Paint Scheme Leaderboard-Week 4, The Grand Finale

By David G. Firestone

The Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee meetings have been long, but not too contentious, I can’t stay mad at Alejandro when he shows me his belly, so now we present all 55 NASCAR Sprint Cup teams ranked from first to last on how their paint schemes looked. NR has a different meaning this week. NR now specifically referrs to teams that didn’t exist in 2013. Teams that ran different manufacturers in 2013 will be ranked when it came to last year. So, without further ado,

1-Wood Brothers #21 Rank Last Year:1st of 50 -The Wood Brothers always design great cars, and the Quick Lane scheme uses the blue very well. It all looks good!

2-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Rank Last Year:2nd of 50-Classic, smooth looks with no needless clutter. Jimmie always runs great schemes

3-Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Rank Last Year:3rd of 50-The color schemes are good, and the design schemes work very well.

4-Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Rank Last Year:5th of 50-The zebra stripe Interstate Battery scheme wrecks a perfect score for Kyle this year

5-Stewart Haas Racing #4 Rank Last Year:NR-With the exception of Hunt Brothers Pizza, which uses an awful shade of green, Kevin has consistently run a series of great schemes.

6-Team Penske #2 Rank Last Year:18th of 50-The Wurth and Redd’s Apple Ale schemes are a bit over designed, but the white Miller Lite schemes, Alliance Truck Parts, and Detroit Genuine Parts schemes make up for it.

7-Richard Childress Racing #31 Rank Last Year:35th of 50-A lot of great schemes this year, but Wix is overdone, and the Cat/Quicken Loans hybrid looks awful

8-BK Racing #23 Rank Last Year:NR-The Dip Your Car scheme is awful, but the rest of the schemes are very good, and are very attractive.

9-Stewart Haas Racing #41 Rank Last Year: NR-The Slate scheme does not work, but all the other schemes work very well.

10-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Rank Last Year:NR-This would be ranked higher, as it has a somewhat vintage look, but the candy cane on the nose looks odd. It’s still a good scheme.

11-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Rank Last Year:6th of 50-The Ekcrich camouflage scheme doesn’t work, camouflage schemes rarely do. The Charter green is horrible, but the rest of the schemes look really good.

12-Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Rank Last Year:24th of 50-A pink-washing scheme and a terrible shade of green on the WEMO scheme cost this team the 2nd place spot,knocking them down to 5th. They have run a lot of great schemes this season

13-Levine Family Racing #95 Rank Last Year:45th of 50-The TWD schemes look medicore, but could be worse. The template Levine Family Racing switched too this year looks great and the cars look very good too.

14-Furniture Row Racing #78 Rank Last Year:4th of 50-The World Vision scheme needs work, as the color does not support a fade, but the Furniture Row, and Colorado Freedom Memorial work very well.

15-BK Racing #26 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-Bully Hill Vinyards is an over-designed joke with an awful color scheme. The yellow numbers on the Burger King scheme are awful, but the rest of the schemes are good, and defendable.

16-RAB Racing #29 Rank Last Year:NR-Good color scheme, mediocre design scheme.

17-Hendrick Motorsports #88 Rank Last Year:22nd of 50-National Guard, Mountain Dew, Kickstart, and Superman look good, and work well with the new number design, but Michael Baker, Kelly Blue Book, and Nationwide don’t at all.

18-Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Rank Last Year:11th of 50-While Cottonelle, the Silver Scheme, and Energizer work very well, but the rest of their schemes are mediocre at best. The white on the back doesn’t work.

19-Beard Oil Racing #75 Rank Last Year:NR-If the sides had a sponsor, and the stripe at the bottom was eliminated, it would work a lot better.

20-Front Row Motorsports #34 Rank Last Year:28th of 50-The majority of the schemes look great, but the upside down lettering on the hood of the CSX scheme looks odd. The Wendell Scott scheme is amazing!

21-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Rank Last Year:15th of 50-While Bush’s, Clorox, Scott’s, Sullivan/Palatek, Kingsford, and Bush’s Grilling Beans work well,Kroger/USO is overdone, Charter Communications uses a horrid shade of green, and Hungry Jack just looks terrible.

22-Hendrick Motorsports #24 Rank Last Year: 36th of 50-Drive to end Hunger is too overdone, and the upside down D on the hood looks terrible. Their orange scheme is even worse. Panasonic is mediocre at best. Pepsi looks good, and all of the Axalta schemes are really good.

23-Humphery Racing #77 Rank Last Year:NR-Plinker Arms doesn’t look great but it could be worse. That applies to Essex Homes as well. The rest of the schemes look good.

24-Joe Gibbs Racing #11 Rank Last Year:31st of 50-The Autisim Speaks scheme works well. The zipper scheme is decent, but odd. Sport Clips is over-designed, but with a good color scheme. The FedEx schemes have decent color schemes, but are over-designed on the front.

25-BK Racing #83 Rank Last Year:7th of 50-Voo Doo Barbecue is an over-designed mess. Dip your car is terrible, as is Zak. Burger King and Borla work well though.

