How did you pick your favorite NASCAR driver? There are many different answers to this question. Some people may like the same driver that a relative or close friend liked while others may have just randomly selected a driver or picked the driver that happened to win the first time they watched a race.
Then there are those people who choose their favorite driver simply based on the design of his race car. As a matter of fact, I know of a few people personally that made the critical decision of who to cheer for, based solely on the look of his car.
Over the course of NASCAR, there have been some great looking cars, and some that never should have been shown the light of day.
If I were to pick my favorite driver based on how good looking the car was, these are the ones that I would have chosen between.
I am going to count down what I consider to be the 50 greatest paint schemes in NASCAR history, using cars only from the Sprint Cup Series. Some of these cars were a drivers primary paint scheme for a given season, while others are paint schemes that have only been used one time.
Either way, these are my favorite 50.
Elliott Sadler drove this particular scheme three times during the 2004 season. I like this for its simplicity and the way that all other logos other than the M&M's really stand out.
Aflac was the primary sponsor for a handful of races for Greg Biffle during the 2007 season. He took this scheme to victory lane at Kansas.
While Aflac continues to be a mainstay on the hood of Carl Edwards' car nowadays, it was this scheme that launched the duck into the NASCAR spotlight.
I'm not exactly sure what it is about this particular scheme that I have always been a fan of. Miller Genuine Draft was the primary sponsor of Rusty Wallace's No. 2 back in the early 90s, and this has always been my favorite of all of his standard schemes.
Wallace found himself in victory lane an amazing 10 times in 1993 alone with Miller Genuine Draft as the primary sponsor.
For some reason, the standard McDonald's paint schemes never really jumped out at me. But this one did.
Elliott drove this scheme at Rockingham in 2000 but could only muster a 25th place finish. Win or lose, this was the best McDonald's paint scheme that Elliott ever drove.
I absolutely fell in love with this car the first time I saw it. It is so simple yet it really stood out to me for some reason.
Martin drove this scheme just once in 2010, at Martinsville, and was just a few laps short of pulling off one of the biggest comebacks in recent memory. After being involved in a wreck halfway through the event, Martin came back to finish second in the race.
Looney Tunes was the sponsor for the Fall races at Richmond for a couple of seasons early in the 2000 decade. This particular Bugs Bunny themed paint scheme graced the hood of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 in 2001.
Gordon put this car on the pole but only finished in 36th place after being involved in an accident very early in the event.
Joey Logano gained his first bit of Sprint Cup Series experience late in the 2008 season, driving a reverse Home Depot paint scheme.
He first drove the No. 96 car with this same scheme and then wrapped up the season at Texas in the No. 02. I like this car for the simple fact, that for years you had grown accustomed to seeing the Home Depot car as a bright orange car, and now all of a sudden, it had the reverse paint scheme with white being the primary color.
Dale Earnhardt sported this special Bass Pro Shops paint scheme in the 1998 All-Star Event, The Winston.
The bronze colored body, was a nice change of pace for Earnhardt from the typical black intimidator look that he normally carried. Earnhardt was involved in an accident and finished 19th out of 20 in the exhibition event.
Reed Sorenson and Polaroid teamed up for a handful of races together during the 2008 season. While Sorenson remains winless in Sprint Cup action, he does have the honor of having driven one of the Top 50 paint-schemed cars.
I like the use of many different colors in small doses. The rainbow of colors in no way overwhelms the overall paint scheme which makes it stand out more and makes it more effective.
This was a special paint scheme that Terry Labonte drove in 1999. He won The Winston, the All-Star race in this scheme.
Much like the Sorenson Polaroid car, I like the use of many different colors but not making them completely dominate the entire car. This is a simple use of a lot of different colors, and it makes it really stand out.
How can you look at this car and not think that it's cool? The "Got Milk" slogan became one of the nation's most popular phrases in the early part of the decade, so it was only appropriate that it wind up on the hood of a race car.
Terry Labonte drove this particular paint scheme at Chicago in 2002. He piloted this particular scheme to a 13th place finish in the race.
Much like the "Got Milk?" slogan, the Energizer Bunny has instantly become a staple of American pop culture. Energizer featured their e2 Lithium brand on the hood of Reed Sorenson's No. 41 in 2006.
The first time Sorenson piloted the car with the pink bunny on the hood was at Fontana, where he drove to a 21st place finish.
