Archive

Archive for January, 2010

Stock Cars On The Track! Logano Wins East-West All Star Race

January 31st, 2010

Just fantastic racing tonight in the “East meets West” All Star race! Finally some live stock car racing, and it was a great one!

Most of the race was a battle between 16 year old Sergio Pena and Joey Logano, but on the 25 lap shoot out at the end, Matt Kobyluck got into the mix and slowed down Sergio enough to give Logano the win. This 16 year kid was amazing! Joey was way better on the restarts and usually got the lead, but Sergio stuck to him like a mad dog chasing the post man and would take the lead on the long runs. After a late caution with ten laps or so to go, Joey got the lead on the restart, and Kobyluck starting in 3rd behind Sergio,  outgunned him and took 2nd. Sergio fought his way back by Kobyluck, but didn’t have enough time to catch Joey.

Once this kid figures out how to do his restarts, the NASCAR world better watch out for him!

What a great way to start off the NASCAR season! I love this race, but almost missed it! Thanks to Didi for the heads up!  If you recorded it, make sure to watch it!

Congratulations to Joey Logano and his fans. He was owed one here – last year they took the win away from him for “rough driving”.

Fantasy League: Seems like most of you are figuring it out, but I’m working on a couple pages for each game. The main 3WA game this year will be the Salary Cap game, but they are bringing back the 3FA game we played last year, so I started a league there too. I’ll be making separate pages for each league and you’ll be able to access them through the right sidebar. I’m going allow comments on that page, so we can create a FAQ answering questions people have. That way, hopefully everyone will be able to go there and see the answer to what they’re looking for. Please don’t chat on those pages though, only ask a thought out question regarding the game so others won’t have to weed through to find information.

leftturns190

A Devil of a Story about a 13 Year Old Driver from Taz03!

January 25th, 2010

It was back in the mid 80’s: 03 (03champkenseth Taz’s daughter) and I used to go to this little 3/8 mile track on Saturday nights. Quite a few of the the NASCAR drivers would come there to race after they ran the Grand National races on Saturday afternoon. We had to wait quite a few times for Morgan Shepherd to get there. Other drivers who would show up were: Harry Gant,  Bill Elliott, Tim Richmond and Bobby Labonte (when he was first getting into racing). Ahh the good ole days !

Anyway , there was one guy who was the track champion for a couple of years. His name is  Tim McGuire. He was in his early twenties then and he was awesome! (mine and 03s opinion) We got into arguements with other fans, and there were fights between the drivers because they thought Tim cheated. Anyway, to get to now … he has a son named Michael McGuire, and  it looks like he could possibly be someone to keep in your minds a few years from now! He is 13 years old now and is already a track champion at one of the tracks here in North Carolina. I was very impressed with him after reading this article and wanted to share it with you all!

Taz03

Click Here for the Michael McGuire Story by By Randy King Of The Roanoke Times

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Fantasy League I’m still chekcing out the rules on the Fantasy League so I can write a story explaining it a little. However, they have made two key changes that I think are great! First off, unlike previous years, you can make all the changes you want up to the roster freeze for the first race at Daytona! So disregard all those warnings I gave you yesterday! Play around with different driver combo’s all you want it won’t use up your trades. So in other words, there’s nothing you can do to your team that can’t be undone, so go for broke! There’s another aspect they changed regarding trades, but I think it would confuse everyone more than it would help if I tried to explain.. plus it’s moot… that dumb part of their rule is gone too! So, the end result is that all the dumb rules that made people needlessly burn up trades are gone, and that’s a good thing.

The game is pretty straightforward, and now that you can move drivers around all you want before the race, you can go ahead and play around with it for a bit and get used to the format. Then, in a couple days, when you’re used to the format, I’ll do a little writeup on it and you’ll have a better idea as to what I’m referring to.