26-Team Penske #12 Rank Last Year:9th of 50-The SKF scheme works very well. The Penske Truck Rental scheme uses a horrible shade of orange, and just looks hideous.

27-Hillman Racing #40 Rank Last Year: NR-When the car doesn’t have a scheme, it looks very good. When it has a sponsor it looks awful.

28-Front Row Motorsports #35 Rank Last Year:27th of 50-The Hefty scheme is a little unorthodox, silver and orange isn’t a great combo, but the design looks good. MDS looks good

29-HScott Motorsports #52 Rank Last Year: NR-The black scheme is good, but the orange Florida Lottery scheme is a trainwreck. Less is more on a paint scheme.

30-HScott Motorsports #51 Rank Last Year:13th of 50-If the car is running a Brandt scheme it looks good, anything else looks terrible.

31-Phil Parsons Racing #98 Rank Last Year: 44th of 50-While I like the Dogecoin,Trench Shoring,iRacing, black Curb Records, and unsponsored black schemes, anything else looks horrendous.

32-Front Row Motorsports #38 Rank Last Year:26th of 50-Most of the schemes are good, but the Love’s Truck Stops, and Love’s Truck Stops Camo schemes are horrific.

33-Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Rank Last Year:23rd of 50-Can all be summed up with medicore color schemes and mediocre design schemes

34-Swan Racing #30 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-The only time the car looked good was when it was unsponsored, but compared to last year’s design it looks amazing!

35-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Rank Last Year:16th of 50-Eco-Power has awful shades of green. Pit for a pair is awful even for a pink-washing scheme. Zest has a good color scheme, but awful design scheme,as does Fifth-Third Bank. Their all-star scheme was terrible. Ford Eco-Boost, NOS, and Nationwide work very well.

36-Richard Childress Racing #27 Rank Last Year: 20th of 50-Neon yellow looks terrible, when they use the stripes on the sides it looks even worse. The Pittsburgh Paints scheme looks really good though.

37-BK Racing #93 Rank Last Year:8th of 50-The Support Millitary scheme is the worst, and although Burger King, Dr. Pepper, and Iowa City Chop House do make up for it, it just isn’t enough.

38-CircleSport/Richard Childress Racing #33 Rank Last Year: 47th of 50-

39-Tommy Baldwin Racing #37 Rank Last Year: NR-Accell Construction has a great color scheme, but the design scheme ruins it.

40-Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 Rank Last Year:29th of 50-Another example of a team where when the car is unsponsored, it looks better.

41-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Rank Last Year:12th of 50-Can all be summed up with Great color schemes but mediocre design schemes. The camo scheme looks bad, but the upside is that the camo is subtle.

42-Team Penske #22 Rank Last Year:41st of 50-The Shell/Pennzoil scheme has a decent color scheme but a bad design scheme. Anything Pennzoil Platnum is awful, as is Auto Trader. The Auto Club scheme has a great color scheme but a bad design scheme.

43-Identity Ventures Racing #87 Rank Last Year:NR-300 is a mess, and Morris,Hardick and Schinder/SmartBen looks too dull.

44-Michael Waltrip Racing #15 Rank Last Year:38th of 50-The Peak scheme is defendable, the color scheme is good, but the rest of the schemes are just awful.

45-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Rank Last Year:34th of 50-Fastenal looks good, but anything else looks terrible.

46-Go FAS Racing #32 Rank Last Year:25th of 50-The Terry Labonte throwback scheme was amazing, but most of their other schemes are over-designed messes.

47-Stewart Haas Racing #14 Rank Last Year:21st of 50-The over designing of the Bass Pro Shops schemes, as well as the use of orange and camo just look horrible. Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers, and Code 3 look decent, but to some extent have issues. Mobil 1 is over designed, Rush uses too dark a yellow, Code 3 uses too bright a yellow.

48-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Rank Last Year:43rd of 50-Allstate Peterbuilt, and Pilot-St Jude Children’s Network work well, as both have good color schemes and design schemes. Anything else just looks awful.

49-Richard Childress Racing #3 Rank Last Year:NR-Cheerios is very good, and has a classic look. Dow schemes have a great color scheme, but have mediocre design. Anything else looks terrible on this car.

50-Germain Racing #13 Rank Last Year:40th of 50-The blue is too bright, as is the yellow. The car is overdesigned, and the whole car looks like a mess. The camo scheme is much worse.

51-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Rank Last Year:46th of 50-The only half decent scheme is Pepsi. Everything else is an over designed mess.

52-Stewart Haas Racing #10 Rank Last Year:37th of 50-The only scheme that doesn’t make my eyes hurt here is Aspen Dental. Terrible shades of orange and green, with ugly design. The pink-washing scheme is terrible.

53-Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Rank Last Year: 49th of 50-Every single one of their cars is an ugly, over-designed mess that doesn’t look good at all.

54-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Rank Last Year:19th of 50-Every scheme is terrible.

55-Michael Waltrip Racing #66 Rank Last Year:NR-Nothing about any of these schemes is good.