First off, yes I know this is the Nationwide Series car that Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to a win at Daytona this past season. But the picture quality is much better, than that of an actual Earnhardt Wrangler car.
Regardless, you get the basic gist of the paint scheme. Even 25 years later, it still looked great to see the famous yellow and blue out on the track.
Over the last couple of years, Jeff Gordon has sported a few different looks when Nicorette was his primary sponsor. Typically, it is either a green version or a red version.
While the red version of this car is nice, it falls well short when being compared with the green model. In limited action with the Nicorette machine, Gordon has failed to find victory lane, but he has captured one pole position in it.
Harry Gant piloted the Skoal Bandit car for the better part of 13 seasons. During the 1981 season, he hopped in to the Skoal car and never got out of it until 1994.
Gant earned 18 career wins, all coming with the same sponsor. While typically I am not a big fan of many of the earlier paint schemes, this one is almost unbeatable for its time.
Terry Labonte closed out the 2000 season by driving a special holiday-themed car. Alongside his famed Kellogg's logo, Labonte welcomed the Grinch as his co-pilot.
Labonte drove this car at Phoenix and Homestead, two of the seasons final three races. Labonte failed to crack the Top 10 in either of those races, finishing 17th and 25th. Two finishes that would even make the Grinch smile.
Much like the White Home Depot car driven by Logano, this paint scheme makes the list because it was something different for the primary sponsor. We are so used to seeing the Home Depot car as nothing but orange, that when you see something different, you really take notice.
Stewart drove this car in 2004 under the lights at Richmond. After a poor qualifying effort, Stewart was able to come away with a Top Five finish, coming home in fourth place.
Sterling Marlin drove the Coor's Light car from 1998 through 2005. And whether it was Marlin, Jamie McMurray, who filled in for an injured Marlin in 2002 or David Stremme, who later took over this ride, the Coor's Light machine would easily make this list every time.
Once again, the design is fairly simple, but it is the solid silver base that really makes this car look appealing. This picture is from 2005, but the paint scheme was never really much different in any other year.
To open the new millennium, Jeff Gordon sported a unique silver look to his DuPont Chevrolet. Gordon ran this scheme throughout Speedweeks at Daytona but with only limited success.
After finishing sixth in his Gatorade Dual, he only managed a 34th place finish in the Daytona 500. And if you are worried about not seeing any more Gordon schemes, have no fear, the best is yet to come.
Kevin Harvick has had Reese's adorn his hood in a handful of races for the better part of the last decade. Harvick has put Reese's in victory lane twice in his Sprint Cup career.
Just looking at this car would give anyone a sweet tooth. I have recently realized that I am drawn to bright orange colors, so that instantly makes this car a favorite of mine.
This is another paint scheme that you could go ahead and choose any year, and it would still make the list. Once again, I think it has something to do with the bright orange as to why I like this car.
Ricky Rudd was behind the wheel of the Tide car from 1991 to 1999 and found victory lane on nine occasions in this paint scheme.
Jeff Gordon makes the countdown yet again, this time with a Superman-themed paint job. Gordon drove this car in The Winston back in 1999. He drove the car to a third place finish in the exhibition event.
Kasey Kahne drove this Mountain Dew-schemed car at Michigan, back in 2004. He finished second to Ryan Newman that day and was a heartbeat away from what would have been his first career victory.
Mountain Dew has always had some nice looking schemes when they were the primary sponsor, but this particular one was my favorite of them all.
M&M's has been a primary sponsor in NASCAR for a long time, and while the paint scheme has changed a little bit over the course of the years, I have always been fond of the older scheme.
Ernie Irvan had his turn driving the M&M car in 1999, but he failed to find victory lane.
Bill Elliott drove this car at Charlotte in 2002. The sponsorship reflected the coming release of the 2003 Dodge Viper.
Elliott was involved in an accident that resulted in a 35th place finish, but that race still proved significant, as that was the race that Jamie McMurray won his first Sprint Cup race in just his second start.
Jeff Gordon drove this ChromaLusion car at The Winston in 1998. Gordon finished in 12th place, the last car on the lead lap in the non points counting race.
This car was cool for the fact, that it changed color as it went around the track. This was, I believe, the first paint scheme of its kind.
