Cup Series Paint Schemes - 2023

Jacob Craigo

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Hello Armory Digital forumites! Welcome to my racing universe, the world of the National Stock-Car Association. For those of you know don't know, the NSCA is an alternative-historic take on American motorsports that features a mixture of original characters and fellow members of the NR community. Now while that's a decent gimmick for an offline league such as this by itself, it's also been done before, so there is a secondary twist to the whole thing, that being that there are anthropomorphic characters (more commonly known as furry characters) mixed in with humans. Yeah, I know, it's weird, but trust me when I say that just because that is a part of the league does not mean it is it's main focus. The main focus of doing this league is to simulate racing at the highest caliber and in a way to get my creative, story-telling brain to keep a consistent narrative across the lore of the league all while also having fun playing (or rather, simulating races in) NR2003. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it's frustrating. But I haven't stopped before, and I don't plan to anytime soon.

And now, for a lore/history lesson!

The National Stock-Car Association is the culmination of over 70 years of American motorsports ranging back all the way to the early post-war days in the late 1940's. Initially, it was the National Racer's Club in the north, the American Stock-Car Association in the south, and later on in the West, the Automobile Racing Group of America. On the Eastern seaboard, it was a massive rivalry between the NRC and ASCA, while ARGA had been dominating the West uncontested. However, in the 1970s, the United States faced a massive oil crisis, seeing a major toll taken on the race teams of all three organizations. This led to the NRC and ASCA merging together, creating the NSCA in 1975. Meanwhile, ARGA barely scraped by and restructured itself into the American Stock-Car Racing Club, or ASCRC for short, and became a starting point for many of today's top stock-car drivers.

With 2023 being it's 48th season since it's inception in 1975 and inaugural season in 1976, the NSCA's top level of competition - the NSCA Cup Series - is amidst a titanic fight for the championship in 2022, where 2-time champion Steven Merzlak and Jacob Craigo are currently locked in a tight battle for the points lead. While that fight continues, fans, teams, & drivers have much to look forward to in 2023, as a new era for the series will begin. A new title sponsor in Fastenal replacing the outgoing Google, a new generation of race car, and a 6th manufacturer entering the sport are the headlines of the year.


Meanwhile, familiar faces will be stepping away from the sport. The biggest names being John Mullen & Jennifer Legacy, though they are not the only ones. There will be new drivers coming up to the top level to replace the outgoing drivers, the largest story being the Reinhardt name returning to full-time competition in 2023. Erica Reinhardt - Grandniece of the late Eric Reinhardt (whom she is also named after) - will be in the series driving for Bledsoe Bros. Racing.


Here's the list of credits for the entire 2023 carset so that I don't have to copy/paste this in every individual post:
Templates:
-Chevy, Dodge & Ford: FCRD (Modified by me)
-Toyota: FCRD & SRD (transferred from NXS20 template to NCS22 template by me)
-Pontiac: FCRD, Lefty & BER (Transferred from MENCS19 & BRGen6 templates to NCS22 template by me)
-Mercedes: FCRD & NCD Designs (Modified by me)
-Generic: FCRD, GWoodward41, & BillA1947 (Modified by me)
Logos: BER, Masgrafx, SRD, Google, ModSquad, SDG, SHD, TN Designs, Stunod, Codemasters, iRacing and Myself
Numbers and Number Sets: BER, Masgrafx, SRD, NNRacing, and Stunod
Car Bases: Myself, Paint-By-RAH, Stunod, and Steven Merzlak
Drivers:
-Original Template: SnG
-Driver Face: CozyCat Studios (Modified and adapted by me)
-Helmet Parts: Lefty, Myself & Bobbyfly
Renders: Myself (unless otherwise stated), Scene modified from one of James Hodge's




And to start us off..... An expansion on what was hopefully a popular addition to the 2022 season carset: NSCA Legends! Not only are all 10 historic drivers featured in the 2022 set returning, but several are expanded upon, and even more drivers have been added. Not only that, but era-appropriate (not necessarily accurate-to-real life) contigs are featured on the cars rather than just the bare minimum of the series and Pole award decals! And for the schemes that had inaccurate logos, those will be as close to accurate as possible if I am able to find the necessary resources.

#3 | Eric Reinhardt
Team: Burlington Racing
Active Seasons: 1979-2001 (Debuted in 1977)
Starts: 621
Wins: 76 | 5-Time Cup Series Champion, 1998 Daytona 500 Champion

This year, we're starting off with Eric Reinhardt. Now, my league's lore/history is filled with drivers that range from "unique and not based on anyone in particular", such as Randy Carpenter to "Is literally just a stand-in for a real life counterpart with maybe a couple of changed statistics". As you might've guessed by looking at the stats for Eric Reinhardt, he is my Dale Earnhardt Sr. stand-in, and had a pretty similar career, albeit with only 5 championships to his credit compared to Earnhardt's 7. Sadly, existing in a fictional alternate-history world doesn't spare Eric from sharing Dale's fate in the 2001 Daytona 500, a tragedy that NASCAR has been able to prevent from further happening in real life for it's top 3 nationally-touring series...... The NSCA? Not as lucky. More on that with a later driver, however.


Schemes:
1984 Wrangler - After winning the 1982 championship, Eric Reinhardt's team owner sold off the team for a quick buck, leaving the young champion to scramble just to stay in the sport he loved. After taking a mid-field ride in 1983 just to remain afloat, he got the call up to join Burlington Racing - owned by former driver Nelson Burlington - and drive the #3 for 1984 onwards. And as they say, the rest was history. 4 more championships, countless wins, and the 1998 Daytona 500 all started here with this scheme.