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Paint Scheme Leaderboard-Week #2-Ford

Ford

By David G. Firestone

Last Week, Chevy teams were ranked. This week, the Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee, made up of myself, and Alejandro my black cat have determined how Ford’s teams will be ranked. Alejandro was slightly more useful this week, keeping my leg warm while he slept. As with last week, teams that did not exist or did not run Fords last year will be marked with NR for Not Ranked.

1-Wood Brothers #21 Rank Last Year:1st of 17-The Wood Brothers always design great cars, and the Quick Lane scheme uses the blue very well. It all looks good!

2-Team Penske #2 Rank Last Year:6th of 17-The Wurth and Redd’s Apple Ale schemes are a bit over designed, but the white Miller Lite schemes, Alliance Truck Parts, and Detroit Genuine Parts schemes make up for it.

3-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Rank Last Year:NR-This would be ranked higher, as it has a somewhat vintage look, but the candy cane on the nose looks odd. It’s still a good scheme.

4-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Rank Last Year:2nd of 17-The Ekcrich camouflage scheme doesn’t work, camouflage schemes rarely do. The Charter green is horrible, but the rest of the schemes look really good.

5-Levine Family Racing #95 Rank Last Year:16th of 17-The TWD schemes look medicore, but could be worse. The template Levine Family Racing switched too this year looks great and the cars look very good too.

6-Front Row Motorsports #34 Rank Last Year:11th of 17-The majority of the schemes look great, but the upside down lettering on the hood of the CSX scheme looks odd. The Wendell Scott scheme is amazing!

7-Humphery Racing #77 Rank Last Year:NR-Plinker Arms doesn’t look great but it could be worse. That applies to Essex Homes as well. The rest of the schemes look good.

8-Front Row Motorsports #35 Rank Last Year:10th of 17-The Hefty scheme is a little unorthodox, silver and orange isn’t a great combo, but the design looks good. MDS looks good.

9-Team Penske #12 Rank Last Year:3rd of 17-The SKF scheme works very well. The Penske Truck Rental scheme uses a horrible shade of orange, and just looks hideous.

10-Phil Parsons Racing #98 Rank Last Year: 15th of 17-While I like the Dogecoin,Trench Shoring,iRacing, black Curb Records, and unsponsored black schemes, anything else looks horrendous.

11-Front Row Motorsports #38 Rank Last Year:9th of 17-Most of the schemes are good, but the Love’s Truck Stops, and Love’s Truck Stops Camo schemes are horrific.

12-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Rank Last Year:5th of 17-Eco-Power has awful shades of green. Pit for a pair is awful even for a pink-washing scheme. Zest has a good color scheme, but awful design scheme,as does Fifth-Third Bank. Their all-star scheme was terrible. Ford Eco-Boost, NOS, and Nationwide work very well.

13-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Rank Last Year:4th of 17-Can all be summed up with Great color schemes but mediocre design schemes. The camo scheme looks bad, but the upside is that the camo is subtle.

14-Team Penske #22 Rank Last Year:14th of 17-The Shell/Pennzoil scheme has a decent color scheme but a bad design scheme. Anything Pennzoil Platnum is awful, as is Auto Trader. The Auto Club scheme has a great color scheme but a bad design scheme.

15-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Rank Last Year:12th of 17-Fastenal looks good, but anything else looks terrible.

16-Go FAS Racing #32 Rank Last Year:8th of 17-The Terry Labonte throwback scheme was amazing, but most of their other schemes are over-designed messes.

17-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Rank Last Year:7th of 17-Every scheme is terrible.

Ford is in the rearview mirror, but next week we move on to Toyota!

The End of An Era in Evanston

DSCN0972By David G. Firestone

We all have at least one place that we always remember fondly from our childhood. It could be a restaurant, a park, the home of a close friend, or family member, or a park. We all have at least one, probably many. It is always sad when one of these places goes away. Well this happened to me this last week, when an Evanston institution began the process of moving.

Tom Thumb in Downtown Evanston was a place that I and a number of my friends spent a great deal of our childhood. Some of us were skateboarders, some of us were RC car fanatics, some of us, like me were model builders and die cast collectors. It had been in the same place for 49 years, but they announced that they were going to move after a zoning decision was made to replace the current building with a two-story building for two restaurants. So, on July 12, after 49 years as an Evanston institution, it closed. I went there on the 12, and made, with a heavy heart, my last purchase.photo 2 photo 1This was a sad day because I am a huge NASCAR fan, and for many years, Tom Thumb was the only store in Evanston that sold NASCAR stuff. It was also one of, if not the oldest skate shop in the midwest. I went there, looked around the store where I spend my childhood, took it all in, and bought my last purchase, this 1997 Darrell Waltrip 25th Anniversary set.DSCN0972I bought this for two reasons. The first is that I love this set, I remember many of these schemes from races I watched in 1997. They all look really good, and they bring back memories. The second reason, and I didn’t even think about this until I started doing some work for next week. During my research, I was grumbling about how many different paint schemes each car runs every week, and it dawned on me that this might be the first example of that in the Sprint Cup Series.

