Kurt Busch’s Darlington throwback scheme an awesome reminder of closest Cup Series finish ever

Image courtesy of Stewart-Haas Racing
Image courtesy of Stewart-Haas Racing /

Not only is Kurt Busch’s paint scheme for this season’s Darlington weekend just cool in its own right, it’s a fantastic memory of a fantastic finish that actually took place at The Track Too Tough to Tame.

Darlington has enthusiastically embraced its status as the official throwback weekend of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, and everyone from the track to teams to drivers and even fans has made it into something more than just another race. Yet amid all of the fun is a lot of manufactured nostalgia, including paint schemes that are cool to look at but sort of just generically retro instead of commemorating something meaningful.

Not so with the paint scheme Stewart-Haas Racing unveiled for Kurt Busch and the No. 41 Ford, which you can see above. Except for the necessary nod to one of his current sponsors, Haas Automation CNC, the colors and design are almost an exact match to Busch’s Rubbermaid scheme from 2003, which the company used to promote Sharpie markers.

That alone is pretty awesome, but what really takes this particular Darlington throwback to the next level is that it’s as close a match as possible to the one Busch drove in the closest NASCAR Cup Series finish ever, which just so happened to be at that very track (the record for closest finish has since been tied, but still not broken). The 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 came down to the wire in an almost literal sense, with Busch and Ricky Craven drag racing to the finish and banging off each other in the kind of ending that NASCAR and race fans everywhere undoubtedly wish would take place every week.

Busch is a pretty good sport for running the colors from one of the most agonizing possible defeats, though coming up short in a historic deal like that is better than a garden variety second-place finish. Now all we need is someone to do a throwback scheme in the unmistakable Tide colors to pay tribute to Craven and we’re good.

Next: Era of one driver, one sponsor is over

Hmm, Matt DiBenedetto drives the No. 32 these days. Just a thought …