Grading the New NASCAR Paint Schemes Revealed for 2015 Season

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2014

Grading the New NASCAR Paint Schemes Revealed for 2015 Season

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    Junior's National Guard Chevrolet is no more.
    Junior's National Guard Chevrolet is no more.Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    It's that time of year again. 

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be just one of many NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to sport a new paint scheme in the coming season, but his change will be among the most drastic.

    Sponsors come and go in NASCAR, and even its most popular driver isn't immune.

    The unveiling of new paint schemes is one of the most hotly anticipated events of the offseason, and here we'll give you a look at and our grade for 10 of the best and worst new designs. 

    Let's get right to it and take a look at some of the cars that will be hitting the track in 2015.

Carl Edwards

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    Oh, Carl Edwards, you really shouldn’t have.

    That’s not a commentary on Edwards’ decision to leave Roush Fenway Racing and partner up with old teammate Matt Kenseth as part of Joe Gibbs Racing, but have you seen his new car?

    Do you like orange?

    A lot of orange?

    The No. 19 Toyota Camry will be primarily sponsored by telecommunications company ARRIS, making its NASCAR debut, and it will feature a whole lot of orange paint with some white trim and red numbers on the sides.

    All they needed was a little more black and the car would look like a pumpkin.

    And that’s exactly what it is.

    You get the feeling this is one of those cars that some people will love and others will hate. But me?

    Blech.

    Making matters worse, Edwards' other ride, sponsored by Stanley for 12 races in the coming season, is a dead ringer for a bumblebee.

    Grade: D

Matt Kenseth

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    Indulge me for a second here.

    What exactly is different about Kenseth’s car?

    If you look at the 2014 and 2015 models side by side—which you should be careful if you do, because the Dollar General yellow is a bit blinding—you’re not going to pick up a whole lot.

    The design is almost completely the same.

    There are a couple of things, including a bit of a duller feel along the sides of the car, the result perhaps of wanting the overwhelming yellow paint job to stand out, but none of the changes really move the needle.

    It’s not like last year’s car was anything really special either—decent but not spectacular—but this just feels like a slight tick backward.

    Grade: C

Denny Hamlin

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    Purple.

    Lots and lots of purple.

    Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota Camry is sponsored by shipping giant FedEx, and it had plenty of different designs and color schemes a season ago.

    The main car, which you can see here, made good use of bright oranges, blues and purples on a black body to make the car really stand out.

    Why they scrapped that in favor of this year’s model, which features less-inviting shades of purple and orange, is one of those “your guess is as good as mine” type questions.

    Honestly, this car looks more like it should be out and about on the streets of America delivering packages than visiting Victory Lane.

    Grade: C

Jimmie Johnson

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    Jimmie Johnson’s 2015 ride just doesn’t get my motor running.

    There’s really nothing wrong with it, but the changes made from last season seem to be of the we-had-to-do-something variety.

    Last year’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet was blue and white.

    Just blue and white.

    Why mess around with something that works?

    It had a classic, comfortable feel, and the addition of a bunch of grey on the hood and along the sides really doesn’t give anything to the car.

    All it does is dredge up bad memories of the truly ugly MyLowe’s Chevy from the 2012 season, and nobody wants that.

    Not with Jimmie once again set to pursue his record-tying seventh Sprint Cup Series Championship.

    Grade: C+

Brian Vickers

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    Brian Vickers will miss the start of the 2015 Sprint Cup season after having heart surgery in early December. The procedure to repair a hole in his heart will force him to skip the Daytona 500 and an unspecified number of early-season races.

    When Vickers returns, he’ll be coming back to a No. 55 Toyota that remains largely the same as last year’s model but with a few subtle tweaks to the paint job that make it more aesthetically pleasing.

    More blue and less copper?

    Sign me up.

    Something about the copper trim on the 2014 Camry just didn’t seem right. You can call that a minor complaint, and it probably is, but replacing it with light blue definitely fits the overall scheme better.

    It's nothing groundbreaking, but sometimes it's the little things that count.

    Grade: B

Kasey Kahne

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    Kasey Kahne got a new contract after sneaking into the Chase last year with a late-season win, and now he’ll get a wholly redesigned car with a new sponsor.

    LiftMaster replaces Farmers Insurance as Hendrick Motorsports' sponsor of the No. 5 car for select races in 2015, and it will give Kahne a nice fresh look.

    It’s a pretty simple design overall—not a ton of things happening—but that’s definitely a good thing in this case.

    Less is more.

    The red and white design fits perfectly on the car, striking a good balance without being over the top.

    With Junior shifting to a primarily blue car for most of next season’s races, Kahne’s new red design will be welcome by Hendrick Motorsports fans looking to keep tabs on their drivers on race day.

    Can’t wait to see this one at Daytona.

    Grade: B+

Kyle Busch

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    Let’s be honest about something.

    Kyle Busch has it pretty easy.

    Certainly not on the track, but when it comes to sponsors, he’s spinning gold.

    Rowdy gets to drive a black and green car sponsored by Monster Energy in the XFinity Series and now this newly decked-out M&M-themed ride in the Sprint Cup Series.

    Come on.

    Candy and energy drinks? Every high school kid in America can relate to that.

    Last year’s yellow peanut design will be replaced with a green theme celebrating the return of crispy M&M’s, which will go on sale in January, to American soil for the first time in a decade.

    The car is designed to look like a bag of the candy, and that gives it a nice look.

    As nice as last year?

    No, but still a really fun car.

    Grade: B+

Danica Patrick

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    Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

    Black is the new orange for Danica Patrick’s No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet in 2015.

    Awful puns aside, Danica’s ride will feature a lot less orange than a season ago and a bit more black in its place. You can get a good sense of the change here.

    The car has a much darker look overall, perhaps befitting the gravity of her situation.

    Danica quietly put together her best season as a full-time Sprint Cup driver in 2014, but her momentum was zapped a bit after Stewart-Haas Racing changed her pit boss for the final three races of the Chase.

    Her third season will be crucial in determining where she fits in the pecking order.

    Contender?

    Pretender?

    That’s still to be determined, but her new wheels?

    Definitely a contender—and a lot softer on the eyes than last year's model.

    Grade: A-

Kurt Busch

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    Kurt Busch didn’t have the season Stewart-Haas Racing was hoping for when it brought him on board before the 2013 season, and now it's hitting the reset button.

    At least on his car.

    Black and red goes really well together, but it’s generally best if there’s a bit of balance between the two colors. 

    That didn't happen last year.

    Outlaw’s 2014 ride was just a little too dark, and much of the black—perhaps it was sent to be used on Danica’s new car—will be replaced by red, particularly on the hood and along the sides.

    A brighter look, for sure, with the bright red really making the car pop out more than last season's primarily black model.

    Grade: A

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Junior's No. 88 Chevrolet will have a very different look on the track in the upcoming season.

    Due to budget cuts, the National Guard, which had sponsored Junior since 2008, announced in August that it was terminating its agreement with Hendrick Motorsports.

    Into the void stepped Nationwide Insurance.

    The company announced in May that it would be ending it’s seven-year sponsorship of NASCAR’s second-tier series to put extra cash into Junior’s coffers, serving as sponsor for 12 races in 2015 and 13 each in 2016 and 2017.

    They upped that number to 21 races per year when the National Guard dropped out, becoming the primary sponsor and providing Junior with an extremely sharp look.

    The car is pretty similar to the one he raced at Richmond in September (pictured above) with a couple of slight tweaks, including no National Guard decals on the sides.

    Something about the blue and white scheme with silver 88s on the sides just works really well.


    Grade: A

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