3ER_1_1984Wrangler.png



1995 Goodwrench (All-Star Race) - While the 1992 Winston may have been "One Hot Night" in real life, that honor didn't happen in the NSCA universe until 1995. Thus, Burlington and Reinhardt decided to run a special "reverse" scheme to make it an even more special occasion. Series title sponsor Clayton Cigarettes even joined in by becoming the title sponsor for the race, too. Previously, the race was just called the "Winner's Classic", but in 1995 all the way to 2003, it would be called "The Clayton". Reinhardt would win up finishing in 3rd behind Evan Miller and Wayne Jefferson.

3ER_2_1995Goodwrench.png



1998 Goodwrench (Daytona 500) - C'mon..... How could I not include this scheme when expanding the number of historic schemes to recreate? We all know the TV call of the finish: "20 years of trying....." With an expansion of the Goodwrench brand that came about late in 1997, GM decided to plaster it across the hood of Eric Reinhardt's #3 car. Unlike Dale, however, it was a hard-fought battle for the win, and there was no caution to race back to.

3ER_3_1998Goodwrench.png



1998 Coca-Cola (Japan) - After the 1998 season concluded, many of the teams traveled to the land of the rising sun for the 3rd annual exhibition event at the Suzuka Circuit. Unlike previous years, however, Reinhardt would be ditching his famous black and silver for Candy Red and Black instead, as Coca-Cola was the sponsor for his #3 Chevy. Not only that, but he also would be competing against his son, Eric Reinhardt Jr in the #1 car, also sponsored by Coca-Cola. The younger driver would prevail, finishing 7th while the elder Reinhardt would finish 11th.

3ER_4_1998Japan.png



2000 Goodwrench (Clayton 500) - The first of the two schemes returning from the 2022 set, this one has had it's history explained before.... For the lazy (or forgetful): Eric Reinhardt shares his real-life counterpart's final win at Talladega on October 15th, 2000 - exacty 22 years ago at time of posting. Coming from 18th and charging to the front in only 7 laps was something few could ever do, and Reinhardt was one of the few to pull it off. Taking no prisoners, and giving no quarter, Eric was able to edge out Wayne Foster after getting a push from Trace Legacy in the final run to the line.

3ER_5_2000Goodwrench.png



2001 Oreo/Goodwrench (Budweiser Shootout) - In 2001, Nabisco partnered up with both Sr. and Jr. to promote various products over the course of the year. Sr. primarily through the Oreo brand while Jr primarily had Ritz. This partnership started with a semi-hybrid scheme for the 2001 Bud Shootout, where the Oreo colors replaced the usual red of Reinhardt's scheme, and had the Oreo logo predominantly featured on the hood of the car. Eric would finish in 4th in the Shootout.... Unbeknownst to the racing world at the time, this would be the final time he would ever see the checkered flag.....

3ER_6_2001Shootout.png



2001 Goodwrench (Daytona 500) - ..... And well all know the reason why. The final ever car Reinhardt would race. Trailing behind his son on the final lap, holding back everyone he could so Eric Jr could try and pass Randy Carpenter for the win. Contact running through turns 3 and 4 sent the #3 head-on into the outside wall, collecting the #36 of Ronald Webb......

3ER_7_2001Goodwrench.png



2001 Goodwrench Reverse (Memorium) - The news broke Monday morning. The racing world mourned. The sport's biggest star has just passed. But the community had to move on. There was a race in 6 days at Rockingham. Jack Metoria was announced as an intermittent replacement, and the car was renumbered to #15. The scheme below has two meanings. It was originally going to be run in the 2001 All-Star race, the 5th consecutive season with a special scheme in that race, and 6th since the tradition started in 1995. Now, it serves as a memorial to one of the greatest drivers to have raced in the NSCA.

3ER_8_2001Memorium.png





So I plan on doing short summaries of the histories of the various schemes for historic drivers, in case y'all couldn't tell. However, for the "official" drivers, the schemes won't have any significance pointed out.
 
#23 | Elana Keshiel
Team: Red Bull Racing
Rookie Season: 2018
Starts: 148
Career Wins: 0
Top Fives: 7
Top Tens: 23

Despite Red Bull's recent struggles to get up to speed, Elana Keshiel has shown consistency where her teammates have not. Switching to Toyota for the 2023 season and downsizing to a single car operation, RBR hopes that this slight restructuring can help build the team into a winning organization in the near future.....

In 2023, Red Bull continues to run as primary sponsor for itself. However, the downsizing to a single car means that Alpha Tauri will become a secondary sponsor for Kehsiel. Walmart will also have a B2B deal for a few races next year, though the races where the scheme will run are TBA.

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#33 | Thadore Keen
Team: McLaren Racing
Rookie Season: 2021
Starts: 58
Career Wins: 0
Top Fives: 3
Top Tens: 14

In 2023, German automotive manufacturer Mercedes will enter the sport of American stock-car racing, and one of the teams to jump aboard the OEM's program will be McLaren Racing. Thadore Keen will return to the #33 car for the British racing team, with a new look in the coming season. McLaren hopes that they can break out of the midfield and see more consistent top ten finishes in 2023......

Arrow will return as primary sponsor for McLaren Racing and Thadore Keen in 2023, as will Gulf. Huski Chocolate leaves the team, however, Google will come aboard the #33 Mercedes to replace the drink company.