I loved that story Taz sent in, make sure to check it out! (Y)

leftturns190

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Please keep Faerielover in your thoughts and prayers! (L)

leftturns190

A Nutter Story: The Eury’s & The Earnhardt’s

January 19th, 2010

The association with the Eury’s and the Earnhardt’s goes back more than three decades, when Tony Eury Sr. accompanied his long time Kannapolis, N.C friend Dale Earnhardt Sr. to Daytona in 1976. Racing in the NASCAR Sportsman series (later to become Busch Grand National) Earnhardt finished 13th in his  first race there. Eury continued to work on Earnhardt’s cars,  traveling to select races on a part time basis through to the 80s before joining Earnhardt’s company  DEI full time in 87.

As crew chief at DEI, Eury  Sr worked with an assortment of drivers who took turns driving the Busch cars, including Neil Bonnett, David Bonnett, Bobby Hillin, Ben Hess, Micheal Waltrip, Steve Park and of course Earnhardt himself. His biggest challenge came when Dale asked his friend to mold an up and coming young driver that had very little professional stock car racing experience – he was asked if i could make a driver out of Dale Earnhardt Jr. The partnership produced immediate results, with Tony Eury Sr as his crew chief, Dale Jr collected 13wins  34 top 5s and back to back Busch Series championships (98 and 99) The inevitable leap to Nextel Cup came with just 5 races in 99 and full time in 2000. Eury Sr remained Dale Jrs crew chief  to 04,winning 15 races. The Winston All-Star race and the Daytona 500 before he turned the reigns over to his son Tony Eury Jr full time.

When Dale Jr made the decision to leave DEI, Tony Eury (Pops) was made Director of Competition at JR Motorsports. He was also crew chief for the 88 car, helping  Brad Keselowski  to 33 wins and two 3rd place finishes in the series. Pops will remain at JRM helping more young drivers to hopefully reaching their full potential.

Tony Eury Jr worked for DEI from 1991 to 2007. In 1993, he became car chief (and one of the tire changers) for the Busch series, working under his father. In 2004, 2006 and 2007, Tony Jr  helped his cousin Dale Jr and the Budweiser 8 car get into the chase. 2005 saw a team swap where he briefly became Crew chief to Micheal Waltrip.

In 2008, he followed Dale Jr to Hendrick Motor Sports  as crew chief for the Apm Energy/National guard 88 car. After a strong start, winning the Budweiser Shootout, The Gatorade Duel and the June Michigan race on fuel strategy, the results fell off and in May ’09 he was removed as crew chief and transferred to the R and D department at HMS. Tony Jr has since become a part owner of JRM along with Rick Hendrick, Kelly and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tony’s next challenge comes as crew chief to part time driver Danika Patrick and other nominated drivers of the 5  (now 7) car.

Nascarnutter

COT Spoiler pics from 2006. The COT was originally tested with a spoiler and a wing. NASCAR claims the test drivers preferred the wing to the spoiler, so that’s why they went with the wing. I recall NASCAR saying at the time that they went with the wing cause it promoted passing and side by side racing. It seems to me passing and side by side racing has dramatically decreased at most tracks witht he winged COT, so not so sure about their claims.

Here’s a picture of of two COT’s during a 2006 test – one with a wing, one with a spoiler.

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3WideAlley Fantasy League sign-up has started! Those of you on my friends list at Sporting News should have already received an invite. I’ll be sending out email invites from the 3WA member list in the next couple days. I’ll be writing up a story with directions and some tips, but the main thing is don’t make any pics on the site until you’ve figured out your team on scratch paper first! Otherwise, you’ll use up your trades before the game starts if you change them again before the race. I’d suggest waiting closer to the race anyways… someone you planned on using might end up not making the race, and then you’ll have to burn a trade switching him out. I’ll explain more in the next story.

lefttturns190

General Discussion

A Nutter Story: The history behind the numbers

January 15th, 2010

With the number displayed on the car sides and top, it’s easy to tell your chosen driver. Some numbers are more famous than others and will always be associated with a particular driver, but that number may be synonymous with equally important history. Following are a few examples,

#3
Automatically you think of the late great Dale Earnhardt (who ran it  1981 to 2001) but several other drivers ran this number, including Dick Rathman, David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Buck Baker, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Charlie Glotzbach and before Earnhardt took the wheel. Richard Childress himself drove with it from 1976 to 81. No driver has since run that number in Cup and Richard pays NASCAR a fee to keep it that way.

