Our experts weigh in on four of the biggest questions in motorsports as the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Heads to Darlington for its throwback weekend:
Turn 1: Which throwback paint scheme would you carry to Darlington?
Ricky Craven, ESPN NASCAR analyst: I would probably carry Tim Richmond's Folgers paint scheme. I won my only NASCAR championship in 1991 (K&N East) carrying the No. 25 because I wanted very much to wheel a race car the way Richmond could. While I don't agree with the choices he made in his personal life, I will always defend the fact Tim Richmond was a "wheelman." Among the greatest I've ever seen.
Ryan McGee, ESPN.com: This is the part where y'all think I'll automatically scream "STP!" But at Darlington you gotta go in the complete opposite direction. You gotta go with anything David Pearson, doesn't matter what car or year. He could've auto-tune won at Darlington driving a lawn mower. I figure you'd finish in the top 10 just by having his paint on your car. To fit the designated time period let's get go with his self-owned 1985 Chattanooga Chew ride ... and make sure it's got a cigarette lighter installed.
Bob Pockrass, ESPN.com: The paint scheme of an old pace car, the only car I'd be even remotely qualified to drive.
Matt Willis, ESPN Stats & Information: To pick a classic paint scheme, you've got to hit a few major points. Is it a product I'm passionate about? Does the car flat-out look cool? Sure, certain cars just look cool, but you want to pull a classic scheme that nobody else has on their radar. There's Terry Labonte's old Pizza Hut scheme, Darrell Waltrip's classic Mountain Dew car. But give me the collection of cars from the 2002 Tropicana 400 that were running Muppet paint schemes! Jeremy Mayfield representing Beaker!
Turn 2: Do you wish the Southern 500 were a true throwback race in the heat of the day?
Craven: How many people were in attendance for the "heat of the day" event called the Brickyard 400 ? The days of sitting in 90-degree heat watching a NASCAR race are few and far between. Every business must evolve, change with the times. A Sunday night throwback race preceding a Labor Day vacation makes perfect sense. As long as Ken Squire and Ned Jarrett are a part of this event, nobody should complain!
McGee: Yes. Even though I used to come home from the noon races and burn the jeans I'd been wearing because they were ruined. #sweatbox
Pockrass: No. Having a night race on Labor Day weekend often feels so much better rather than in the heat of the day. Plus, the sundown and the lights provide a better spectacle.
Willis: I love throwbacks and classic NASCAR, but I prefer this race run at night. With the next day being Labor Day, it gives us a chance to get this race in primetime, and leave one of our last summer days free for whatever your heart desires. I like the idea of starting in the day, ending at night and letting teams adjust to the changing track conditions.
Turn 3: Which slogan do you like better for Darlington: 'The Lady in Black' or 'The Track Too Tough To Tame'?
Craven: I like "The Track Too Tough To Tame" because the moment you think you have the upper hand, the track reminds you who is in charge. When I first walked into the facility in 1992, I thought, "Holy smoke. Nothing I've done in a race car has prepared me for this." Almost immediately I adopted the attitude of I have to win here. This is the one track you take personally when you compete at it. It's truly you against the track.
McGee: This is unfair to have to choose. But the first racing T-shirt I owned said "Too Tough To Tame," so let's go with that.
Pockrass: "The Track Too Tough To Tame." I understand that one. Plus it sounds more throwback.
Willis: I'll take "The Track Too Tough to Tame." Alliteration for the win.
Turn 4: Whose realistic last make-the-playoffs stand is Darlington because they perform better there than Richmond?
Craven: Phew. That's a tough sell, tough putt, etc., because this is the toughest track to compete at with the attitude you have to win. You win at Darlington when you respect the track, remind yourself every lap "I'm not competing against anyone other than the track." As a race fan, I'm going with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
McGee: Clint Bowyer. He's pretty terrible at Darlington, with one top-10 in 11 tries. But there's no way the racing gods would let him win at Richmond to make the postseason, right?!
Pockrass: Erik Jones. He did the tire test at Darlington. And his last memory of Richmond was starting 20th and finishing last after an accident just five laps into the Cup race in the spring.
Willis: You might laugh at the idea of a rookie winning at Darlington, but let's not rule out Daniel Suarez. He's never run a Cup race there, but Suarez has finished third in both of his career Xfinity Series starts at Darlington, run against fields laden with Cup drivers. His Xfinity numbers at Richmond aren't nearly as good, and he finished a modest 12th there in the spring Cup race. Suarez and Joe Gibbs Racing are heating up at the right time, and it's not ridiculous to think that he could be running up front and give himself a shot to win.