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#24 | Wayne Jefferson
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Active Seasons: 1993-2015 (Debuted in 1992)
Starts: 795
Wins: 92 | 4-Time Cup Series Champion, 3-Time Daytona 500 Champion


The next driver to add to the list of Legends included in the set is Wayne Jefferson, my Jeff Gordon stand-in. He started as the hero to Eric Sr.'s "villain" persona. In the 2000s, Jefferson became the villain himself, but eventually saw himself back to being the hero in fans' eyes in the 2010s. In the late 90s and early 2000s, he pretty much became the face of the NSCA, and was one of the few recognizable drivers to those who didn't follow the sport. Wayne became such a racing icon, that he was even rumored to race in Formula 1 at some point, though these rumors turned out to be false. In any case, Wayne Jefferson is celebrated in the community, and while he wasn't able to get the championship count of other greats like Homer Parsley and Randy Carpenter, Wayne has stated that he is more than content with what he's accomplished during his career....


Schemes:
1998 DuPont - To this day, no one has gotten close to the numbers set by Wayne Jefferson in 1998 in NSCA history. Of the 34 races that year, Wayne found himself in victory lane a staggering 12 times - 13 if you count the All-Star Race. Unfortunately, while the records he set in 1998 would've seen him be champion, he also had a large DNF count that offset his fight for the title enough to where he would be 4th at season's end behind Trace Legacy, Randy Carpenter, and Evan Miller.
24WJ_1_1998DuPont.png


1998 DuPont (All-Star Race) - One example of just how dominant Jefferson was in '98 can be taken from the one race where it didn't matter - the 1998 Clayton at Charlotte Motor Speedway. George McReilly started on pole and led the first two laps, but Wayne Jefferson led ever single lap after that. The moment the victory celebrations were over, NSCA officials outright banned the car from ever running again, and closed most of the loopholes Wayne's crew chief Ken Blastham had exploited. Even with an engine failure just past the halfway mark the next week in the 600, the smile on the crew member's faces would not go away after the All-Star win.
24WJ_2_1998AllStar.png


2003 Pepsi - While Wayne Jefferson was never able to replicate the dominant success he had in the 1998 season - especially after Ken Blastham had left Hendrick Motorsports to start his own race team - there were still races where Wayne seemed to be the driver to beat with the car to match. In the 2003 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, Wayne ran a special Pepsi-sponsored scheme (albeit with Dupont still taking most of the sponsorship spots). In this same race, he would lead over half the laps and go on to win by a few seconds over Bobby Richards in a thrilling fuel-mileage gamble.
24WJ_3_2003Pepsi.png


2005 DuPont - While Jefferson had ran the flames since 2001, we focus on the 2005 season specifically as it's the first "bad" season Wayne had in his career. With no wins and an 11th place points finish, speculation was rampant about how the 2004 champion had fallen off the cliff when it came to the 05 season. Everything from the standard championship hangover, to more wild rumors such as a cheating scandal and drug abuse were thrown around. What everyone failed to notice however - due to everyone focusing on Jefferson - was that Hendrick Motorsports as a whole had a slump of a year that season.
24WJ_4_2005DuPont.png


2009 DuPont - In 2009, the now classic flames were given a facelift in their design, though the core elements of the scheme remained similar to the iteration of the previous 8 years. By this point, Hendrick had varying degrees of leveling out (or increase in) performance since the 2005/2006 seasons, and 2009 continued that trend as it was a mixed bag for the organization that year. Despite coming off of what would wind of being his final championship, Wayne had another championship hangover, though not as bad as his one from 2005. 3 wins, 4 poles, and a respectable about of top 5s and top 10s with a 6th place points finish.
24WJ_5_2009DuPont.png
 
#80 | Jennsen Nomina
Team: Craigo Autosport
Rookie Season: 2021
Starts: 51
Career Wins: 0
Top Fives: 0
Top Tens: 4

After Red Bull announced that they would downsize their Cup Series organization to a single car team for 2023, Irishman Jennsen Nomina found himself without a ride.... That was, until he got a call to join Craigo Autosport following the announcement of Ricki Fawxson's departure at the end of 2022. While he doesn't have much in the stat block, Craigo Autosport has a history of signing talented drivers who otherwise might've been just another footnote in the history of the sport, and growing their potential.

Jennsen Nomina moves over to race for Craigo Autosport in 2023 after it was announced late into the season that Ricki Fawxson would part ways with the team after driving for them for two seasons. State Farm and Circle K both return as primary sponsors for the young Irishman. McDonald's moves over from the #62 to the renumbered #80 for 2023 with a new look based around the recent rebranding.


80JN_1StateFarm.png


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#80 | Jennsen Nomina
Team: Craigo Autosport
Rookie Season: 2021
Starts: 51
Career Wins: 0
Top Fives: 0
Top Tens: 4

After Red Bull announced that they would downsize their Cup Series organization to a single car team for 2023, Irishman Jennsen Nomina found himself without a ride.... That was, until he got a call to join Craigo Autosport following the announcement of Ricki Fawxson's departure at the end of 2022. While he doesn't have much in the stat block, Craigo Autosport has a history of signing talented drivers who otherwise might've been just another footnote in the history of the sport, and growing their potential.


Jennsen Nomina moves over to race for Craigo Autosport in 2023 after it was announced late into the season that Ricki Fawxson would part ways with the team after driving for them for two seasons. State Farm and Circle K both return as primary sponsors for the young Irishman. McDonald's moves over from the #62 to the renumbered #80 for 2023 with a new look based around the recent rebranding.


80JN_1StateFarm.png


80JN_2McDonalds.png


80JN_3CircleK.png
Why does the StateFarm scheme have the wing and not the spoiler like the others?
 
Arrow will return as primary sponsor for McLaren Racing and Thadore Keen in 2023, as will Gulf.....

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M O T H E R F U --

Welp, time for backup plans! Instead of Gulf, DeWalt Tools will be the secondary sponsor for Thadore in 2023, while new McLaren Partner Jack Daniels will appear as a new, 4th sponsor.