#88
With Dale Jr’s move to HMS, he couldn’t take the 8 from DEI. The history behind the 88 was of much interest. Ralph Earnhardt (Jr’s grandaddy) ran the 88 for petty Enterprises in 1957. Buck Baker, Darell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd, Kenny and Mike Wallace, Geofrey Bodine, Rusty Wallace and Jimmy Spencer have all got behind the wheel of the 88 at some time. It is 10th on the win list with over 60 victories.

#43
Arguably the most recognized and successful number, visiting victory lane nearly 200 times. Lee and Richard Petty are forever linked with it and its success, but it has also been run by Jimmie Lewallen, Jim Pascal, Rob Welborn, Walley Dallenbach, Bobby Hamilton, John Andretti, Bobby Labonte and Reed Sorrenson,  all having their turn with it too.

#14
Tony Stewart looked to his sporting hero A J Foyt for the number to use for his new team and new company, SHR. Sterlin Marlin ran the number at Ginn Racing in tribute to his father Coo Coo. Also, Terry Labonte, Stacy Compton, Ron Hornaday Jr., Mike Wallace, Fonty Flock, Billy Myers and Bobby Allison have steered the number to well over 800 wins.

#24
Jeff Gordon’s famous number was chosen by Rick Hendrick, as it was the closest to the already owned #25. Previous drivers have included Jimmy Lewallen, Ray Duhigg, Bob Welborn, Sam McQuagg and Cecil Gordon (no relation). Jeff Gordon has recorded every win for the number.

#48
Jimmy Johnson, 4 times cup champion, chose this number as it was double the number of his cars co owner Jeff Gordon. Other drivers who have competed using the 48 are Tiny Lund, Possum Jones, C G Spencer and James Hylton.

#18
JGR selected the number in 1992, because it had been Dale Jarrett’s during his two full cup seasons. Bobby Labonte, Dick Johnson, Benny Parsons, Tommy Ellis, and Kyle Busch have been seen using that number, but only Bobby Labonte has won a championship with it so far.

#13
Sixty seven drivers including Banjo Mathews, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Mike Skinner, Richard Childress, A J Foyt and Robbie Gordon have piloted the #13. It has failed to finish 125 of the 245 races it has entered. Joe Nemechek also ran the #13 until the merger of Ginn Racing with DEI.

How NASCAR allocated the numbers,
NASCAR owns and assigns the numbers and licenses them to the teams on an annual basis. The teams do not own the numbers but submit a request to NASCAR for its use.

Generally, if a team has been using a number that number it is re-issued to the same team. If a team relinquishes the number, it then reverts back to NASCAR.

Nascarnutter

Great Story! Thanks Nutter! :hug (F)

Help needed! If anyone has a buddy or a spouse in a graphics dept. who can make an enlarged image of our logo without too much trouble, that would be greatly appreciated! It would need to be enlarged to about 1′ to 1.5′ wide for a sign that Fish, Nutter & USMC will be carrying at Daytona! Any help would be appreciated!

Leftturns190

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Watch for Fish8bait on Speed tonight! :fish:

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http://3widealley.com/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=lastup&cat=0

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(G) Happy Birthday to Orphan Annie! (^)

General Discussion

What do you know? NASCAR attempts to fix some bad rules!

January 12th, 2010

Well, finally something for us non Danica fans to get a little excited about this off season! It’s been reported that NASCAR is considering reversing some of the unfortunate rules and changes they’ve made in recent years…. maybe they read Knight’s article on 3WideAlley.com on that very subject! The final straw that broke NASCAR’s back in their resistance to fixing past mistakes! ;)

Below are some of the possible changes NASCAR is considering. It’s very late to be making such major changes to the car, I hope NASCAR allows a lot of extra testing! However, if this is the price we have to pay for the changes, so be it I guess!

