clearn.png
Sunday August 1st, 2021 10:38PM

Elliott honors Kulwicki with 1992 championship paint scheme

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Chase Elliott has seen the picture somewhere — it's hanging in their family shop, Bill Elliott confirms — of his father shaking hands with Alan Kulwicki following the 1992 season finale.

The photo symbolizes a golden era for NASCAR and shows one driver losing with grace and accepting that the best man won.

That '92 closer is a benchmark race for NASCAR in that a nail-biting season came to an end during an emotional passing of the torch. Richard Petty retired that day, using Jeff Gordon's first Cup race to mark his farewell, all while six drivers showed up at Atlanta Motor Speedway in contention for the Winston Cup title.

Bill Elliott entered the race ranked third out of the six, trailing both Davey Allison and Kulwicki. He'd pretty much mentally conceded the title, but wasn't going to be embarrassed at his home track.

And so the title came down to the final stretch in a two-driver battle between Elliott and Kulwicki. It was Elliott first to the checkered flag but Kulwicki was second, and in leading a race-high 103 laps to Elliott's 102, Kulwicki earned a five-point bonus and the Cup.

Bill Elliott and Kulwicki met in victory lane and the photograph shows a smiling Elliott shaking hands with the champion as Kulwicki hoists an open bottle of champagne.

“It's weird, right? Because Alan beat Dad that year to win the championship,” Chase Elliott told The Associated Press. “But as I've been around and listened to stories about Alan and listened to my dad talk about him, there was a lot of respect there for him.

"Dad and his team didn't win, but they sure respected Alan greatly.”

Chase Elliott will honor Kulwicki this year in the Darlington Raceway throwback race, a tradition started in 2015 in which current drivers honor the sport's past. The reigning Cup champion will drive a No. 9 Chevrolet identical to the Hooters paint scheme Kulwicki drove in the only title race of his career.

Kulwicki was the beloved antithesis of NASCAR's good ′ole boy system. He was a Polish-American interloper from Wisconsin and a NASCAR independent who drove for his own team. Kulwicki was killed in a plane crash five races into the 1993 season on his way to Bristol Motor Speedway. He’d been at an appearance at a Hooters in Knoxville and flying on a Hooters corporate jet.

The 1992 season with Kulwicki was Hooters' first year as the full-season sponsor for a driver, and the restaurant chain scaled back its participation following Kulwicki's death.

“It's all bittersweet. We won the race but he won the war," Bill Elliott told the AP. “And then him getting killed in the plane crash, he really didn't have time to enjoy what he had accomplished. He was a tough competitor, he was a great champion and a big part of the sport.”

Hooters in 2017 signed on as a sponsor for Chase Elliott and features the champion in its national marketing campaigns. Although the sponsorship is for only three races a year, the branding with Chase Elliott resonates with NASCAR and now Darlington offers the opportunity for Hooters to honor both its current champion and its first champion.

Chase Elliott, the three-time reigning most popular driver through five full Cup seasons, has only heard about Kulwicki. He's 25 and was born at the tail of his father's Hall of Fame career — Bill Elliott, the 1988 Cup champion, won only four of his 44 career victories after the birth of his only son.

Bill Elliott views this pairing with Kulwicki's paint scheme as another chance for his son to learn about a simpler NASCAR. Like Kulwicki, racing was a family hobby for Elliott and both drivers liked to “do their own stuff.” Elliott followed Kulwicki as an independent driver/owner and ran his own team from 1995-2000.

“I'm sure Chase has an appreciation for it, but not the emotional part of that era,” Bill Elliott said. “Man, we lived it. You look back on it and I try to tell him, ‘Embrace where you are at. You know, it's going to be gone someday.'

"Shoot, I'm 65 now and look around wondering where it all went because it seems like yesterday it was '92.”