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#56 | Elana Mullen
Team: Prince Racing
Active Seasons: 1981-1989 (Debuted in 1979)
Starts: 192
Wins: 3 | 1985 Daytona 500 Champion

Elana Mullen wasn't the first female driver to participate in a Cup Series event.... Hell, she wasn't even the first female driver to win a race! However, that hasn't stopped many of today's female drivers from naming Elana Mullen and her story as what inspired them to become a racecar driver. Elana didn't come from South-Centeral Nowhere though. Born as Elana Krenic in 1957, Her father was a mechanic for one of the NRC's open-wheel series teams. Having been around racing pretty much all her life because of this, Elana eventually began racing in her late teens. It wasn't easy, after all this is 1970's America we're talking about. Elana had to practically fight for every opportunity she got early on in her career. Once she entered in the Sportsman division, however, things changed. She began to win races and consistently run up front each race. After a couple of years, she tried to break through into the Cup Series, with limited success. She did have to take a break in 1980, however, as by this point, she had met Zachary Mullen (who competed in NHRA drag racing), married him, and together had a child - John Mullen, whom would go on to have success in the Cup Series himself..... Afterwards, while Elana wouldn't compete in every race each season, she would race what was more or less considered full-time from 1981 through to 1988. While she would run in the back half of the top 10 in most races, it seemed like that's where she would stay. After all, this is the same time period in which Eric Reinhardt, Homer Parsley, Chandler Riles, and a slew of other more dominant and successful drivers were all competing as well. No one would've thought that Elana would win a race in her career, even though she clearly had the talent to race. She would eventually break through, winning the 1985 Daytona 500. Over the course of the next couple of seasons, she was able to earn another two victories. Unfortunately, Elana would be killed in a crash at Talladega in 1989, cutting short what many would've considered a successful career.....


Schemes:
1985 7-Eleven - In 1985's season-opening Daytona 500, Elana Mullen would become the first female driver to win the biggest event in all of stock-car racing, and to this day is the only female driver to have done so. Today, a multitude of female drivers compete on a weekly basis, and as mentioned earlier, attribute Elana Mullen as the reason they started racing. Elana's son, John Mullen, would not only become a Cup Series driver himself, but also managed to get his own Daytona 500 victory, and a Cup Series championship to boot during his career. While it is generally agreed that while Elana might not have ever been a champion of the sport herself, it is agreed that she does have something a lot of other drivers don't: A legacy in the sport that is continued even to this day..... The scheme presented for her in the Legends sub-set is the one she drove for most of the 1985 season, including that Daytona 500 victory.
56EK_1_19857-Eleven.png
 
#56 | John Mullen
Teams: Wolfpack Racing (2001) & Craigo Autosport
Active Seasons: 2002-2016, 2018-2022 (Debuted 2001)
Starts: 688
Wins: 18 | 2016 NSCA Cup Series Champion, 2011 Daytona 500 Winner


20 years. Longer than many member of this very site has been alive. That is how long John Mullen's full-time career has been in the Cup Series. At the conclusion of the 2022 season, however, that all comes to an end. Son of the late Elana Mullen, John started his NSCA days for Ying Yang Racing in the late 1990s in the Truck Series. Out performing in the equipment, he caught the eye of Dillon Grayson, a former crew chief of Prince Racing, who went on to form his own team in 1999 - Wolfpack Racing. In 2000, Grayson hired Mullen to race for him in the National Series, with a part-time jump to Cup happening just the next year with a debut in the 2001 Daytona 500. In 2002, John went full-time with Wolfpack..... And as they say, the rest is history. Unfortunately, the team would begin to struggle financially in 2005 following the death of the team's founder, and by 2008 the team was on the verge of shutting down before being bough out by Blastham Motorsports, which was then shut down only two years later. After 2005, John Mullen moved to Eric Reinhardt Inc. to race there for 2006, only to be kicked from the team after only 2 years, after which he ran for Furniture Row Racing and Eight Eight Motorsports until he landed at Craigo Autosport - at the time known as Jacob Craigo Racing - ahead of the 2014 Cup season. In 2014, the team also rebranded as Craigo Racing Inc., and had instant success between the two. In 2011, driving for the aforementioned Eight Eight Motorsports John Mullen would make a mark on not only his own legacy, but the legacy of his mother, too, as he would earn his own Daytona 500 victory. Then in 2016, while racing for CRI, John would finally break through and win the Cup Series Championship. Prior to the 2017 season, however, John would suddenly announce that he would take the year off from racing, personal demons from his past as well as personal inquires surrounding his mother's death were the reasons given. In 2018, he returned to CRI, now once again driving the #56 Dodge that he started with in 2002. In 2020, he moved to Hendrick Motorsports, where he would remain until his retirement.


Schemes:
2002 Circle K - When Wolfpack Racing started out in the Cup Series, John obviously would need a sponsor. When Circle K stepped up, they thought it would last a while, but unfortunately, it only lasted a single season. The reasons behind the split were never made public, but it's rumored that one party didn't like how the other handled things, and the story on what things were being handled or which party disliked who changed from source to source. It looked like a decent partnership from the outside though, and it did give the team the opportunity to attract larger and better partners......
56JK_1_2002CircleK.png


2003 Coca-Cola - And attract a bigger partner Wolfpack did! Coca-Cola would come aboard the #56 Dodge for 2003 and 2004, despite Pepsi being the "official soft drink of the NSCA" at the time. At the time, fans would joke about how John was the "kid-friendly" version of Eric Reinhardt Jr., being that they both drove candy-red colored cars with a beverage sponsor on it, due to Eric having Budweiser (Beer) while John ran with Coca-Cola (Soda).
56JK_2_2003Coca-Cola.png