Increased front end travel.
This is the change I’m most excited about. Starting with the COT, NASCAR limited the front end travel to about 3.5”. This gives the teams a very small box to work with to get their cars to “set” into the corners. There’s only so much a crew chief can do to keep up with the changes on the track during the race with so little to work with. You can’t change A-arms in the pits! Also, with the box so small, and the cars all so similar, even the discovery of a relatively small improvement can translate into one team blowing away the field during a race.

More travel will give the teams more options at the track to get the front end geometry to set the way they want it to while cornering. The attitude and angle of the wheels is different in the corners than when going down the straights. The teams make this change in attack by setting up the geometry of the suspension and wheel parts (like A-frames) to change the way the rubber hits the road as the front suspension settles while under braking going into a corner. When you hear announcers saying a driver “hit his brakes to set the car for the corner”, this is what they are referring to: getting the front wheels in the position and angles the crew chief wants for the corner.

This should improve competition during the races, as a lot of teams without the 7 posters and expensive computers/software rely more on old style “trial and error” at the track to get their cars set-up right. With a larger box to work in, there should theoretically be more options to get the car to do what they want, evening things out a bit between the teams. This is the way it worked prior to the COT, and I think we all agree that the racing was much better then. Since this issue with the front end has been the #1 complaint I’ve heard from interviews I’ve read and watched with CC’s about the COT, I welcome this hopeful change in the rules by NASCAR. Though we won’t be able to see this actual change to the car, it would be the change that should have the largest positive effect out of the proposed changes.

Getting rid of the splitter and going back to an air dam. This goes with the above. NASCAR uses the splitter as a means for governing the travel on the car. The old style air dam would bend and flex when the front suspension was depressed going into the corners, whereas the splitter acts as a hard stop and the car will just bounce off or slide on the pavement when hitting it. Once it does that, your corner is blown. Giving the cars more travel, as discussed above, would greatly help this problem, but getting rid of the hard stop with the splitter and going back to the “soft landing” we had with the air dam would be a great move in my opinion. The more the COT looks like the old car, the better it’s probably going to drive!

No more Yellow Line Rule!
Well, I’ve written a few stories and several hundred posts on here and elsewhere railing about how NASCAR interprets the Yellow Line Rule. However, I’m not entirely against the rule, I’m mainly against the way it’s enforced. There are two things I think NASCAR should change in regards to how they enforce the rule:

#1: Give the driver who moves down below the line all the benefit of the doubt that he made the move to avoid a wreck. If there’s the slightest reason to believe it was made to avoid a wreck, no penalty! Only penalize the driver when it’s blatant! Drivers should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their judgment about avoiding a wreck.

#2: Once the drivers are in site of the checkered flag coming out of turn 4 on the last lap, anything goes – no Yellow Line Rule at all. This might or might not prevent wrecks on the final straight, unless someone completely runs another driver into the grass, but that would be a blatant “foul” and I don’ think many would risk the high probability of getting black flagged. There’s no Yellow Line Rule at non restrictor plate tracks, I think it’ll work fine for the last straights at Dega and Daytona. Most importantly though, we’ll avoid the ugly spectacle of having the win taken away from the driver who crossed the finish line first – like we saw with Regan Smith at Talladega. That’s just an embarrassment to the sport in my opinion!

So fine, they’re considering of getting rid of the rule entirely. That’s not exactly what I was looking for, but that’s way better than keeping the rule with the way they are currently enforcing it. However, we’re going to have wrecks during the race… probably early on by someone who acts like it’s the last lap and makes boneheaded move (daring if it’s your own driver) passing on the apron on lap 3, losing it and causing a wreck. It’s one thing to have a wreck going for the win on the last stretch of the last, but in the beginning or middle of the race, it’s just lame. If they get rid of the Yellow Line Rule completely, we’re going to see some of that for sure.

The Yellow Line Rule could work if only some common sense were applied, but since that seems to be often lacking, I guess we might have to settle for no rule at all.

You can click here for a “back in the day” blog on Foxsports I did on the topic. I don’t believe my opinions have changed since and it probably better reflects my feelings on the subject.

