Dale Jr. to run his "favorite paint scheme of all-time" at Darlington

The gray ghost will be returning to the track in this year's Southern 500, continuing the newfound tradition of throwback weekend at the historic speedway.

It won't be spooking the competition on the high banks of Daytona, but it will definitely turn heads come this Labor Day weekend.

The livery was one made famous by Buddy Baker, who passed away last August at the age of 74. Leading up to the 1980 Daytona 500, the competition complained that because of the color scheme on his Oldsmobile, they wouldn't notice the car sneaking up behind them, which earned it the moniker of 'gray ghost.'

NASCAR had Baker trim the car with red in order to make it easier for others to see. It didn't help them come race day though with the gray ghost leading 143 of 200 laps, winning The Great American Race. To this very day, it is the fastest 500 every run.

In 2016, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is bringing the famous colors back to life in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. "It's my favorite paint scheme of all time in the sport," he said during today's unveiling.

"He was completely a unique asset to the sport," Jr. said of Baker's broadcasting career." Rarely do we get guys who continue to give to the sport beyond their career as a driver.

"He was always very nice. Like they say, he was the gentle giant. He was always very nice to me."

This won't the first time he's run the gray ghost paint scheme either. In 2008, he competed with a similar paint scheme in the annual NASCAR All-Star Race. And his 2016 Nationwide look may be different colors, but the design is a nod to the original gray ghost as well.

"It's just fun to have the opportunity to honor him. I'm glad Darlington is here and it's the place we come to enjoy history. And I'm glad that they created the throwback weekend to give us the opportunity to do these things. I love doing old paint schemes.

"This is something that will be part of Darlington for many, many years. I hope when teams prepare for Darlington, they bring their history with them."

Additional reporting by Lee Spencer

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Buddy Baker
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Article type Breaking news
Tags gray ghost