2003 Goodyear - Coke wasn't the only sponsor for John to nab in 2003. Goodyear also decided to expand it's partnership with the NSCA by sponsoring John for the 2003 season. Unlike Coke, this would only last the one year.
56JK_2_2003Goodyear.png


2005 EA Sports - In late 2004, Dillon Grayson suffered a fatal heart attack, leaving his son, William, to run the team. On top of that, Coca-Cola had reduced their sponsorship to purely as a personal sponsor of John's. Other associate sponsors left, and Dodge started to reduce manufacturer support in favor of other teams. Wolfpack Racing was hurting badly...... Electronic Arts, meanwhile, needed a new platform to advertise to the motorsport market, seeing as how they had just lost the licenses to both Indycar and Formula 1 over the past couple of years, and really only had the NSCA left. Thus, they jumped aboard the #56, and would advertise that year's game on it: NSCA 06: Chase for the Cup. It was a bad year for everyone involved, and as mentioned earlier, John would move teams a few times in the intervening 13 between 2005 and 2018......
56JK_2_2005EASports.png


2018 McDonald's - And when John returned, he would wind up back where he started, albeit with a more willing sponsor. He would go on to finish 8th in 2018, showing that a year off didn't hurt him all that much, though that would be literally where he finished every season from then on, with exception to 2019 where he would finish 9th......
56JK_2_2018McDonalds.png




John Mullen is probably my first actual "Original Character", outside of any self-instertation I would do as a kid. He's evolved quite a bit over the years. Hell, even some of the above backstory for him was changed even as recently as a couple years ago when I was trying to sort everything for the history and lore of the NSCA out. Sure, he may have technically retired last year, but he is the oldest of the characters I have, and I figured I would try to give him a proper send-off ahead of the first real season I would do without him (technically, 2017 counts as well, but since he returned in 2018, that became null/void). Hell, just thinking about how long John has been one of my characters makes ME fell old, and I'm just about to turn 27 in less than three months (at time of posting). Unlike some other cars, I decided to take my time with these. Crafting them carefully and to make them actually look right, and I'm proud of them. All of these cars (with the exception to the Coca-Cola car) use bases that I made, for bonus points. What started out as a fictional what-if half-brother for myself, became something different, something detached from me and of it's own value... Something..... More..... There have been many stories I wanted to share with the world during my life, and some of them I still do. John's story has been one of the few I got to share, and one of the fewer still that I have "completed".


To anyone reading who has their own stories, their own worlds to transport one's imagination to, and want to release them for others to enjoy..... Know this: Someone out there will always appreciate your work, your craft, your creativity...... Someone out there will take time out of their day to go "that's awesome!", even if they otherwise wouldn't comment or interact with your media. So keep creating, and keep inspiring others to create as well.....
 
#48 | Cody Llamas
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Rookie Season: 2002 (Debuted in 2001)
Starts: 713
Career Wins: 73 | 2006 Daytona 500 Champion, 4x Cup Series Champion ('06, '13, '17, '22)
Top Fives: 95
Top Tens: 164

Champion once again! Now a 4-time winner of the Cup Series championship, Cody Llamas has not shown any signs of slowing down, even though he now enters his 22nd full-time season. With Ally and Kelly Blue Book aboard his #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy, Cody looks to continue his recent run on domination. But with a new generation of car, and eager rivals looking to dethrone him, 2023 will certainly see an intense fight for the title!

He's your NEW defending champion..... His career is most certainly a first-ballot hall of fame guarantee..... He's won just about everything there is to win across multiple different NR2003 league universes..... And this year, he looks to continue doing it! Cody Llamas will continue to have Ally as his primary sponsor - however, with John Mullen having retired from racing - Kelly Blue Book will move over to replace Carvana as his secondary sponsor.

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Apologies for the lack of updates in this thread for the last almost 2 months. I have been dealing with some issues in my personal life and with my mental health that has gotten in the way of doing some of the things I initially wanted to do for this set - mainly doing the driver images for each driver as I did their respective cars. That aspect has been held off on until further decision on what I want to do with them, as I had came up with an updated art style for the driver images that required me to start from scratch practically with how drivers looked.

For context, I made a preset base template so that I can easily just swap out the driver body, suit logos, team logos, head shape, ear type (if anthro), nose shape, tail shape (if anthro), eye shape, eyebrow shape, arm posing, etc., then filling the base colors for everything, and go from there on making it look like an actual person. Between having to design the suit (usually matching it as best I can to what I did for the driver suit on the car files), creating the hair style for each driver and coloring that, and if they're an anthro character getting the fur pattern done all takes at least 2 hours to do if I want to make it look decent. If I rush and don't care as much about the quality, about an hour and a half. The time and effort I would've had to put in to create 42 drivers in total while keeping up with everyone's paint schemes was just not worth it. Creating more and more cars and increasing the list of drivers I would've had to make just to consistent update this thread led to me not updating this thread, along with contributing somewhat to my mental health struggles.

So until later on, once I decide on what I want to do with the driver images and the direction I want to take them in, I'm just not going to worry about it for the purposes of posting updates to this thread (or it's twin on Stunod's forum). From here on out, it will just be text like it has been for the Legend drivers and for everyone last year. For the sake of consistency between all 2023 season posts, I have also updated the 4 drivers I've already made posts about to just have their stats and the paragraph that I initially wrote for the driver bio images replacing the driver bio images. The stats have also been updated to be as of post-2022.


Regular updates to this thread are soon to come!
 
