With all of the excitement going into the final races of the Nascar season this weekend at Homestead, I noticed everyone at Beyond The Flag is doing a great job of covering the race. The Jimmie Johnson/Brad Keselowski subject has been talked and written into the nth degree, so I was looking around for something to write about when I spotted an entry on my Facebook News Feed and there it was, the subject I was looking for.
Today, November 15th is a day that should live in infamy for every Nascar fan no matter how old or young they are. It is the 20th anniversary of Nascars “Greatest Race of all Time“.
As we turn the clock back to 1992, and enter a time when the Winston Cup season ended in Atlanta, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, we find a day that is rich in Nascar history, a day for remembrance. The points standings saw six drivers who were still mathematically alive, and we knew it would be a fight to checkered flag at the Hooters 500 on Sunday afternoon.
Bill Elliott, Alan Kulwiki, Davey Allison, Kyle Petty, Harry Gant, and Mark Martin all started that Sunday with the hopes of lifting the cup at the end of the day. One driver would win the race, and another, the championship.
Davey Allison was the odds on favorite. All the Havoline Ford needed to do, was finish in sixth place or better to win the Cup. Rick Mast won his first ever Winston Cup pole for the Hooters 500, but he never led a lap, and crashed on lap two. It ended his day.
On lap 254, Davey was running 6th, and on his way to the front when disaster struck. With a tire going down, Ernie Irvan lost control and spun out in front of Allison and Rusty Wallace. Rusty missed the spinning Morgan McClure #4 but when Ernie bounced off the wall, he collected Davey and spun him into the inside wall. Davey bent a tie rod, ending his day, and his chances to win the Cup. There’s always next year…right?
Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwiki ran one and two for the remainder of the afternoon, occasionally swapping positions. It was apparant that he who led the most laps would probably win the championship. After the last pit stop for a Gas and Go, Kulwiki settled into second place and rode out the remainder of the race, never challenging Elliott for the lead.
Bill Elliott won the race, and led 102 laps, the cagey Alan Kulwiki led 103 laps, and won the extra five points for leading the most laps, giving him the championship. [They didn't all have computers on the pit box like they do now] and Kulwiki knew when he came out of the pits on the final stop, he knew he already had enough laps to win.
Alan Kulwiki won what was at the time, the closest victory in Nascar history. With a margin of only eight points, Kurt Busch won the 2004 Nextel Championship over Jimmie Johnson, and we all know what happened last year between Tony Stewart, and Carl Edwards. Kulwiki also became the first owner/driver to win a Winston Cup title. That was also achieved in 2011.
Harry Gant and Kyle Petty dropped out of the race with engine problems, and Mark Martin was never a factor.
Ok, what else happened in this race? It was the last race for the King. The seven time Winston Cup champion made his last start in the famous #43 STP car. Petty had a problem midway through the race where he hit the wall and was on fire as he coasted down into the infield. His pit crew got the car back together, and the King got back on the track with two laps left, and took the checkered fag in his final appearance.
That brings me back to the Facebook feed that prompted this article. Being a Jeff Gordon fan, I get his feed, and his headline was, today, November 15th is the 20th anniversary of my first Cup start in the Hooters 500 at Atlanta.
Note: I wanted to put up a picture of Alan Kulwiki, but Presswire was fresh out, I found one of the King instead.
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