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1992:

Six Contenders, One Champion

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Kulwicki Scores Come-from-Behind Upset

The 1992 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season featured an intense championship battle that saw six drivers still in contention entering the finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Alan Kulwicki won the title by a mere 10 points over Bill Elliott.

No one could have imagined at the beginning of the 1992 season that it would be one of the most exciting in NASCAR’s 43-year history. Aside from intense on-track competition, headlines included Richard Petty, NASCAR’s most popular and successful driver with 200 victories and seven series championships, retiring after 32 years. Also, a young Jeff Gordon made his first Cup Series start in the Nov. 15 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway after two seasons in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

With 28 races completed, the championship battle narrowed to Kulwicki, Elliott, Davey Allison, Harry Gant, Mark Martin and Kyle Petty, all mathematically within striking distance of the title entering the final race. To win the title, Allison needed to finish sixth or better, but he fell short after being involved in an accident. The race and the championship came down to two men – Elliott and Kulwicki. Elliott won the race in Junior Johnson’s Ford, while Kulwicki finished second in his own Ford. Kulwicki led 103 laps to Elliott’s 102, clinch- ing five bonus points for leading the most laps and that was the deciding factor in the championship.

Billed as an underdog driver against the highly financed teams, the Wisconsin native received NASCAR’s highest honor in New York City in Decem- ber 1992. On April 1, 1993, Kulwicki, along with three others, were killed in a private plane crash while en route to Bristol, Tennessee, for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway

1992

PRESIDENT: GEORGE H.W. BUSH

NO. 1 SONG: “END OF THE ROAD” BY BOYS II MEN

MAJOR NEWS STORIES: TORONTO DEFEATS ATLANTA IN THE WORLD SERIES;

BEST DRIVER

BILL ELLIOTT ENTERED THE 1992 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as the new driver of Junior Johnson’s Ford Thunderbird. Elliott left the Dawsonville, Georgia, team founded by his family and eventually purchased by businessman Harry Melling. Elliott scored five victories and finished a very close second in the Cup Series point standings to champion Alan Kulwicki. He dominated the month of March with wins at Rockingham, Richmond, Atlanta and Darlington and topped the Atlanta finale.

BEST RACE

THE HOOTERS 500 AT ATLANTA MOTOR Speedway on Nov. 15 was by far the greatest race of the 1992 NASCAR season. At no other time during the 29-race schedule did any other race feature as many interesting story lines. That event had an intense championship battle among six drivers; it was the final race for seven-time champion Richard Petty; and it marked the series debut of future NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Books and television documentaries have spotlighted the race as one of NASCAR’s greatest events.

TOP CARS

BILL ELLIOTT’S No. 11 Junior Johnson Ford scored five victories and 17 top-10 finishes, while Davey Allison drove Robert Yates’ Ford to similar results, posting five victories and 17 top-10 finishes.

SEASON RECAP

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Feb. 16 | Daytona International Speedway | Davey Allison

March 1 | Rockingham Speedway | Bill Elliott

March 8 | Richmond International Raceway | Bill Elliott

March 15 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Bill Elliott

March 29 | Darlington Raceway | Bill Elliott

April 5 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Alan Kulwicki

April 12 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Davey Allison

April 26 | Martinsville Speedway | Mark Martin

May 3 | Talladega Superspeedway | Davey Allison

May 24 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Dale Earnhardt

May 31 | Dover International Speedway | Harry Gant

June 7 | Sonoma Raceway | Ernie Irvan

June 14 | Pocono Raceway | Alan Kulwicki

June 21 | Michigan International Speedway | Davey Allison

July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | Ernie Irvan

July 19 | Pocono Raceway | Darrell Waltrip

July 26 | Talladega Superspeedway | Ernie Irvan

Aug. 9 | Watkins Glen International | Kyle Petty

Aug. 16 | Michigan International Speedway | Harry Gant

Aug. 29 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Darrell Waltrip

Sept. 6 | Darlington Raceway | Darrell Waltrip

Sept. 12 | Richmond International Raceway | Rusty Wallace

Sept. 20 | Dover International Speedway | Ricky Rudd

Sept. 28 | Martinsville Speedway | Geoff Bodine

Oct. 5 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Geoff Bodine

Oct. 11 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Mark Martin

Oct. 25 | Rockingham Speedway | Kyle Petty

Nov. 1 | Phoenix International Raceway | Davey Allison

Nov. 15 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Bill Elliott

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