Getting rid of the Wing and going back to the spoiler.
The sales pitch I remember from NASCAR about the wing was that it would make it easier for the car behind to pass (the aero effect it has on the “hole” the car makes in the wind). There sure has been a lot less passing since we’ve gone to the winged COT, so I’m not very convinced the wing has had the effect NASCAR desired. I don’t know how much (or any) the wing is to blame for the problems with the COT, but the teams seem to think it hurts performance and that a spoiler would be better. So if that’s the consensus of the teams and it’ll help competition and passing, I’m sold!

Wind tunnel tests by NASCAR and the teams apparently show that it doesn’t affect the car getting airborne anymore than a spoiler would, but going to a spoiler should give another safety benefit – more visibility through the back window… something the drivers have complained a lot about! It’ll really help with driver communication, such as hand signals to pass; that they’re pitting and of course flipping the bird. ;)

One of the best reasons to change back to a spoiler was made by Chevytech: a spoiler looks cooler than a wing!

Larger restrictor plate for Daytona. I don’t think it’s a major increase, but the more power the better! Go for it!

There have been other changes reported as under consideration by NASCAR. I’ve heard that they’re looking at the lift generated by the underside of the car when going backwards, and what they might be able to do to limit that effect. There have been others, feel free to share them in the posts if you think I’ve forgotten something important.

So far, this years changes have been more about fixing or reversing changes made in the last few years that have had a detrimental effect on the sport, which is a positive sign after several years in a row of bad changes. I personally like the changes they made to the Shootout, which are based more on who’s the best at Daytona rather than the manufacturer competition they changed the Shootout to last season. Since it can no longer be a pole winner competition like it was in the past, due to sponsorship conflicts, I think the “best at Daytona” is the way to go – the best plus the Chase drivers technically. However, if any of you have what you feel would be a better rule, share it with us!

Have a great time with race chat in our NASCAR forum! Remember that The Race Hub is on Speed Channel again now M-F 7:30 PM EST! Woo Hoo!  Today, at least, they repeated it at 10:30 PST – hopefully they’ll continue to do that so those who can’t watch the earlier one can catch it later. So far it seems to be a pretty decent show!  The season is getting closer to being started! TV coverage again! :hi5:

Leftturns190

(^) Happy Birthday CrownVic! (G)

Randy's Rants

Knightslider: NASCAR Rules

January 7th, 2010

Well I think it’s time to pull out my soapbox and throw my 2 cents in.  I think it is time for new leadership in NASCAR.  Changing the rules every year only tends to cheapen the sport. Not to mention piss off the fans. I have an idea.  Lets go back to the way it was pre-Brian (the brainless) France taking over.  I think that the Chase is the worst thing for NASCAR unless your a Jimmy Johnson fan.  Fans are starting to lose interest in the sport because of him winning year after year. I’m starting to think that when the economy picks back up your still going to see empty seats because fans aren’t happy with the racing the C.O.T. is providing. Take that stupid wing off the back of that car and put the spoiler back on. I know the Shootout and the All Star race are non points races but leave them alone the previous rules worked fine for alot of years. If you want more cars in the races just add more cars. Make it the number of cars you want and go by points if your not qualified for it. Some times I think they brought the Keystone Cops out of retirement to come up with some of these rules. I do think that the rules for the Shootout are better this year. Last year was just about the car manufactures not about racing. I just think we need to go back to the old school racing.  You know what they say “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it”.  I do think the double file restarts are a good thing that’s the only rule in the last 10 years I like.  JMO….. Knightslider

(G) Happy Birthday Mr. Nutter!!! (^)

and

(L) Happy 29th Anniversary Mr. & Mrs. Nutter!!! (F)

leftturns190

Chevytech: Alan Kulwicki

January 3rd, 2010

Alan Dennis Kulwicki (December 14, 1954 – April 1, 1993), nicknamed “Special K” and the “Polish Prince”, was an Winston Cup Series racecar driver. He started racing at local short tracks in Wisconsin before moving up to regional stock car touring series. Alan arrived at NASCAR, with no sponsor, a limited budget, and only a racecar and a borrowed pickup truck. Despite starting with meager equipment and finances, he earned the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award over drivers racing for well-funded teams.