This car was driven by Casey Mears at the 2007 Coca Cola 600. In a very dramatic finish, Mears conserved just enough fuel to make it back to the finish line, to collect his first, and thus far only, win in Sprint Cup competition.
This is a fairly simple paint scheme, as it is nothing but camouflage with yellow lettering and numbers, but it still looked real nice on the track—and extra nice in victory lane.
Bill Elliott picked up a Top 10 finish when he drove this Muhammad Ali paint scheme at Michigan back in June of 2001. He started sixth that day and kept the car near the front all afternoon as he managed a ninth place finish.
This is a great looking paint scheme. It isn't overly flashy, but it still manages to pay tribute to one of the greatest athletes in history.
Sorry for the poor picture quality on this one. But I'm sure it will still bring back some memories. Kyle Petty drove this car in the early 1990s and had some success in it.
Between 1991 and 1993, Petty recorded four of his eight career victories in the Mello Yello machine. Another car with a fairly simple design, but it looks nice, and Mello Yello is just such a cool sponsor.
This is a paint scheme that isn't simple. With the purple base and numerous lightning bolts, this car really jumps off the track at you.
Jeff Burton drove the Prilosec OTC car for a select few events in 2007 and 2008. This is the 2007 car that he took to victory lane at Texas, with a last lap pass of Matt Kenseth.
First off, I need to clarify that this isn't the Ironman that a lot of people probably first thought of. This scheme has nothing to do with a movie.
This was the paint scheme that Ricky Rudd drove at the 2002 Coca Cola 600 on the night that he broke the consecutive start streak that had previously been set by Terry Labonte. Again, it's a fairly simple design, but as is usually the case, simplicity can sometimes look really good.
Once again, we have a Jeff Gordon paint scheme, and once again, we have a scheme that is relatively simple. This is actually the same design as his standard paint scheme, the only difference is that the entire car is in a platinum finish.
Gordon drove this car to a runner up finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October of 2004. That day he finished behind his teammate, Jimmie Johnson, who was running a similar platinum scheme on his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson lands in the 18th spot on the countdown, in a car that he finished 18th in. Johnson drove a Sponge Bob Squarepants-themed car in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 2003.
This car was driven in Johnson's second full time season in Sprint Cup, long before he was a reigning five-time champion. This car makes the list for the simple fact of, how could you not love Sponge Bob?
What's not to love about a sharp looking retro paint scheme? This is the car that Jamie McMurray drove at Talladega in September of 2003.
This car paid tribute to the late Davey Allison, and it did an amazing job. McMurray put this car on the outside pole and wound up bringing it home in 16th place.
Miller Light is another company that has been associated with NASCAR for a very long time. So, it is always nice to see a little bit different paint scheme on the hood of the blue deuce. This car was a very nice change of pace.
Kurt Busch first got behind the wheel of the Taste Protector Lid car at the 2009 All-Star race, where he came away with a third place finish.
I had to put this picture on instead of the actual picture of the car, so that you could see the whole thing, and see just how cool this car was. While, typically I would prefer cars that are a little simpler, with a lot less going on, this car just catches your eye, and all of the lovable General Mills characters can't help but make you smile.
Bobby Labonte drove this car to a 22nd place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September of 2007.
The Blue Deuce makes another appearance on the countdown. This time, it is Rusty Wallace who had the honor.
Wallace drove an Elvis-inspired paint job at Las Vegas in 2002. Like I said, any time the No. 2 changes its main paint scheme, it is usually something special to see. Again, this one was no exception. Wallace finished 11th in this car.
It doesn't matter if it was this No. 44 or the old No. 5 that Terry Labonte and Kellogg's Corn Flakes teamed up together with. Either way, their paint scheme, in my eyes, goes down as the greatest standard paint scheme in history.
Labonte won the 1996 Winston Cup Championship driving the No. 5 car with this scheme being featured.
Before I started making this list, I honestly thought this car would rank a lot closer to the top. I vividly remember when I first saw this car, and how cool I thought it was. Two-and-a-half years later is still looks just as cool as I remember.
This was a one-race paint scheme in promotion of the latest movie in the Indiana Jones series. Kyle Busch drove this car in 2008, at Darlington. It was taken home with some scrapes and some bumps, but Busch still found a way to get this car to victory lane.
Maybe I am being a touch bias by putting this car up so high, being a Mark Martin fan and all. But I loved this car the first time I saw it, and I still think it looks pretty amazing.
