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In the Fast Lane: The Art of Winston Cup Racing
June 16, 1999 From www.countrycool.com

RALEIGH, N.C. (The Sportz News Service) -- A few years ago, America celebrated Leroy Niemann as he painted sport as art. Today, those Niemann prints are quite valuable.

But sport always has been a mixture of athleticism and art, whether it's something as beautiful as a thoroughbred charging down the stretch or an acrobatic play in football or the beauty of the paint job on a sleek Winston Cup car.

Part of the allure of NASCAR racing is that the cars are beautiful. They go fast, sure. They wreck and provide excitement, sure. But on top of all that is the fact that the painted designs on race cars are simply beautiful.

Some changes in sponsors in the last few days ignited the thoughts about the beauty of these cars.

First came the addition of the Miller Brewing Eagle and the Harley Davidson crest to the car of Rusty Wallace for the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover. It changed the appearance of his Taurus, taking it from very nice to fantastic.

Then came word that Cale Yarborough Racing had come up with a sponsorship deal with Universal Studios that would add Woody Woodpecker to the No. 98 car of Rick Mast for Kmart 400 at Michigan. That happened about the same time that Winston pulled its sponsorship of Jimmy Spencer's No. 23 car.

Cars are basically painted in three ways. The first two involve designs that are either whimsical (like Mast's Woody Woodpecker car) or classical (like Richard Petty's cars). The third option is color splash, like the rainbow car of Jeff Gordon.

Not all are attractive because of the paucity of design. And some are not very pretty because of the overabundance of design or because of the color schemes.

Brett Bodine, for example, has a car that is not overly attractive because it is just plain. The car is white with sparse design save for the words Paychex written on it in blue along with the No. 11. Plain and boring.

Another ugly car is the No. 60 Chevy of Geoffrey Bodine. It is black with a red hood. It could work in those color combinations, but somehow the PowerTeam logo does not come off as flashy as it should.

Another car lacking beauty is the No. 71 Chevy of David Marcis. It is a very plain black-and-white design. But that is to be expected since Marcis is the last remaining independent on the circuit and operates his team on a shoestring budget.

One driver who has all the money in the world but still runs with a sorry design is Gordon. Gordon? Yep. His car is colorful and bright, but the DuPont No. 24 Chevrolet comes across like those old Houston Astros uniforms: a lot of colors with no rhyme or reason.

So who has the best-looking cars on the Winston Cup circuit? Here's our Top 10 list.

10. Bobby Labonte's No. 18 Pontiac does not have a whimsical paint job nor is it a classic. Yet the green and red coloring works well together and gives the wide-track vehicle a nice look.

9. Mike Skinner's No. 31 Chevrolet has a classic look. Lowe's emblem goes well with the blue-and-yellow paint job.

8. Steve Park's No. 1 Chevy is a lot like Skinner's as far as classic looks go. But the black-and-yellow Pennzoil emblem allows for a little more stylish appearance than does the blue and yellow of Lowe's.

7. Mast was lucky when he got his new sponsor since the Woody Woodpecker painting on his hood makes his No. 98 car look much better than it did before.

6. Jerry Nadeau's No. 9 Cartoon Network Ford is a little spiffier than the other cartoon theme cars because it has plenty of artwork on a great basic blue color design.

5. Tony Stewart is not only the top rookie driver on the circuit. He is also the driver of one fine-looking car. His No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac is a classic Winston Cup design and the orange sets it apart since that color is so rarely used.

4. Rusty Wallace had a good-looking car before adding the Miller Brewing Eagle and the Harley Davidson logo. But the addition of those two features has made the No. 2 Ford Taurus look great.

3. Ernie Irvan's No. 36 Pontiac is sponsored by M&M's and it looks like a giant box of them. It is the best of the whimsical designs by far.

2. John Andretti's No. 43 Pontiac is the most classic of any Winston Cup car since it is just an extension of the vehicles driven by the legendary Petty. But that's perfectly all right since Petty owns Andretti's car.

1. Dale Earnhardt's car is a classic. The No. 3 Chevrolet is basic black and basically menacing, especially for those drivers who see it coming up in their rear view mirror. It is the most recognizable car in Winston Cup racing. The fact that Earnhardt has groomed his image over the years makes the car even more of a classic and more eye appealing, too.

So who needs a Niemann print when Winston Cup fans can see their "art" at a race track every weekend for free?

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Blk3GM's Dale Earnhardt Site was born on July 26, 1998 and is owned and maintained by Gary Harris.  This site is a tribute to "NASCAR's Greatest Driver" and his up and coming son.  We are not affiliated with any official Team, Sponsors, Media Group or NASCAR.  This site is solely for entertainment purposes.  Information and statistic's on this site have been collected from various NASCAR related sites on the internet, from Winston Cup Scene, Newspapers, Television and our personal experience at Winston Cup and Busch Grand National races.  All statistics are believed to be accurate at the time they are updated but cannot be guaranteed.
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