After Alan won his first race at Phoenix International Raceway, he debuted what would become his trademark “Polish Victory Lap”.

Alan was known for being a perfectionist and doing things his own way. An engineer by trade, his scientific approach to NASCAR racing inspires the way teams are now run. He was insistent on driving for his own race team, AK Racing, during most of his NASCAR career, despite lucrative offers from top car owners.

Alan grew up in Greenfield , Wisconsin , a suburb of Milwaukee known for its Polish-American neighborhoods, near the Milwaukee Mile racetrack. After his mother died, his family moved in with his grandmother, who died when Alan was in seventh grade. A year later, his only brother died of a hemophilia-related illness. Alan attended Pius XI High School, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1977. His knowledge of engineering is often cited as a contributing factor to his success as a driver; because, it helped him better understand the physics of a racecar.

Alan began competing in regional to national level events sanctioned by the USAC Stock Car series and the American Speed Association in 1979, while remaining an amateur racer through 1980. When Alan raced against future NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace in the ASA series, the two became friends his highest finish in the ASA season points championship was third place, which he accomplished in both 1982 and 1985, with five career victories and twelve pole positions.

In 1985, Kulwicki sold most of his belongings (so that he could not change his mind), including his short track racing equipment, to move approximately 860 miles to the Charlotte area. He kept only a few things; his pickup truck was loaded to tow a trailer full of furniture and tools. An electrical fire two days before he left destroyed his truck, so he had to borrow one to pull the trailer. After arriving in the Charlotte area, he showed up unexpectedly at Terry’s shop ready to race. Veteran NASCAR drivers were initially amused by Alan’s arrival on the national tour. He was a driver from the north when the series was primarily a southern regional series, had an mechanical engineering degree when few other drivers had completed college, and with only six starts, had limited driving experience in the junior Busch series. Alan was described as very studious, hard working, no-nonsense, and something of a loner. He frequently walked the garage area in his racing uniform carrying a briefcase. Alan made his first career Winston Cup start at Richmond on September 8, 1985, for Bill Terry’s #32/#35 Ford team sponsored by Hardee’s. That season he competed in five races for Terry, with his highest finish being thirteenth.

Alan started his rookie season in 1986 with Terry. After Terry decided to end support for his racing team mid-season so Alan fielded his own team. He started out as essentially a one-man team in a time when other teams had dozens of people in supporting roles. Initially the driver, owner, crew chief, and chief mechanic, he had difficulty acquiring and keeping crew members because he found it difficult to trust them to do the job with the excellence that he demanded, and because he was hands-on in the maintenance of racecars to the point of being a “control freak”. He sought out crew members who had owned their own racecars, believing they would understand what he was going through: working long hours and performing his own car maintenance. Notable crew members included his crew chief, Paul Andrews, and future Cup crew chiefs, Tony Gibson and Brian Whitesell. Future crew chief and owner, Ray Evernham, lasted six weeks with Alan in 1992. Evernham later said, “The man was a genius. There’s no question. It’s not a matter of people just feeling like he was a genius. That man was a genius. But his personality paid for that. He was very impatient, very straightforward, very cut-to-the-bone.” With one car, two engines, and two full-time crew members, Alan won the 1986 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award. He had competed in 23 of 29 events, with four Top 10 finishes, three DNF’s, and an average finish of 15.4, ending only one race worse than 30th place.

In 1987, Alan secured primary sponsorship from Zerex Antifreeze and changed his car number to #7. He picked up his first career pole in the season’s third race at Richmond . Later that season, he again qualified fastest at Richmond and Dover . Alan came close to winning his first Winston Cup race at Pocono, finishing second after winner Dale Earnhardt passed him on the last lap.