Martin drove this gold version of the Viagra paint scheme at New Hampshire in September of 2003, in celebration of making his 500th career start in Sprint Cup competition. Martin could only manage a finish of 28th in this car though.
Jeff Gordon drove this car at Talladega in April of 2009. While Gordon has had a variety of different paint schemes over the years, this one seemed to be in a class all by itself, as something totally unique.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to enjoy the sight of this car leading the field around the 2.5 mile track, as Gordon was one of the main catalysts in the big one which took place just seven laps in to the event. He would end up finishing 37th.
This paint scheme is certainly an unintentional great one and a scheme that no one would have ever wanted to use. Following a plane crash that took the lives of 10 Hendrick Motorsports employees in October 2004, the pictures of the victims were displayed on the hood of Johnson and Jeff Gordon's cars.
Jimmie Johnson won the race at Atlanta in which this car was used, but certainly, that is a win he would gladly give back if the awful events that led to this paint scheme could be taken away.
Never the less, it is a beautiful car and an even more touching tribute.
Scott Riggs took Dorothy and Tin Man from the movie The Wizard of Oz around Kansas Speedway in October of 2004. Riggs was one of four drivers who had paint schemes celebrating the movies 65th year anniversary, but his was by far the nicest looking of the bunch.
Riggs brought this car home in the 26th place.
This car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., was a throwback to the old Mountain Dew paint scheme used by Darrell Waltrip in the early 1980s. He drove this car at Darlington in 2008.
Once again, it is the simplicity of this design that makes it look really special and the fact that it has the ability to really bring back some memories. Junior put this car on the outside pole and had a day reminiscent of how it used to be run. He earned a Top Five finish in the old Mountain Dew scheme, finishing fourth.
This is the second paint scheme that Bobby Labonte ran in 2007 that was a smashing success. This car was run at Talladega in April, to help promote the new movie Spiderman 3.
It's not like the movie didn't have enough hype to begin with, but with a paint scheme as beautiful as this, it probably did nothing but help earn it a little more attention.
Labonte drove this car to a 20th place finish at the 2.5 mile super speedway.
To be totally honest, I had completely forgotten about this car until I was scouring through some pictures. But after finding it, it didn't take long to realize that this is an amazing looking car.
Jeff Gordon drove this car as part of a promotion that Pepsi was doing for a contest they were having. Appropriately enough, this car was driven in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Gordon finished 14th in the race.
These Born On Date cars that Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove at Daytona in 2005 looked absolutely unbelievable. The red color that was used was not the typical Budweiser red, it was a much more metallic color, that worked amazingly.
The fun part about these cars, were that they all featured different "born on dates", corresponding to each different day that Junior was involved in on track activities. He finished third in the Daytona 500.
Before I get too far, let me just say that my Top Three, could all be considered No. 1. I had a very difficult time choosing between the three of them. But as for this one, this is a car that Kevin Harvick drove at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis in 2007.
This car was in celebration of Reese's latest creation which included not only the traditional peanut butter, but also banana creme, which was a tribute to Elvis Presley, as he was world famous for his love of peanut butter and banana.
Harvick ultimately finished seventh in this car.
I will go on record right now and say that Marvin Martian is my favorite cartoon character of all time. So, once again, I am probably being a little bias, but, either way, this is still a pretty cool paint scheme.
The Looney Tunes were featured on numerous cars in both 2001 and 2002 at the fall Richmond race, and Marvin Martian graced the hood of Bobby Hamilton's No. 55 in both events. Unfortunately, for Hamilton, he had suffered a broken shoulder, which caused him to miss a few races, so Greg Biffle filled in to drive this car. He finished 33rd in it.
And the No. 1 paint scheme of all time is Mark Martin's Batman Justice League car from Michigan in 2004. Actually, I want to give a shout out to a few of the other cars from that race.
I feel that it is only appropriate to make it a tie at the top between all of the Justice League cars because each one of them was an amazing sight to see.
Kurt Busch was in the Superman car, while Carl Edwards, making his first career Sprint Cup start, piloted a car with the Green Lantern, and the winner of the race was Greg Biffle, who had a car featuring The Flash.
There are a couple of others, but the cars of Martin, Busch, Edwards and Biffle were the four that stood out to me the most. And the other cool thing was, all four of them finished in the Top 10.