#7 | Elana Keero
Team: Steven Merzlak Racing
Rookie Season: 2019
Starts: 112
Wins: 7
Top 5s: 30
Top 10s: 52

2022 was Elana Keero's best statistical season, notching 3 wins, 11 top fives, and 18 top 10s, as well as 4 poles including the season-opening Daytona 500! While she wasn't on the near-perfect form that her team owner was, she was well within the championship fight and at one point was even the favorite entering the middle portion of the season. In the end she would wind up 5th in the standings. Unfortunately for Elana, a 10 place jump from where she was in 2021 was apparently not good enough for FedEx, who have decided to switch focus on a driver that was fighting for the championship the last three years running - Steven Merzlak, the owner of Elana's team. On top of that, Armor All, who has backed Elana since her days in the NSCA GearWrench Truck Series, did not renew their sponsorship. Despite these setbacks, SMR was able to work out a deal where Elana would pick up DoorDash and Body Armor from Merzlak, as FedEx took most of the season on his car. In addition, Caterpillar moves over from Bledsoe Brothers Racing to sponsor Keero.

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#81 | Erica Reinhardt (R)
Team: Bledsoe Brothers Racing
Rookie Season: 2023 Rookie of the Year Contender

The legacy of the Reinhardt name has been - and will always be - directly tied into the history of the NSCA. It all started in 1949 - the first year that the American Stock-Car Association, one of the NSCA's predecessors, had begun sanctioning races since it was founded the previous year. A then young 21-year-old Albert Reinhardt had entered several races in the ASCA's Strictly Stock Series to help support his growing family with additional income. He would continue racing until his tragic passing in 1963. His son, Eric Reinhardt, would work his way up through the ranks, eventually making a few appearances in the Cup Series starting in 1977, before running full-time starting in 1979 and going until his death in 2001. Eric Jr. would follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him, and would run full-time in the Cup Series himself from 2000 to 2016, where he would retire from full-time competition, and continue making a few one-off appearances in the National Series ever since. Jr's older half-brother Dillon would make several one-off appearances from 1999 to 2007. And now, that brings us to the next generation of Reinhardt - fitting considering the next generation of race car coming in for 2023. Born in August of 2001, Erica was named after her grand uncle, Eric Sr., thus technically making her the third Reinhardt to compete in an NSCA Cup Series event in a row that is named "Eric". Racing for the Bledsoe Brothers Racing team, she will pilot the #81 Chevy. Nationwide Insurance will jump aboard, having ties to the family from sponsoring Eric Jr. (who in relation to Erica would be Erica's 1st cousin, once removed). In addition, Havoline will be aboard the #81 as well, with Texaco/Havoline expanding it's partnership with BBR.

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Side Note: The numbers are meant to be Chrome-like. It just won't translate all that well with NR2003's limitations.
 
#6 | Sean English
Team: English Motorsports
Rookie Season: 2019
Starts: 112
Wins: 13
Top 5s: 47
Top 10s: 62

Welp. Sean didn't minimize most of the mistakes that cost him the championships in 2020 and 2021..... 8 DNFs - 5 of which were due to mechanical failures - held back what could've been yet another run at the championship. However, 5 wins and a handful of top 5s and top 10s allowed Sean to still finish 4th at season's end, with a shot of winning the championship. You know, I always joke about how Sean is the Mark Martin of the NSCA universe, but I swear NR2003 is self-aware and is just doing it for the memes at this point.... Irregardless of that, Valvoline has continued their sponsorship of the #6 Ford. PPG was moved to the #60, but in it's place will be Alpinestars. In addition to the normal Alpinestars scheme, there will also be a scheme run in tribute to Ken Block, who was killed in a snowmobile accident earlier this year.

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#2 | Ryan Vaughan
Team: Team Penske
Rookie Season: 2013 (Debuted in 2012)
Starts: 347
Wins: 5
Top 5s: 43
Top 10s: 89

Ford has been strong when it comes to horsepower over the course of the last few years. In fact, they've won the Manufacturer's championship the last 4 years in a row! So when it came to the Superspeedways, it should've been no surprise that at least a couple of Ford drivers would be competing to win those races. Of the 4 plate tracks, 3 of them were won by Ford drivers. Two of those were won by Ryan Vaughan. One of those wins was the Daytona 500. I doubt anyone - Vaughan included - would've expected the Team Penske #2 car to be #1 at Daytona, but hey, it happened in real life, too, so I don't know what to tell you about that. Anyways, there was a small bit of sponsorship rearrangement at Team Penske. Shell/Pennzoil remains aboard the #2 car as primary, but Verizon jumps aboard from the #12 of Ian Wallace, and Freightliner committed fully to advertising their eCascadia line.

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#48 | Cody Llamas
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Rookie Season: 2002 (Debuted in 2001)
Starts: 713
Career Wins: 73 | 2006 Daytona 500 Champion, 4x Cup Series Champion ('06, '13, '17, '22)
Top Fives: 95
Top Tens: 164
Side Quest Unlocked: Create Historic Schemes for 3 Active Drivers

So, with March 1st being the 10th anniversary of me starting the creation of a carset that would evolve over time into what is now the NSCA Cup Series, I felt it appropriate to create a few schemes for the drivers that have been in every season thus far since that initial carset that tell their history in the series......

..... Unfortunately, there are only 3 qualifying drivers for this..... Myself, Cody Llamas, and Hunter Keero. Worse still, the original idea was to have the three drivers use the same schemes that they did 10 years ago, albeit revamping those schemes to look 1000x better than they did when I first made them. Not only did looking at these older schemes dissuaded me from recreating them, they almost made me decide to scrap the idea before I delved further into it. That's how bad some of my more older schemes are.... However, the more I thought about it, I realized I could still do older schemes for these drivers, and if anything I could just do different, better schemes that I had already previously made, or just come up with possible scheme ideas that were realistically possible to have been run by these drivers in the past. And of course, that's the route I decided to go down.