In 1988, Alan hired Paul Andrews as his crew chief after Andrews was recommended by Rusty Wallace at the 1987 NASCAR Awards banquet. That year Alan won his first Cup race in the season’s second-to-last race at Phoenix after race leader Ricky Rudd’s car had motor problems late in the race. Alan led 41 laps and won by 18.5 seconds. After the race finished, he turned his car around and made a Polish Victory Lap by driving the opposite way on the track, with the driver’s side of the car facing the fans. “This gave me the opportunity to wave to the crowd from the driver’s side”,  Andrew’s recalled, “He had wanted to do something special and something different for his first win and only his first.”

Alan started his own engine-building program for the 1989 season, and the team suffered nine DNF because of engine problems. He had four second place finishes that season and held the points lead after the fifth race of the season. In 29 races, he had six pole positions, nine Top 10 finishes, and finished fourteenth in season points.

Junior Johnson, owner of one of the top teams, approached Alan at the beginning of the 1990 season to ask him to drive one of his cars. Alan declined, stating that he was more interested in running his own team. He won his second race at Rockingham on October 21, 1990, and finished eighth in points that year, his first finish in the Top 10 points in a season.

Before the 1991 season, Zerex ended their sponsorship. Johnson was expanding his operation to a two-car team and offered Alan a ride in his second car. Alan again turned down Johnson’s $1,000,000 offer, thinking that he had secured a sponsorship deal with Maxwell House coffee. Instead, Johnson ended up securing that sponsorship for his second team, so Alan began the season without a sponsor, paying expenses out of his own pocket. At the opening race of the season, the 1991 Daytona 500, five cars raced with paint schemes representing different branches of the United States military to show support for the American forces involved in the Gulf War. It was the first use of special paint schemes in NASCAR history. Alan’s car was sponsored by the U.S. Army in a one-race deal. After running the second and third races of the season in a plain white unsponsored car, Alan was approached by Hooters for a one-race sponsorship deal for the fourth race at Atlanta . Hooters had been sponsoring Mark Stahl’s car, but Stahl did not qualify for the race. Alan qualified on the pole position for the upcoming race. Hooters and Kulwicki signed a one-race sponsorship agreement, followed by a long-term deal after Kulwicki finished eighth in the race. Later in the season, Kulwicki won the Bristol night race for his third career win.

Kulwicki passed Dale Jarrett with 27 laps left at the Food City 500 race on April 5 at Bristol to take a narrow victory. It was his fourth Cup victory. After that race, he never left the Top 5 in season points. Andrews attributed Alan’s consistently strong finishes to the steady performance of newly adopted radial tires. He said, “It was hard to control them, and the driver’s ability to work with that car during practice in order to get the car set up meant so much more than it ever did.”

Alan was quite vocal that his 278-point deficit would probably be his undoing, and that the Dover race result would keep him from contending for the season title. He was quoted as saying, “This probably finishes us off in the championship deal.” On October 11, Mark Martin had a narrow victory over Alan at Charlotte . For the second race in a row, points leader Bill Elliott had problems, which left six drivers within reach of the lead with three races left to go. Elliott had problems again at the second-to-last race, allowed race winner Davey Allison to take the points lead, with fourth place finisher Kulwicki second in season points and Elliott third.