You never had this much variety in paint schemes before 1997. Each team ran one scheme for the majority of the season, maybe 2 or 3 different schemes and special schemes for the All-Star race, and possibly the Busch Clash. But Darrell Waltrip ran, in total, 7 different schemes, each based on a specific era in his career. Each had Western Auto Parts America as the primary sponsor, but were based for past sponsors. He started with Gatorade, which he ran for DiGard Motorsports, from 1975-1980. He won two Coca Cola 600’s(1978, 1979) a Winston 500(1977) the Southern 500(1978,1979)as well as 22 other races during that time.DSCN0990In 1981, he left DiGard for Junior Johnson Motorsports, and was sponsored by Mountain Dew, where he won 24 races including the 1982 Winston 500, the 1981 Busch Clash, and two of his three Sprint Cup ChampionshipsDSCN0991Pepsi replaced Mountain Dew and created The Pepsi Challenger which he ran in 1983 for Junior Johnson. He won 6 races for PepsiDSCN0992After Pepsi left, Budweiser took over the sponsorship, and from 1984-1986, he won 13 races, the 1985 Winston Cup Championship, the Inagural All-Star Race in 1985, the 1985 Southern 500, and the Winston 500. I find love how they call it “Red” instead of Budweiser since this was marketed to kids at the time.DSCN0993In 1987, he made the move to Hendrick Motorsports, and picked up Tide as a sponsor. He won the 1989 Daytona 500, The 1988 and 1989 Coca Cola 600’s and 6 other races. I loved that it was identical to the scheme used by Ricky Rudd that same season.DSCN0994From 1990-1997, he raced the #17 for Hendrick Motorsports in 1990, and then founded Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, which raced this scheme from 1990 to 1997. He won 5 races, but was never to get his former glory back. Western Auto left the team after 1997, and Darrell Waltrip Motorsports shut down shortly after the start of the 1998 season.DSCN0995The last scheme is one of the most innovative schemes in the history of NASCAR. His legendary Chrome scheme.  Darrell loved chrome, using chrome numbers, and a chrome helmet.  This was supposed to be used for just a single race, but it was raced a number of times that season. Nothing like this had ever been done in NASCAR before. There had been chrome numbers, but never a chrome car. This car was so far ahead of it’s time.  Darrell even had a Chrome driver suit that he wore with this car!DSCN09961997 would be the beginning of the end for Darrell Waltrip. He shut down his Winston Cup team in 1998, and joined Dale Earnhardt Inc. midway through the season. He would race for just two more seasons before fully retiring in 2000.

The idea of 7 different schemes seems like standard opperating procedure today, but back in 1997, this was revolutionary. This was unheard of. These schemes were all good, and they worked well, but this surprised some fans. 17 years later, this is the norm rather than the exception. If I did the paint scheme reveiws back in 1997, I would write one article at the beginning of the season, one before the all-star race, and maybe one midway through the season. There were no changes to paint scheme, or if there were, they were very rare.

Tom Thumb will reopen eventually. But whavever the new location, it will never have the same feel as the decades old building were it was once housed. I will miss it. I really will. But I find a bit of irony in that I bought the beginning of an era at the end of another era. I will visit Tom Thumb when they reopen, and I wish them the best of luck. From the residents of Evanston to Tom Thumb, we will miss you, and we wish you the best of luck in your new location!

We also have a paint scheme related news item to discuss.  This last week, NASCAR announced that the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup would have some new features on their cars.  Specifically,  all Chase contenders will have a yellow splitter cover, a yellow window stripe with black letters, yellow roof numbers, and a special Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup decal.  I’ve been speculalting that this might come to be, and now I have proof.  I am not going to discuss how I think it will look, until I have a good idea as to who is in the Chase, and how it will look on their cars.  Here is an illustration of how it looks.

With that out of the way, we move on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevy SS Another case where it looks like two different designers created the car without speaking to each other. It looks awful. The color scheme is good, so it passes, though just bearly with a D-

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Chevy SS For a Bass Pro Shops scheme it looks really good. It isn’t over designed, has a nice patriotic touch, and has a good color scheme. A+

Clint Bowyer #15 RK Motors Charlotte Toyota Camry Clint’s C scheme but with an even worse color scheme ends in a D-

Greg Biffle #16 3M Throwback Ford Fusions Greg Biffle is holding a contest to pick a throwback sheme for his race at Pocono in August. I would normally grade all four of these seperatley, however they all have the same traits, so I will grade them at once. All four have really good color schemes, and really nice logos, but they are all plagues with modern car numbers as well as modern designs. They simply look awful. I will vote for none of these schemes and give them all an F-

Trevor Bayne #21 QuickLane Ford Fusion A really good design with a really good color scheme. It works very well, A+

Cole Whitt #26 Scorpion Window Film Toyota Camry Good color scheme, good design, though the silver stripe on the bottom is a bit much. A-

Paul Menard #27 Menards/Splash Chevy SS The Splash logo looks really good, and I’ll give it a B+

Joe Nemechek #29 Toyota Cares Toyota Camry Great color scheme, awful design, they average out to a C-

Morgan Shepherd #33 ThunderCoal Chevy SS I liked the other ThunderCoal scheme, but this is just awful. Too many neon colors, and it is needlessly overdesigned. I give it an F

Alex Kennedy #33 MediaCAST Chevy SS Awful color scheme and way too over designed. F

Landon Cassill #40 Gallery Furniture Chevy SS Great color scheme, great simple design, though the 40 could be brighter. A

Kyle Larson #42 Cottonelle Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design A+

Michael Waltrip #66 Royal Teak Toyota Camry Good color scheme, great simple design, A+

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Worldvision Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design, I love that fade, looks great. A+

Ryan Truex #83 Voodoo/Armed Forces Motorsports Toyota Camry A D+ scheme with a new hood logo is still a D+ scheme.