We briefly return to Cody Llamas - since I already posted his 2023 cars earlier - as he is the first of the "Decade Trio" to have these schemes made. And since Cody is basically the Jimmie Johnson of the NSCA universe, I figured it would fit that he would've run similar (if not outright the same schemes) that Jimmie did during his career in the #48 in real life. Now each of the "Decade Trio" drivers will only have 2 schemes each made as additional files for the carset, so I did have to narrow down which of the schemes I wanted to make. I figured I would make 2 of my favorite Lowe's schemes that were ran. The 2002-2005 scheme (branded as it's 2005 iteration) and the 2006-2008 scheme (which I have branded as from 2009 because I forgot the real life 2009 scheme existed. Whoops.).

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#13 | Travis Hoefflin
Team: Craigo Autosport
Rookie Season: 2019
Starts: 112
Wins: 10
Top 5s: 37
Top 10s: 52

Travis Hoefflin saw a dip in performance in 2022. Granted, he still got 3 wins - 2 more than 2021 - but he also finished 11th in points. With a new season approaching and a new car to try and wrestle his way back to the front, Travis hopes he can turn his luck back around. Monster Energy continues to sponsor Travis for 2023. Exide Batteries, meanwhile, can't make up their minds on who to sponsor between Travis and teammate Jacob Craigo, as they move back to the #13 after only a single season aboard the #62.

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#88 | Alexis Phillips
Team: JR Motorsports
Rookie Season: 2021
Starts: 30
Wins: 0
Top 5s: 2
Top 10s: 3

Surprise, there's going to be a few part-time teams that will win during the 2023 season! And one of them is the long-speculated fan favorite team of JR Motorsports. Owned by Eric Reinhardt Jr., JRM is one of the leading National Series teams and serves as Hendrick Motorsports' main development pipeline for upcoming drivers. However, no development drivers will run for JRM in Cup - at least in 2023 - as JRM has gone with having Alexis Phillips race the #88 Chevy in all of their appearances this year. While their starts may be few, they will have multiple sponsors of their National Series program providing additional support on the Cup side. Brandt, Bass Pro Shops, and Hellmann's will all be aboard the #88 at some point during the season.

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#83 | Calvin Richards
Team: Wolfpack Racing
Rookie Season: 2020
Starts: 87
Wins: 1
Top 5s: 5
Top 10s: 16

The move to Wolfpack Racing seems to have paid off for Calvin Richards. Although he didn't get any wins, nor had that many top 10s and only a single top 5 all season, Richards was able to take a top 20 points finish with a significant level of consistency not seen by even some championship-level drivers. Heading into 2023, NSCA announced that they would rescind the expansion for teams to run 4 cars introduced last year, reverting back to a 3-car maximum as it has been since 2018 - hence by Alexis Phillips is in the #88 for JRM in the previous post - and Wolfpack is affected by it, too. However, the only change in sponsorship for Calvin Richards going into 2023 is actually unrelated to that, as Interstate Batteries joins Menard's aboard the #83 after moving away from the #82 at the end of last year. Menard's will continue their B2B deals, with all 7 additional sponsors from last year remaining on the car this year. No other B2B deals or sponsorship was announced.

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#62 | Jacob Craigo
Team: Craigo Autosport
Rookie Season: 2006
Starts: 570
Wins: 22 | 2021 Daytona 500 Champion
Top 5s: 82
Top 10s: 127

With only two wins, you'd think Jacob Craigo wouldn't be fighting for a championship, and even if he was, that he'd be punching way outside his class and would fall out early on in the fight. Nope, Craigo went on and nearly won it all at Atlanta until his fuel ran out in Overtime, giving the championship to Cody Llamas, winding up 2nd place in points once the checkered flag fell. In addition to that, he had around the same number of top 5s, top 10s, and a similar average finish to the rest of the top 5 in points. So, overall, a pretty decent season. Going into 2023 there will be a shakeup in Jacob's sponsorship lineup. Coca-Cola remains primary sponsor for the #62 Dodge, and Old Spice will make their return as a main sponsor in the Cup Series. In addition, ExoTiger, a clothing and accessories brand founded by Jacob Craigo, will also be aboard his car for a number of races.

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Now, as with Cody Llamas (and eventually Hunter Keero), Jacob Craigo will also have a couple of historic scheme to go along with the 2023 schemes. These are the most recent in terms of years they're from, but they're still historic nonetheless....

Historic Schemes:
2014 Quaker State - An example of either winning the race or DNFing trying to do so, Craigo's 2014 season can be defined as being a glass cannon on - and off - the track. A career not even a decade old at the time, Jacob was still considered quite hot headed, and would often race others quite aggressively. But he still nabbed 5 wins that year and found himself amidst the championship fight until late season shenanigans gave him an early exit from the points battle. He would finish 8th in that year's points fight......
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2018 Quaker State - In the short 4 year span between, Jacob did mellow out in terms of his off-track conduct, and would begin to find consistency. However, 2017 and 2018 were arguably his worst seasons statistically since racing for Eric Reinhardt Inc. from 2006-2008. There wasn't any one thing in particular that caused a couple of off-seasons, but what stung for 2018 in particular is that despite having a decent run of finishes and even nabbing a win, he somehow got outscored when it came time for the Playoffs by a guy who had a first round exit from the championship fight, and would only finish 2 spots higher by virtue of being untouchable by everyone 13th on back............ Yes, I'm still fucking pissed about that...... But at the same time..... That's racing! You're not going to have luck go your way all the time......
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#86 | Fred Jones
Team: Papyrus Racing
Active Seasons: 1991- 2005 (Debuted in 1989)
Starts: 506
Wins: 17 | 2-Time Cup Series Champion, 2002 Daytona 500 Champion

So..... I, uh..... Meant to post this back on February 4th.... However, I didn't have all of the schemes ready for this, and then kinda forgot out posting ol' Jonesy Boi here. Time to make up for lost time!