The 1992 Hooters 500, the final race of the 1992 season, is considered one of the most eventful races in NASCAR history. It was the final race for Richard Petty and the first for Jeff Gordon. Six drivers were close enough in the points standings to win the championship that day. Allison led second-place Kulwicki by 30 points, Bill Elliott by 40, Harry Gant by 97, and Kyle Petty by 98 and needed to finish sixth or better to clinch the championship. Alan received approval from NASCAR and Ford to change the “Thunderbird” lettering on his bumper for the race to “Underbird” because he felt like the underdog in the contention for the championship. Allison was racing in sixth place, closely behind Ernie Irvan, when Irvan’s tire blew with 73 (of 328) laps left in the event. As a result, Allison ran into the side of Irvan’s spinning car and was unable to continue. Alan and Elliott were left to duel for the title. During Kulwicki’s first pit stop, the first gear in the car’s transmission broke. Andrews said, “We had to leave pit road in fourth gear, and only by leaving it in fourth are you not going to move metal around as much. We could only hope that the loose piece of metal didn’t get in there and break the gears in half. We had three or four pit stops after it broke. I held my breath all day long.” While leading late in the race, Andrews calculated the exact lap for his final pit stop so that Alan would be guaranteed to lead the most laps and would gain five bonus points. Alan made his final pit stop only after leading enough laps to guarantee the bonus points. To save time, the pit crew did a fuel-only pit stop. Not changing tires allowed them to be available to push the car to prevent it from stalling, since the car had to start moving in very high gear Because the team’s fuel man hurried to add the gasoline during the quick stop, he did not add the desired amount into the tank. As a result, Alan had to conserve fuel to ensure that his car was still running at the end of the race. Elliott won the race and Kulwicki stretched his fuel to finish second. Alan won the 1992 Winston Cup Championship by maintaining his 10-point lead over Elliott. He celebrated the championship with his second Polish Victory Lap Always conscious of his appearance for potential sponsors, Alan combed his hair, making a national television audience wait for him to emerge from his car

Alan had overcome the 278-point deficit in the final six races of the season by ending with a fifth, a fourth, and two second place finishes. It was the closest title win in NASCAR Cup Series history. The championship was noteworthy for other reasons: Kulwicki was the last owner/driver to win the title, the first Cup champion with a college degree, and the first Cup champion born in a Northern state. The song that played during a short salute to Alan at the year-end awards banquet was “My Way.

Alan returned to his hometown, Greenfield , for Alan Kulwicki Day in January 1993. The gymnasium at Greenfield High School was filled and surrounded by four to five thousand people. Local television crews filmed the event. Alan signed autographs for six hours.

Alan did not change his spending habits after winning the 1992 championship. “The only thing I really wanted to buy was a plane”, he said, “but it turns out Hooters has a couple I can use.”

Alan died in an airplane crash on Thursday April 1, 1993. He was returning from an appearance at the Knoxville Hooters in a Hooters corporate plane on a short flight across Tennessee before the Sunday spring race at Bristol . The plane slowed and crashed just before final approach at Tri-Cities Regional Airport near Blountville. The NTSB attributed the crash to the pilot’s failure to use the airplane’s anti-ice system to clear ice from the engine inlet system.

Alan’s racecar transporter was driven from the rainy track later that Friday morning while other teams and the media watched it travel slowly around the track with a black wreath on its grille. Kyle Petty described the slow laps as “the saddest thing I’ve ever seen at a racetrack… We just sat and cried.” Alan had competed in five NASCAR races that season with two Top 5 finishes, and was ranked ninth in points at the time of his death.

His car was driven by Tommy Kendall on road courses and by Jimmy Hensley at the other tracks. It was raced for most of the 1993 season until the team was sold to Geoff Bodine.

Alan had been selected to compete in the 1993 IROC series as the reigning Winston Cup champion. He competed in two IROC races before his death, finishing ninth at Daytona and eleventh at Darlington . Dale Earnhardt raced for Kulwicki in the final two IROC races, and the prize money for those races and their fifth place combined points finish was given to the Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary, Brenner Children’s Hospital and St. Thomas Aquinas Church charities.

Three days after Alan’s death, Bristol race winner Rusty Wallace honored his former short track foe by performing the trademark Polish Victory Lap. After Davey Allison’s death on July 13, 1993, a Kulwicki #7 sticker on competitor’s cars was joined by Allison’s #28 sticker. After the final race of the season, series champion Dale Earnhardt and race winner Wallace drove a side-by-side Polish victory lap carrying flags for Kulwicki and Allison

Cup Statistics:

207 races in 9 years

1992 Winston Cup Championship

5 Wins 75 Top Tens 24 Poles

Busch Statistics:

6 races in 2 years

0 Wins 3 Top Tens 1 Pole

RIP Alan you will always be a Champion and did it “Your Way”

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Alan Dennis Kulwicki

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