Michael McDowell #95 JPO Absorbents Ford Fusion Another great Levine Family Racing scheme. It is hard to believe how bad they were last year. Great color and design scheme equals an A+ scheme.

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion They took a D- scheme, and made it worse. Awful color scheme, awful design, F-

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?

Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 1-Ford

By David G. Firestone

I started ranking all the teams last week, with the Paint Schemie Awards, and I figured I would continue this week with the Paint Scheme Leaderboard. The concept is that over the next 4 weeks, I will rank all the drivers by team. The rules are the same as the Paint Schemies, and I will rank the teams, first by Manufacturer, and then by all the teams running the Sprint Cup Series. A random drawing has Ford going first, followed by Chevy next week, and then Toyota the following week. The last week, will be all 50 teams that ran in the Sprint Cup Series this year.

So, without further ado, let’s look at how Ford’s NASCAR teams fared in the paint scheme world this year:

#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-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.

#3 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.

#4 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.

#5 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.

#6 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, pinkwashing, and Patriotic schemes need some work.

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

#8 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.

#9 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.

#10 Front Row Motorsports #35, See above

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

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

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

#14 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.

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

#16 Levine Family Racing #95 Worst template in NASCAR.

#17 Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Yuck.

Next Week, the Chevy Leaderboard!

The Helmet Stripe-An Unusual Place For Sponsorship

By David G. Firestone14A

Last week, I had a column run on Uni-Watch, and I delayed this article until this week.  Two weeks ago, we discussed visors, this week, we will discuss what has become known as the “helmet stripe.” Helmet stripes came from IndyCar and Formula 1 cars, which are open cockpit cars. Helmets are clearly visible to television cameras and fans. As a direct result, helmet design in Formula 1 has become its own unique art form. Helmet designs become a part of the driver identity. The other thing that these open cockpits allow is for sponsorship opportunity. As such, a small opaque stripe is used on helmet visors.lepage-3

In NASCAR, the visor was slow to arrive. This is due to two reasons, first, many drivers up until the mid 1990’s chose to wear open-faced helmets. While these helmets had a shade to help keep the sun out of a driver’s eyes. While sponsor logos do show up, they were used for the driver’s name. This Brad Noffsinger example from 1988 is an example of that.Noffsinger-4

The second reason that helmet stripes were slow to come to NASCAR is that in-car cameras, while used, were for many years positioned in such a way that the visor would not be seen. Even if helmets were painted, the visor had no stripe. When the in-car cameras were positioned to film the driver from the side and even from the front, the helmet stripe became the standard. The stripe is designed to fit over the part of the visor that overlaps the opaque part of the helmet, as this example shows.musgrave2 musgrave3

Helmet stripes have become standard. To show how it affects the overall look of the helmet, I took this Kevin Lepage helmet from 1999, and edited the pictures to show how it looks. lepage-2  lepage-4  lepage-6

Not bad, but let’s compare it side by side to the original helmet…lepage-7 lepage-8 lepage-9

Helmet stripes have become a unique way for a driver to customize a helmet, as this video shows: Facebook pages and Twitter helmets are becoming standard on these. All visors that a driver would wear on a helmet have these stripes, which is standard, as visors are changed on a regular basis, and sponsors want the advertising space that they pay for.

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Because of the Uni-Watch article last week, I didn’t get to review paint schemes.  Within the last couple of weeks there were a large number of 2014 paint schemes released. Now I know that many of these will change before the start of the 2014 season, but I will grade them anyways.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion  Same scheme as this year, same grade, C

Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Chevy SS Same Scheme as last year, same grade, A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy John’s Chevy SS  They improved one of the best schemes in NASCAR and went from an A to A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Outback Steakhouse Chevy SS The color scheme remains the same but red takes over from beige as the primary color, which gives the car a great look, and an A grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips Chevy SS Same scheme as this year, same D+ grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Pepsi Max Cheyv SS Same scheme as last year, same F grade

Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Ford Fusion Great color scheme, though the nose, and quarter panel design are over done. Even still, I give it a B-

Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWalt/Stanley Ford Fusion See Above

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy SS I get that two companies with different desgin schemes are sharing the car, but this is just brutal to look at. The orange and camo contrast is hideous, and the overall design is overdone. C-

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shop Chevy SS The white and black contrast just looks awful! I really hope this changes before the season starts, because this is a scheme that is painful to look at. I have to give it an F

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy SS As bad of a color scheme as this is, it is certainly better than the other two Tony Stewart schemes are. That said, the color scheme warrants an F while the design warrants an A, so I’ll split the difference and give it a C

