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Chase Elliott unveils Dale Earnhardt Jr. throwback paint scheme for Darlington

Nick Profile Picby:Nick Geddes03/20/24


Dale Earnhardt Jr.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Hendrick Motorsports has unveiled the throwback paint scheme Chase Elliott will use for the Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway on May 12. Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet for Darlington is a callback to one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s iconic paint schemes during his time with Hendrick Motorsports, red, white and blue with UniFirst taking the place of National Guard as the primary sponsor.

Hendrick Motorsports released a video on X of Elliott first showing off his new hot rod to Earnhardt.

“Man, this thing looks frickin’ perfect,” Earnhardt said.

It sure does, as it did on Feb. 23, 2014, when Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 with this exact paint scheme, his second and final victory in “The Great American Race.” Elliott remembers that race, and how much trouble he got in on Monday morning the following day.

“When I first learned about it, the first thing I thought of was I got in trouble,” Elliott said. “I was late to school Monday morning because I stayed up all night watching you win this race.”

Earnhardt delivered a big thank you to his former team for honoring him 10 years after his triumph at Daytona.

“Big thanks to @chaseelliott @UniFirst_Corp and @TeamHendrick for running this car at Darlington,” Earnhardt wrote on X. “Was a proud moment for all of us on the 88 team that evening in Daytona back in 2014.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans clamoring for Cup Series return

Many Earnhardt fans were holding out hope for a different announcement after Hendrick Motorsports initially teased it Tuesday night. The tweet included an 11-second video, showing the lower half of a driver walking toward the camera in a National Guard firesuit, then reaching down and fixing the cuff on his right pants leg featuring his trademark skeleton gloves. Hendrick Motorsports captioned the post, “Something’s coming. Tomorrow. 9 a.m. ET. Dale Jr. Download.”

Earnhardt, who retired from full-time competition in 2017, has occasionally returned to drive in the Xfinity Series, but not in the Cup Series. He competed in two races this past season, finishing 30th at Bristol Motor Speedway and fifth at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After leading 47 laps at Bristol, the 49-year-old said he felt he had more races in him.

“The last couple of races had me wondering, ‘Damn, do I need to not do this anymore? I’m really not getting nothing out of running 15th and struggling and being frustrated,’” Earnhardt said. “Then you go run good, ‘OK, maybe it’s where I’m racing. Maybe I just need to run at certain tracks I love.’”