Fred Jones, we all know the name well. The humble protagonist of Papyrus' series of NASCAR games....... I've brought him into the fold of NSCA Canon/Lore as one of the various champions of the Cup Series, and a Daytona 500 champion to boot! From the land of Montana, Fred's family was quite large, and compared to his 4 brothers and 3 sisters, he was the most competitive of them all. Now, Fred's father - Scott Jones - had competed in the MLB for a few years, and wanted his sons to follow in his footsteps, going as far as to ensure that he did what he could to have them be on their school's baseball teams, and even tried to get the girls on the softball teams. However, the coach for the baseball team noticed that Fred was a tad too aggressive when it came to tryouts for the team, and instead steered him towards auto racing. Cue the natural fight between Fred and his father on what path in life Fred should take, father dies at a youngish age with Fred believing himself to be a failure in his father's eyes because he choose racing over baseball, and doing what he can to still prove that racing was worth it to his father and himself. History made, point proven, and Fred is celebrated within the community, the end. Of course that skips over many of Fred's accomplishments during his career, so let's talk about those with his schemes.......


Schemes:
1994 Papyrus Games - Jones' start in the Cup series was rocky at best. His debut came in the aftermath of the tragedy that was Elana Mullen's death, splitting the remaining races in 1989 with Tabby Robinson in the #56 Prince Racing entry. In 1990, he ran a few more part-time events before being picked up for a full-time run in 1991. After three years with Prince Racing, Fred moved to a new team that opened the year prior - Papyrus Racing - whom hoped that they could find a way to balance their racing and game sales incomes to not only run on track, but also to produce better games as the video game industry started to being booming in the mid 1990s. Despite their scheme being colorful in all of the wrong ways, this would turn out to be a good pairing.
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1997 Papyrus Games - In 1996, Fred won his first Cup championship, and became the face of Papyrus' racing titles, and as video game technology improved, so did the paint scheme. 1997 saw continued success, though in 1998 and 1999, the team did start running more towards the midfield. By this point, the trips to victory lane started to be very spread out and Jones wasn't quite able to replicate his 1996 performance.....
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2003 Papyrus Racing Games - That didn't matter in 2003, however. Despite having only 2 wins compared to some of the other drivers he fought for the championship with, Jones' consistency alone earned him his 2nd career championship, this coming after a 3 win season in 2002, where he won the Daytona 500. 2004 would see a change in the team, however, and not for the better. While Fred would earn his final 3 career wins that year, they all came early on in the year, and due to outside factors including Papyrus Racing Games being shut down mid-2004, the team would wind up being a non-factor for the rest of the season.
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2005 iRacing - Despite the loss of half their income via the game studio, the team soldiered on into 2005. However, this would wind up being the team's last, as well as Fred Jones' final season. The team was able to secure a partnership with the recently formed First LLC, and advertised the new online racing simulation program iRacing that the company had produced. Unfortunately, this couldn't save the team and following the final race of the season at Homestead, the team shut down. Fred Jones also called it quits, not being able to secure a new ride for 2006 by the end of 2005 where most of the seats were already filled and the others were close to finalizing their contracts. Now, Out of Character for a moment, I know damn well that iRacing was released in 2008 IRL, but I needed something for Fred Jones to use past the 2003 scheme so I figured I would just say that iRacing released in 2005 in the NSCA universe instead.
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#84 | Darien Arnsdorff
Team: Wolfpack Racing
Rookie Season: 2020
Starts: 87
Wins: 1
Top 5s: 6
Top 10s: 19

Another quiet year, another top 20 points finish, with a team that seems to be continuing their up-and-up. That's basically the story of Darien Arnsdorff's 2022 season. While he went winless and only scored a few top 10s, he did manage to beat half of the field in the points standings, so he at least has that going for him. In any case, there's no real changes going into 2023 for Darien, as he's still going to drive the #84 Wolfpack Racing Toyota, while sponsored by Procore and Gulfstream.....

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#15 | Theodore Cox
Team: Bishop Family Racing
Rookie Season: 2021
Starts: 61
Wins: 1
Top 5s: 1
Top 10s: 3

After a decent showing in his rookie season in 2021, Theodore Cox figured he would see more of the same in 2022..... But instead, he found himself floundering and even failing to qualify for the season finale at Atlanta, and finished 38th in points. With a new generation of racecar coming into the fold, both he and his team are hoping that it brings the field closer together and allows for the organization as a whole to place higher than they have been as of late. Money Lion and Mobil 1 both return to the #15 Dodge for 2023.

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#37 | Roberto Crown Jr.
Team: Lionheart Racing
Rookie Season: 2022
Starts: 24
Wins: 0
Top 5s: 1
Top 10s: 5

For late starters, Roberto Crown Jr. didn't do too bad. Joining Lionheart-Legacy Racing in a 3rd full-time car from the 9th race of the season onwards, Crown was able to get some better numbers that other drivers, many of whom have been racing for several years. With Lionheart Racing's partial rebranding and the team going back to just a two car operation, Roberto looks to try and at the very least get to where his teammates were last year, maybe even further ahead. With Jennifer Legacy stepping away after the passing of her father and co-owner of the team, Trace Legacy (hence why the team dropped the Legacy part of the name), sponsorship was rotated around the two remaining drivers to an extent. Hasbro - utilizing the Beyblade brand - and Great Clips remain aboard the #37 Chevy, while NOS Energy moves over from the #3 car to be on the #37.

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