The Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota’s blue-and-white paint scheme was hand painted and is similar to the scheme Baker carried on his Bud Moore Engineering No. 15 Torino in the early 1970s.
Baker, who was 74 years old, died Aug.10 after a short battle with cancer.
“We’d been planning this for a while,” said Bowyer. “Unfortunately, Buddy passed away before he could see what we wanted to do. The most fitting tribute I could give him would be to run fast at Darlington just like he did in his day.”
Baker, born in nearby Florence, S.C., won 19 races in 699 starts and was the first driver to break 200 mph on a closed course at Talladega in 1970. Baker won the 1970 Southern 500, the 1980 Daytona 500 and back-to-back World 600s in Charlotte in 1972 and 1973.
After racing, Baker served as a commentator for TNN, CBS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio before retirement this year.
“He’s one of my heroes and I feel honored to drive the No. 15 and doubly honored we can run one of his paint schemes in front of his home-state fans in South Carolina,” said Bowyer, who also will wear a throwback firesuit. “I hope it reminds fans of all the good memories Buddy and Bud created over the years. I want to thank my sponsors for agreeing to let us honor Buddy in this way. This means a lot to me and I’m sure all the NASCAR fans as well.”
Moore, 90, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., served as crew chief when Baker’s father Buck Baker won what is now the Sprint Cup championship. The decorated World War II veteran went on to win 63 races and three championships in a 37-year career as a car owner.NBC will televise this year’s Southern 500 as the race returns to its traditional Labor Day weekend date.