September 26, 2017
Seth and Sutton Sharp
After the 1992 Winston Cup season handed fans one of, if not the best, championship battle of all time, all eyes were on the 1993 season to see what it would bring.
A few races into the season, it took a tragic turn as defending Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki lost his life in a plane crash, three days before the Winston Cup race at Bristol. Rusty Wallace won the emotional event and honored Kulwicki, the defending race winner of the event, after his win by doing a “Polish Victory Lap”. In Victory Lane, Wallace “I said I was going to try to win this for Alan. I looped that baby around, I did the Alan Kulwicki Victory Lap and I was so proud for him. We miss him bad.”
As everyone in the NASCAR community was mourning the loss of Alan, tragedy struck again in July as a helicopter crash claimed the life of Davey Allison. Just as Wallace did following the passing of Kulwicki, Dale Earnhardt honored the fallen drivers after his win in the Miller Genuine Draft 500 at Pocono.
After sitting at the start/finish line with his team in prayer, Earnhardt completed a Polish Victory Lap, while holding a No. 28 flag out of his window. Earnhardt climbed from his No. 3 Chevrolet in Victory Lane, with the No. 28 flag in hand, waving it as the crowd erupted. “All of this is in the memory of Davey. I’d run second to him in a minute if it would bring him back. We miss Davey a lot. We miss Alan a lot.”
It was fitting that the two drivers who capped off emotional weekends with a victory, were the two drivers battling it out for a championship. Earnhardt took over the points lead after the 10th race of the season but Wallace stayed close. He continued to close the gap over the next 14 races, capped off with back-to-back wins, as the Series arrived at Martinsville in September.
In the season full of tragedy, qualifying for the Goody’s 500 put a few smiles back in the Winston Cup Series garage. Ernie Irvan, driving in his fourth race for Robert Yates in the No. 28, won the pole for the event, edging out Geoff Bodine, who recently purchased the assets to Kulwicki’s team.
The No. 28 and the No. 7 led the field to the green flag, bringing back memories of Allison and Kulwicki to all those watching.
When the green flag waved, Bodine quickly jumped out front, leading the first 32 laps before the No. 28 took control. Irvan dominated the event, leading 402 of the 500 laps, taking the No. 28 back to Victory Lane for the first time since Allison won at Richmond in March.
After the race, Irvan climbed from his car in Victory Lane, pulling down his uniform to show off a t-shirt honoring Allison. Irvan was visibly emotional and exhausted following his victory. “Everyone had their own idea on what they wanted to do in Victory Lane. I’ve been wearing this shirt since I started driving this car and I knew we could do it. This one is for Davey.”
As for the championship battle, Earnhardt edged out Wallace by 80 points to capture his 6th career title.