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CONCORD, N.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. knew as soon as Darlington Raceway announced that this year's Southern 500 would have a throwback theme. He would help design a paint scheme and firesuit that paid homage to one of his idols.

His No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet SS honors to the brand’s storied history in motor sports with an early-1980s look inspired by Valvoline cars driven by some of the era’s racing icons, including Cale Yarborough, Ron Bouchard, Neil Bonnett and Buddy Baker.

It was Yarborough that most inspired Earnhardt in the design process.

“We just did exactly what we saw from Cale (Yarborough),” he said. “We just looked at the shoes, the suit and everything. We went all the way. We didn’t take any shortcuts.”

Earnhardt explains why Yarborough was such an inspiration -- and the NASCAR Hall of Famer gives his impression of Earnhardt on the racetrack -- in the video above.