Greg Biffle #16 3M Ford Fusion This scheme is a MAJOR improvement over this year’s design! All of the pointless noise on the door is gone, and the car has a very smooth look because of it, and I have to give this design an A

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Nationwide Insurance Ford Fusion Great color and design schemes, though the white on light blue lettering and logos are hard to see. Even still, I have to give it an A-

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same grade, D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion  See Above

Jeff Gordon #24 Pepsi Max Chevy SS I gave this scheme a C-, but given the *ahem* other Pepsi Max scheme, I’ve reconsidered, and I will give this scheme a B

Ryan Newman #31 Caterpillar Chevy SS  An improvement on an already good scheme, A+

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion If the hood and front were done in the stars design, and the rest of the car was red and white striped, it would look better, and I would be able to give it more than a C+

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS Supposidly, this will be the main scheme for the whole season, and I have to say it looks amazing, and is an A+ grade

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes/Kobalt Chevy SS This will be run for a few races, and it is an A+ scheme.

Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same A grade

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion No redeeming features whatsoever, F-`

Now on to new 2013 paint schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Auburn University Chevy SS The white hood and roof just look aukward, compared to the black covering the rest of the car.  That said, it is still a decent scheme, and I’ll give it a B

Dave Blaney #7 Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F

Marcos Ambrose #9 Bostitch Ford Fusion The 2014 scheme is previewed here, and I’ll give it the same B- grade I gave the 2014 scheme.

Landon Cassill #33 T-Mone Chevy SS This is a perfect example as to why only one person should design a car.  It looks like it took at least 3 people to design the car, each with a different idea as to what the car should look like.  And in the end it is just a mess, and not even a good color scheme can give this scheme a passing grade.  F

David Ragan #34 Safercar.gov Ford Fusion  See Above. F

JJ Yeley #36 United Mining Equipment Chevy SS Even if I didn’t give pinkwashing schemes an automatic F, this scheme would get an F anyway, it just looks awful

Kyle Larson #51 Target Chevy SS Simple, yet attractive, and it earns an A

Kurt Busch #78 Wonder Bread Chevy SS  To celebrate the return of Wonder Bread, Kurt is going to channel Ricky Bobby, except for one difference…this scheme is a lot better than the Ricky Bobby Scheme.    No flames and the baloons coming from the brake duct are a great look for this car, and it earns an A

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Mountain Dew/Xbox 1 Chevy SS  It has a great color scheme, and that is the nicest thing I can say about it.  The design is just awful, and it looks like it will give people seizures as it drives around the track.  I give it an F

Blake Koch #95 Supportmillitary.org Ford Fusion Eww…Too much going on, with the over-sized camo in too many different colors, and the door design which is awful. F-

My Day at the NHRA in Joliet

100_3559I had a post ready to go concerning collar designs, but I’ve decided to save that for next week. I’m still on vacation, and last Saturday I went to see the 16th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, in Joliet. I had the chance to get VIP tickets, so I went with Argie, a friend from work, and some of her friends, and took the chance to mix business with pleasure.

It was a mixture of Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regulars, and some minor league drivers, but it was fun. The first thing I learned was how loud these cars really are. I’ve been to NASCAR races, and I’ve heard the engines running, but NHRA engines are so much louder than I had thought. For a while, I was standing in the spectator area on track level, and as they warmed up, you felt the vibrations of the engine. I’m standing about 75 feet away from the starting line, and when they went by, you felt it in every part of your body, a split second after they passed you. Needless to say, it was AWESOME!

One thing I did enjoy was checking out the different kinds of cars, from top fuel dragsters, 100_3531 100_3532to super stocks,100_3543to funny cars, 100_3545 100_3546 100_3547 100_3552The scoreboard tells the fans who won, and what their times and speeds were, each side having its own scoreboard with lights around the sponsor logo to tell you who won.100_3544I also checked out the tires on these cars, and man, they are huge! They look like they are twice the size of NASCAR tires.100_3550Speaking of which, I got a chance to check out the new Gen 6 Sprint Cup car, as Clint Bowyer’s Toyota Camry show car made an appearance…it looks amazing!100_3535 100_3534 100_3533 100_3537 100_3536 100_3538 100_3539They even had a jet dragster, but I didn’t get to see it on the track…oh well.100_3560One of the fun things about these events is that you can check out the pit area, so I did, checked out all sorts of cars, and the various equipment and stages of preparation and equipment used in them.   100_3540 100_3541 100_3553 100_3554 100_3555 100_3557Impact Racing had a booth there, and they had the various designs of helmets sold for race use. Aside from NASCAR, IndyCar and motocross designs, they had drag racing helmets. Drag racing helmets feature a visor design similar to wrap-around sunglasses. Top fuel and funny cars have their own designs, with funny car having an air filer, since the nitro-methane engine sits in front of the driver, instead of behind, like in a top fuel dragster. 100_3548 100_3549Many of the teams sell off equipment from the cars after the various events are done, and I took full advantage, acquiring a timing belt from Bob Tasca’s Motorcraft Funny car, this one used in his first qualifying session at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol Tennessee. This run he had a 4.15 second, 306 MPH run. This thing is HUGE, measuring over 64 inches in circumference and 3 inches across. tasca-belt1 tasca-belt2

