Kurt Busch's Darlington throwback scheme revealed

Stewart-Haas Racing and Kurt Busch have unveiled a throwback livery to the closest NASCAR Cup series finish of all-time ahead of the 2018 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

Kurt Busch's Darlington throwback scheme revealed
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Ricky Craven takes the victory ahead of Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation
Kurt Busch leads Todd Bodine and Ricky Rudd
Ricky Craven edges Kurt Busch for the win by mere inches
Pitstop for Kurt Busch

The livery, replicating the 2003 Roush Fenway Racing No. 97 Ford, is to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Busch’s defeat to Ricky Craven by a margin of 0.002 seconds.

The new livery makes it the fourth year in a row that SHR has hosted a throwback livery, following on from Clint Bowyer’s tribute to NASCAR hall of fame driver Mark Martin.

Craven’s victory in 2003, the final win of his Cup career, came after a scintillating two-lap duel with Busch in his breakout season.

Busch would then go on to win his only Cup championship in 2004, while Craven retired at the end of ’06.

The SHR driver says that the Darlington defeat was a special occasion.

“That’s what my heart told me, that we had done something special, but I didn’t know to the magnitude of what,” he said.

“That was just the true racer in me coming out because there are racers that we’ve raced with and flat-out dumped because we didn’t like the guy or the situation that they put us in and yeah, you want to fight, but that one there was special.”

Busch added that the historical significance of that moment was lost on him at the time.

“I didn’t know that it was as big of a moment in the interview or at that time.

“I was defeated by a guy that outsmarted me and there was the respect side of it too, with just two true racers — a New England boy, a desert-Southwest guy — racing each other, and we threw everything and the kitchen sink at each other but didn’t wreck each other, and I liked that.

“It was OK to lose because of the respect that we had for each other on the track.”

Craven looks back on that historic day

Craven’s Darlington win was his second career Cup win and says he is impressed by Busch’s respect for the defeat.

“The champions and the future champions of NASCAR have this relentless desire and they don’t apologize, and they don’t apologize for driving their heart out. And Kurt had that.

“I had it at an early age, but the fact of the matter is, I didn’t realize it then but my best years were behind me.

“I have this respect for Kurt, not just because of that day, but I’ve watched him grow and become the person he is, but he’s been very generous in reliving that last couple of laps.

“And I don’t know anybody that could be as good as he’s been about all this. It’s just remarkable to me how sincere you’ve been, how much you’ve embraced it and I really appreciate it.”

The closest finish record still stands in the Cup series, although The record for closest finish in NASCAR’s national series competition fell at the beginning of 2018.

Tyler Reddick edged team-mate Elliott Sadler by .0004s in the Xfinity Series opener at Daytona.

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