot of time and effort into it, but here is the thing…the people who designed the car are not the ones who are the focal point of racing, the driver is. If the drivers are complaining about the car not being competitive, and not driving the way it is supposed to, it should be addressed. The Gen 4 and Gen 5 cars went through a lot of refining, and so should the Gen 6 car.

One penalty that was issued was to Penske Racing for having suspension parts unapproved by NASCAR. Although all of Ford’s engines come from Roush Yates, many teams use their own designs for equipment used in the car. As such, these parts have to be approved by NASCAR. Obviously these parts weren’t approved. Yet Penske, Brad Keselwoski, and Joey Logano are swearing up and down that they were legal, and working in a gray area. If the parts are unapproved, they are unapproved.

The other major penalty was to Matt Kenseth for having a connector rod that was 3 grams under the minimum weight required by NASCAR. My concern with this issue is that the engine in question came from Toyota Racing Development. TRD knows what the rules and regulations are, and they knew what the parts should have been. I do not believe for a second that of the people involved with making the engine, not one of them knew didn’t realize that the parts were illegal. They knew what it was, and they sent it out anyway. That brings up an important question. 8 teams in the Sprint Cup work with TRD. In total that accounts for 10 different teams. Each team has a primary and backup car. There is also an additional engine at the teams disposal. So for each Toyota team there are 3 engines for use. If Matt Kenseth is running illegal equipment, who else is?

On to paint schemes…

Brad Keselowski #2 Redd’s Apple Ale Ford Fusion Black and Red is always a good scheme, and the overall design is good. The sticking point for me with this scheme is that APPLE ALE is almost invisible on the quarter panel. So for a final grade, it gets a B-

Tony Stewart #14 National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS Good color scheme and overall design, but the major issue I have is with the NATIONAL WILD TURKEY being on a curve and not as visible It gets a B-

Jeff Gordon #24 AARP Chase Card Chevy SS The color and designs are all over the place, and the giant credit card on the hood is pretty ugly. Not good at all, F

Kevin Harvick Bell Helicopters Chevy SS A simple design with a good color scheme. Not much else to say other than good job, and it gets an A grade.

Jeff Burton #31 Airgas-Bulwark Chevy SS Meh. That sums it up. Uninspired color scheme, and bland design give it a mediocre look and a C- grade.

Jeff Burton #31 American Ethanol Chevy SS Good color scheme and design. A-

David Ragan #34 CSX Play It Safe Ford Fusion This is a very solid scheme, with great colors, great design and an overall great look. CSX did this scheme very well and it gets an A+

JJ Yeley #36 NASCAR Day Chevy SS Another simple yet attractive scheme that works very well. Nothing more to say than great job, and enjoy your A grade.

David Gilliland #38 EZ Pawn Ford Fusion Good color scheme though the design is a bit over complex. As such it gets a B+.

Ryan Newman #39 Code 3 Associates Chevy SS Ok, you can have either flames OR a racing stripe, but not both. Because the combo takes a good design and makes it into a horrible design. The only thing giving this scheme a passing grade is the color scheme being as good as it is, but it earns a D-

Bobby Labonte #47 Pine Sol Toyota Camry Yet another simple yet amazing good scheme that earns an A grade!

Elliot Sadler #81 Alert Energy Gum Toyota Camry A good scheme with a consistent design and a decent color scheme that earns a B+ grade.

Travis Kvapil #93 Dominion Raceway Toyota Camry Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that a speedway that doesn’t exist yet is sponsoring a car for one race? That aside, the door design needs work, but the color scheme is solid, and I give it a B-