At the turn of the century, NASCAR began with a bang. The 2000 Daytona 500 was one of the more exciting ones as Jimmy Spencer, with only two laps remaining, was setting himself up for a huge upset victory before hitting the wall causing the remaining laps to be run under caution where the legend, Dale Jarrett, won his third.
The first race also brought a ton of new paint schemes which truly opened up the running of multiple paint schemes over the course of a season. For the next 10 seasons, NASCAR would see a huge influx of drivers that honored the race tracks with special anniversary paint schemes as well as sponsorship paint schemes that would change weekly.
The fans that loved and admired the paint schemes of yesterday were beginning to move on with the new age of fans that came to appreciate an original design or special paint scheme for each race.
Here are the top 30 paint schemes of the first ten seasons of the beginning of the century.
30. 2001 No.84 Shawna Robinson, Tropicana
Although Danica Patrick has become the most successful female NASCAR in history, Shawna Robinson was one of the most underrated. She fought hard and nearly won the Busch Series Rookie of the Year but feel to Ricky Craven. She rocked the hell out of the No.84 Tropicana towards the end of her career.
29. 2000 No.5 Terry Labonte, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The partnership between Terry Labonte and Kellogg’s helped to form some of the greatest paint schemes in NASCAR history. The Christmas special was just another example when they added the Grinch to the hood.
28. 2008 No.14 Tony Stewart, Home Depot Back to School
Heading back to school sucks if you are a child. It means the summer is over and it is time to get back to waking up early, staying up late to study, and not being able to party as much. So Tony Stewart went with the Home Depot tribute to students in a one-of-a-kind Back to School paint scheme.
27. 2004 No.97 Kurt Busch, Sharpie
Using a marker for a sponsor is scary because it is, well, a marker. But it worked in 2004 when Kurt Busch went with Sharpie’s black and gold paint scheme.
26. 2006 No.07 Clint Bowyer, DirecTV
Clint Bowyer has driven several cars worthy of being named on these lists but unfortunately, only one of them made the cut, the No.07 DirecTV.
25. 2007 No.43 Bobby Labonte, General Mills Characters
As we mentioned earlier about Terry Labonte, the entire Labonte family had some great sponsorships during their NASCAR days including this one dedicated to all the General Mills characters.
24. 2003 No.6 Mark Martin, Viagra
Viagra as a sponsor for a NASCAR race? Sure, why not? Most of the men watching these races have been doing so since birth. It only shows that they truly know their audience. Now, not that we care, but is Mark Martin just cashing checks or does he also use the blue rocket?
23. 2002 No.0 Jim Inglebright, Jelly BellyEmbed from Getty Images
Jelly Belly jelly beans on a NASCAR are as creative as, well, Velveeta macaroni and cheese…
22. 2007 N0.40 David Stremme, Target “Halo 3”
Remember when Halo was still the best video game in the World? In 2007, it was one of the biggest sellers of the gaming market so David Stremme and Target decided to help increase sales of the newest game set to be released that week.
21. 2002 No.40 Sterling Marlin, Coors LightEmbed from Getty Images
Sterling Marlin is one of NASCAR’s hardest working drivers, ever. He rocked the Coors Light paint scheme for many races too.
20. 2002 No.2 Rusty Wallace, Miller Lite “Elvis Tribute”
Giving a tribute to the King himself isn’t as easy as it sounds but Rusty Wallace took his chance with this Miller Lite No.2 vehicle.
19. 2004 No.38 Elliott Sadler, M&M’s Black & White
Kyle Busch turned M&M’s into a beautiful paint scheme and sponsor but before his time with the candy company, it was Elliott Sadler in this No.38 monochrome colored car.
18. 2007 No.00 David Reutimann, Burger King “Simpsons”
David Reutimann took his Burger King sponsorship to a whole new level when he went with the Simpsons paint scheme back in 2007 to honor the opening of their movie.
17. 2006 No.29 Kevin Harvick, Hershey’sEmbed from Getty Images
Nothing says chocolate candy like Hershey’s. Even the car looked good enough to eat.
16. 2008 No.21 Bill Elliott, Wood Brothers
Although this car never saw the actual Sprint Cup track, it was still used during the qualifying and practicing runs during the Dayonta 500 in 2008.
15. 2007 No.83 Brian Vickers, Red Bull
Brian Vickers came onto the scene with Red Bull paying his way. It seemed as if this was going to be a longtime car but it didn’t last but a few years. It was great when it lasted, needless to say.
14. 2005 No.41 Casey Mears, Target
A pink Target stock car means one thing, breast cancer month.
13. 2002 No.88 Dale Jarrett, UPS
Dale Jarrett was fun to watch but it was his No.88 Ford UPS that was almost just as fun.
12. 2000 No.2 Rusty Wallace, Miller Lite “Harley Davidson”
It’s hard to believe that Harley Davidson hasn’t been a major sponsor in NASCAR ever. So when Rusty Wallace honored them with the Miller Lite tribute, it became an instant hit.
11. 2002 No.11 Brett Bodine, HootersEmbed from Getty Images
As we just mentioned, it is tough to see Harley-Davidson and Hooters not being bigger sponsors of NASCAR. Brett Bodine was one of the few drivers to ever sport the Hooters paint scheme. Alan Kulwicki was another.
10. 2007 No.88 Ricky Rudd, Snickers
No one knows for sure why but the No.88 Snickers driven by Ricky Rudd was one of the coolest cars ever, not just in the 2000’s. But why isn’t it higher on the list?
9. 2008 No.24 Jeff Gordon, Nicorette
Maybe it is because there are so many great ones from the past 15 years that it is just too tough to determine the best. Like when Jeff Gordon went to the neon green for Nicorette back in 2008.
8. 2006 No.8 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Budweiser Retro EditionEmbed from Getty Images
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular driver ever thanks to his father’s legacy. He isn’t that bad, he just isn’t as good as his father but he knows how to own a crowd.
7. 2005 No.2 Rusty Wallace, Miller Genuine Draft
It is as simple as black on black with the sponsorship logo on the hood that earned Rusty Wallace’s No.2 back in 2005 a spot on this list.
6. 2000 No.3 Dale Earnhardt Sr., Peter MaxEmbed from Getty Images
Dale Earnhardt Sr. was more of a Goodwrench or Wrangler Jeans paint scheme, not the rainbow colored Peter Max he drove in 2000. So besides the oddity of seeing the legend drive such a different paint scheme than we are used to, the car itself was incredible.
5. 2001 No.5 Terry Labonte, Frosted Flakes
Terry Labonte had the best NASCAR paint scheme of 2001 when he had Tony the Tiger painted across the bottom. The tiger stripes were one of his all-time best paint schemes as much as it was just in 2001.
4. 2002 No.32 Ricky Craven, TideEmbed from Getty Images
There is nothing more classic than the Tide paint scheme. So many drivers rocked the Tide sponsorship but Ricky Craven won with the 2002 version.
3. 2005 No.29 Kevin Harvick, Reese’s Pieces
There are just some cars that are painted so beautifully that you can’t help but want to take a giant bite out of them. When Kevin Harvick drove the Reese’s Pieces No.29, all anyone could think about was that E.T. snack food.
2. 2008 No.8 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bud “Dale Sr. Tribute”
In one of the best looking tribute stock cars ever created, Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove this all black Budweiser No.8 in honor of his late father.
1. 2009 No.24 Jeff Gordon, Pepsi “Retro Edition”
It is hardly a mystery as to which Jeff Gordon paint scheme would be the best. The Pepsi retro edition is one of the sleekest and smoothest paint schemes this man has ever driven. It just might be the greatest of all-time.