___

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Auto Racing, AP Online - Georgia News, NASCAR
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Italy orders 5-day quarantine on entries from EU
Italy has imposed a five-day quarantine on people entering from other EU countries in a bid to deter Easter getaways and limit the spread of the coronavirus
9:50AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Years later, Chickasaw remains returned to Mississippi home
Over the last century, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has been caring for the remains of hundreds of Native Americans who once inhabited the state
9:43AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Thailand denies forcing fleeing villagers back to Myanmar
Thailand’s prime minister is denying that his country’s security forces forced villagers back to Myanmar who had fled from military airstrikes, saying they returned home on their own accord
9:41AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Dapper Labs, creators of NBA Top Shot, get $305M in funding
Canadian blockchain technology company Dapper Labs has secured $305 million in private funding — some of it from current and former NBA players, including Michael Jordan — to scale up its virtual NBA trading card site, the company said Tuesday
9:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
Baylor beats Arkansas 81-72 for first Final Four in 71 years
Baylor reached the Final Four for the first time in 71 years, getting 22 points from MaCio Teague and a dominating defensive performance from Davion Mitchell to beat Arkansas 81-72
2:34AM ( 7 hours ago )
Houston tops Oregon State, reaches 1st Final Four since '84
Houston overcame a blown 17-point lead to hold off Oregon State 67-61 in the NCAA Tournament and reach the Final Four for the first time in 37 years
12:19AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Sports
Truex routs Bristol field on dirt to win his 1st Truck race
Martin Truex Jr. has won his first career Truck Series race with a dominating run on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway
2:28PM ( 19 hours ago )
Rain swamps Bristol dirt track; NASCAR to try again Monday
NASCAR will try to run its first Cup Series race on dirt since 1970 on Monday after heavy rain swamped Bristol Motor Speedway
3:45PM ( 1 day ago )
Record rains cause flash flooding in Tennessee; 4 dead
Heavy rain across Tennessee has flooded homes and roads, prompting officials to carry out numerous rescues
2:47PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Auto Racing
Georgia's new GOP election law draws criticism, lawsuits
Critics of Georgia’s new Republican-backed election law have issued fresh calls to boycott some of the state's largest businesses
6:07PM ( 15 hours ago )
New lawsuit challenges Georgia's GOP-backed election law
A group of civil rights and advocacy organizations including the Georgia NAACP have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging Georgia’s new Republican-backed election law
2:16PM ( 19 hours ago )
Gordon scores 13 in Denver debut, a 126-102 win over Hawks
Aaron Gordon scored 13 points in his debut with Denver, and the Nuggets beat the Atlanta Hawks 126-102
12:53AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Allgaier holds off Truex to win Atlanta Xfinity race
Justin Allgaier snatched the lead after Martin Truex Jr. made a mistake on pit road, and then held off his furious charge at the end to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway
8:18PM ( 1 week ago )
Kyle Busch cruises to another NASCAR Trucks win in Atlanta
Kyle Busch raced to his 60th NASCAR Trucks Series victory with a dominating performance Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway
5:40PM ( 1 week ago )
NASCAR returns to its roots with 1st of 2 visits to Atlanta
NASCAR is returning to its roots
3:32PM ( 1 week ago )
NASCAR
The Latest: Italy orders 5-day quarantine on entries from EU
Italy has imposed a five-day quarantine on people entering from other EU countries in a bid to deter Easter getaways and limit the spread of the coronavirus
9:50AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Years later, Chickasaw remains returned to Mississippi home
Over the last century, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has been caring for the remains of hundreds of Native Americans who once inhabited the state
9:43AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Thailand denies forcing fleeing villagers back to Myanmar
Thailand’s prime minister is denying that his country’s security forces forced villagers back to Myanmar who had fled from military airstrikes, saying they returned home on their own accord
9:41AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Donations for Asian American groups surge after killings
Asian American and Pacific Islanders groups have seen a spike in donations and contribution pledges since the shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent
9:35AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Epic Games complains about Apple to UK competition watchdog
Epic Games has submitted a complaint about Apple to the U.K. competition watchdog, which is investigating the iPhone maker over its dominant position in app distribution
9:29AM ( 36 minutes ago )