As well as an ignition coil and a spark plug from Morgan Lucas Racing. Ignition coils are used to turn on cars in general, but this MSD 8142 is designed to fire up these 8000 horsepower engines, which need a lot of electricity to start and operate. I was fortunate enough to have Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps autograph it in person. mlr-coil1 mlr-coil2 mlr-coil3 mlr-coil4 mlr-coil5 mlr-coil6 mlr-coil7

My VIP ticket got me into the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality area. That was a lot of fun. We got to watch his car get prepared. Since the U.S. Army is his primary sponsor, DSR had some Army recruiters and soldiers speak. Though speaking to a crowd is not always easy when you have 2 8000 horsepower cars racing nearby. Then Tony Schumacher got up and gave a speech, and discussed his helmet, which prompted this question from me:

Afterwards, I was able to get a photo with him,100_3556and got to watch the engine test. This video looks tame, but unless you see it in person, you don’t have any idea how loud it really is, and I was 15 feet away when I shot that video!

Then I had dinner,100_3558and called it a day. I had a great time, and I will go back any chance I get!

In other news, I went back to the Museum of Science and Industry, and I went to the Jeff Gordon suit exhibit, and was shocked to see this:100_3811THE ENTIRE DISPLAY had been emptied out of the display case.  At first I didn’t know what had happened, so I asked at the information desk.  They, in turn, told me that pipes located above the display had been leaking, and that the items had been removed.  I hope that when the display is fixed, the issues I discussed in a previous blog will have been fixed, I will keep you posted.

And since I’m here, Let’s talk paint schemes…shall we?

Jamie McMurray #1 Hellmann’s 100th Anniversary Chevy SS The yellow or green on the contingency decals is pointless, and it takes away from what is a very solid scheme, with simple design and great color. I give it a B+, almost an A, just not enough.

Casey Mears #13 Valvoline Next Gen Ford Fusion Not bad, not bad at all. I like the color scheme, which has both earth and motor oil tones in it, and the overall design is great. A+

Tony Stewart #14 Ducks Unlimited Chevy SS Although it is just his normal scheme with DUCKS UNLIMITED instead of MOBIL 1 on the quarter panel, I hate his new look. The black scheme from before Kansas was really good, but this is just horrible. Too much orange, not enough black or camo. F

Clint Bowyer #15 Toyota Camry 30th Anniversary Toyota Camry Ok, so is this a red car, a black car, or a silver car…I’m really lost here. The nose and front panels look red, but the hood and back quarter panels look black, and the roof is silver. They took one of the best color schemes in racing, and made it horrible! The only thing giving this scheme a passing grade is the color scheme, but even that can’t keep it above a D-

Aric Almirola #43 Go Bowling Ford Fusion I love what they did here. The bowling ball nose and pin design give a great impression, and the color scheme works very well here. A+

AJ Allmendinger #47 Scotts Toyota Camry Simple and attractive, with a very nice simple color scheme…But could someone explain to me why in this rendering the windshield decal reads AJ ALLMENDINGER instead of just ALLMENDINGER? The only time a first name is on the windshield is in the case of Kurt and Kyle Busch. There is no other Allmendinger racing in the Sprint Cup. That said, this scheme earns an A

Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s/Louisville Cardinals Toyota Camry The color scheme is amazing, and the basic simple design of the car works well. The hood has some needless design, which does affect the grade, but even so, it still earns an A-

Martin Truex Jr. #56 NAPA Batteries/Get Back and Give Back Toyota Camry  Another example of why most teams only USE ONE COLOR AND DESIGN SCHEME!  The nose features BDU digital camouflage in light and dark green, which works well.  The doors feature Truex’s normal scheme, again good color and design, and the back features a blue/black digital camouflage, again which would work well by itself.  The problem is that the combination of the three make for an awful look.   This scheme is one of the worst so far this year, and it earns the F- grade it deserves.  I fully support our Armed Forces, but this scheme is horrible!

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion I know I covered this scheme in a previous post, but this photo illustrates why I hate UPS as a car sponsor. No matter what, UPS cars have one thing in common, and that is that the driver suit can look really good, whereas the car will look awful. In this case, the car has pointless designs and needlessly added colors, whereas the driver suit is simple and attractive. So my previous grade of D- still applies.

And finally, while I don’t normally do Nationwide paint schemes anymore, I had to do this one. Kurt Busch has had a throwback at Talladega reminiscent of Neil Bonnett’s Country Time scheme from the 1980’s, and last night, he had had an amazing scheme taken from Days of Thunder…I love that scheme because I love the movie. The boxy design of the Camaro works well with the scheme, as it is much similar to the design of the Lumina. Keep it up Kurt!

Some Thoughts on 2013 Paint Schemes So Far

I discussed the basic design changes for the 2013 redesigned schemes.  Today, I thought I would look at some of the schemes that have been released, and give my thoughts on them. 

Let’s look at the Chevy schemes first.

