The throwback weekend that Darlington Raceway instituted for last year's Bojangles' Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend was an instant hit and this year's race promises to be even better.
Tuesday afternoon at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it was Joe Gibbs Racing's turn to unveil its fourth and final throwback car and it was a stunner: At Darlington, Matt Kenseth will drive the Tide PODS Toyota Camry, with a bright orange and yellow paint scheme like the ones made famous by Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and Ricky Craven.
So far, Tide's return to NASCAR is a one-race-only primary sponsorship deal, but the hope is the iconic brand might do more in the future.
Tide will also serve as an associate sponsor on the remaining three JGR Toyotas of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards at Darlington, and Busch, Carl Edwards and Kenseth will carry Tide as an associate for the following two events at Chicagoland Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.
Collectively, Waltrip, Rudd and Craven, won 20 races with Tide sponsorship from 1987 to 2006. There was Waltrip's famous "Ickey Shuffle" Victory Lane dance following his Daytona 500 win in 1989; Rudd gutting out a win at the 1997 Brickyard 400; and Craven capturing the closest win in the sport's history (.002 seconds) at Darlington in 2003.
"It's always cool to bring a new sponsor into the sport, or a sponsor that used to be in the sport back into the sport. They've been gone for more than a decade," said Kenseth. "Tide PODS is a new generation of Tide, and coming back in the sport for the throwback weekend -- it really is a neat thing. We put a lot of time and energy and money into this deal and I think everybody's excited about it."