Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alan Kulwicki: A video history lesson

Jimmie Johnson continues to march towards his 4th consecutive championship - despite his Texas troubles today. He has an army of engineers and mechanics, a hall of fame crew chief, an owner with a bottomless wallet, and a "do over" fake championship deciding points system.

Its hard to believe its been 17 years since Alan Kulwicki won his one and only championship at Atlanta in 1992. Its even harder to believe the number of fans who know little or nothing about him. NASCAR exploded with new fans in the mid to late 1990s as Dale Earnhardt continued to win championships and the new guy, Jeff Gordon, carved out his own legacy with wins and championships. Later, the sport attracted even newer fans as Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and even Juan Pablo Montoya joined the circuit.

Gordon made his debut in the Cup series in the same race Alan Kulwicki won his championship. To add even more drama, The King - Richard Petty - wrapped up his storied career in the same race.

I was at the last race of the 1992 season to see my hero wrap up his career and to witness the championship battle between Kulwicki, Bill Elliott, and Davey Allison. It seems only yesterday I was there. Yet its been 17 years.

The King banked 7 championships. Earnhardt won a handful in the 1990s to bring his own total to seven. Gordon has four - a number soon to be matched by Johnson. Kulwicki captured only one - yet did not survive even six months after winning it to serve as reigning champion.

ESPN prepared this nice, respectful piece about Alan's start, his championship run, and his passing.


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