Kurt Busch returns to the wheel of the #1 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing and will have one of the best paint schemes of the year.
Before we get into that, I have to say, while not a Kurt Busch fan I do enjoy his appreciation of racing history and ability to do some fun things with his cars. Last year was running a paint scheme from the movie Talladega Nights, where he went so far as to strap a stuffed cougar in his car and quote the movie on the radio. While he was not able to win, he did capture the imagination of those watching when he brought the #51 Me Chevrolet to the front and led the race.
This weekend for Saturday’s Aaron’s 312, Kurt will be racing a retro paint scheme seen below.
The scheme is from 1994, when Phoenix Racing was set to run a partial Sprint Cup (then Winston Cup) Series schedule with driver Neil Bonnett returning to the driver seat after a five year retirement from racing and Country Time on the car. Tragically, Bonnett perished is a crash during practice for the 1994 Daytona 500.
Jeff Purvis, who had already raced for Phoenix Racing, took over and ran the car in six races that year. His best finish was a 21st at Atlanta. He also failed to qualify for the Phoenix race at the end of the year.
After that year Country Time left the sport, Phoenix Racing changed their number from 51 to 44, and Purvis ran another partial schedule.
For me, I love the paint scheme because it allows me to remember back to 1994 and the excitement I had about Bonnett returning to the Series, even on a part-time basis. As someone who was just getting into the sport, I knew of Bonnett’s legend, but hadn’t really seen him race (minus two races in 1993, which included a memorable crash at Talladega).
And a point I’ve made over and over is that NASCAR needs a retro-day race where all drivers bring out old paint schemes. This is an example of why that was be the best thing ever for current fans, old fans, and even new fans.
Kudos to James Finch, Phoenix Racing, Steve Barkdoll, and Kurt Busch for putting this all together.