Jamie McMurray  The basic scheme is solid here.  The Bass Pro Shop “lightning bolt” used in last year’s scheme is gone, and a single Golden Arch has taken its place.  The car has a cleaner look as a result.  I like the design of the car number here as well, and the goldenrod yellow works rather well.  Final Grade: A-

Kasey Kahne  I really hope this is a prototype design,,,the color scheme is all wrong, there are too many light colors, and the door design is just brutal.  The tailpipe decals which are already bad have a silver border around them, which just makes them stand out even more. Of the Chevy schemes released, this is the worst.  Final Grade: D+  

Danica Patrick  Last year Danica’s car was painful to look at.  However if this is the final design for Danica, I like it.  The yellow is much more subdued, giving it an overall better appearance.  Also the orange and black stripes at the bottom give it a bolder look as well.  The numbers need work though, as the generic racing font doesn’t do the car any favors.  Final Grade: B+

Tony Stewart  Both of Tony Stewart’s paint schemes leave something to be desired.  The Bass Pro Shop scheme is the better of the two.  The total lack of white on the Bass Pro Shop scheme give the car a good look, and the stripes give a cleaner line.  The orange on the bottom needs to be a little darker, but it;s a great scheme.  Mobil 1 on the other hand has too much white, an awful set of stripes that seem to be non-sequitur with each other.  The overall color scheme is all over the place and is very confusing to look at.  In addition, the white on the back doesn’t help.  Final Grade: C+

Jeff Gordon Are you kidding?  Black flames on a car that is totally black outline in blue?  Pepsi has a great shade of blue and a great logo and yet they manage to screw it up by trying the Pepsi Max design to be edgy.  I’m a fan of black cars, but this just falls flat. Final Grade: C- 

Kevin Harvick  Ok, let’s make this clear:  This is what a Budweiser scheme should look like, this is not.  This is one of my favorite schemes so far, it looks like a Budweiser car should look like, so my Final Grade: A

Jeff Burton From what I’ve seen the Cat car looks about the same as it did last year which is actually a good thing, because the scheme is solid, has good colors, great number designs and a good pattern used.  Final Grade: A

Juan Pablo Montoya Great color, great number design, and the pattern used is a lot more sublte than last year’s scheme.  The quarter-panels have too many associate sponsors and looks too cluttered, keeping the Final Grade at a B.

Jimmie Johnson  Less is more and this paint scheme proves that.  The Z-28 stripes, good color scheme, and clean design gives the Lowes car a simple yet elegant design that just works.  The Jimmie Johnson Foundation scheme is a little cluttered, but it still works.  Final Grade: A

Dale Earnhardt Jr.  The Diet Dew scheme isn’t great, the design is pointlessly complex, and the red on green number design is just brutal.  If you look at this picture of the National Guard scheme you will see that one of the major changes to Chevy’s driver suits is the full Chevy logo, as opposed to just a red bow tie like last year.  This design was used in IndyCar last year and looks better than the old design.

Moving on to Ford…

Brad Keselowski  The scheme is decent, but the dark red lettering on the dark blue background is very hard to see.  Miller needs to rethink that part of the design, but other than that it’s a good scheme…though I still miss the beer-colored wheels from last year!  Final Grade is a C

Marcos Ambrose  Is it normal to get seasick while looking at a paint scheme?  The Petty Blue just does not work here, and the oval around the letters is pointless.  The car looks awful even though it has a great color scheme and great sponsor logos.  Final Grade: D

Greg Biffle  There’s nothing really wrong here, but nothing really right here either.  The side design looks forced, the black roof is idiotic, the color scheme is good, but the number design looks too cliche.  It makes no sense, but 3M schemes never do, so I’ll give it a C

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  The Best Buy scheme looks good.  The number design, color scheme, and simplistic design give the car a good look.  The Zest scheme on the other hand has an awful scheme, and like Kasey Kahne’s scheme, has too many light colors and not enough dark to make the scheme work.  The Final grade is a C overall, an A for Best Buy and a D for Zest.

Trevor Bayne Timeless, plain and simple.  This scheme works well, and if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Final Grade: A

Joey Logano This scheme could very easily be mistaken for McDonald’s.  The red wheels don’t do it any favors, and the Penzoil scheme is too simplistic.  Sometimes less is more when it comes to car design.  Final grade: D-

Carl Edwards  The stripes work well here, and the color scheme is good.  Unlike the Zest scheme, this scheme uses enough dark blue to make it work.  The UPS scheme however is a disaster.  The dark brown really works, but the various shades of gold, orange and red make the design look like a sad rainbow.  The white numbers don’t help that much either.  Final Grade is a C, A for Fastenal, D for UPS

And finally a look at Toyota’s schemes thusfar

Matt Kensith  This Dollar General scheme could be good if some of the black stripes go, and what is up with the DG design on the bottom of the quarter-panels?  The yellow-to-orange fade on the back doesn’t work either.  Final Grade: D

Clint Bowyer  The dual blue and white scheme is popular this year, and this scheme is one example.  The basic design would work better without some of the stripes on the front.  Otherwise it’s a solid scheme with a B grade.

and last but not least, Martin Truex Jr.  Simple, elegant with a great color scheme, great logos and great number design.  Final Grade: A

I will add more input when more schemes are released.