The Most Exciting NASCAR Championship Race in History

The Most Exciting NASCAR Championship Race in History

Marcus Fortugno

In NASCAR, to win the championship, you have to make it through the playoffs. In NASCAR, the top sixteen drivers in the points standings make it into the playoffs. As the season goes on, however, there are multiple rounds in which the four drivers with the lowest amount of points get eliminated. Eventually, there will be four drivers that are still in the playoffs. Those drivers will duel it out in the final race of the season and whoever finishes in the first place or the one that finishes the closest to first, is the NASCAR champion.

However, this format started in 2014. Before that, NASCAR had “The Chase” in which drivers battled for the championship with points. Not a playoff format, so most of the time, there would be three drivers that would be able to win the championship. However, sometimes, there would be, four, five, and in this case, six drivers. This is the 1992 Winston Cup finale, and this is going to be one crazy ride.

The 1992 season was coming to a close. Six drivers would be competing for a championship. Those drivers, in order of least amount of points to greatest, were Mark Martin and Kyle Petty who is going to need a good amount of luck to win the championship. Harry Gant who might be able to win the championship, and if so will become the oldest NASCAR champion. Now we get into the top three. These drivers are the favorites to win. The driver in third place is Bill Elliot, NASCAR’s most popular driver. Then in second place is a shock driver, Alan Kulwicki. Kulwicki is a middle-of-the-pack driver and before the 1992 season, he only won 3 races. And finally, we have the favorite to win the championship, Davey Allison. Allison was one of the toughest drivers on the track that year. Every time he seemed to win a race, he would injure himself in a crash. Nevertheless, however, he was the points leader.

Now before we get into the race, however, there are some notable events

A Busch Series driver named Jeff Gordon was getting ready for his first career Winston Cup race, driving the very colorful Dupont number 24 car.

And most importantly, “The King” Richard Petty was making his last career race. Richard Petty holds the NASCAR title for most career wins at exactly 200. The King was also one of NASCAR’s most loved drivers and many fans were sad to see him go.

And now, the race.

The race started with Rick Mast in the pole position and Brett Bodine next to him. As the green flag waved, the two drivers in front battled it out while the other drivers fought for position, Then as they completed the first lap, coming into turn 1, Bodine’s car slid up the racetrack and into Rick Mast and they both crashed. They had not even completed two laps yet and the chaos had already exploded. The incident sent both drivers’ cars careening backward into the wall. Although Mast’s car was able to keep on going, unfortunately, Bodine’s car got destroyed, and even worse, the car was hit by the 41 of Hut Stricklin, who luckily escaped with a stiff neck. Several more cars would also spin out, trying to avoid the crash.

After a caution period, the race restarted. The leader Dale Earnhardt would lose the lead after being passed by the 4 of Ernie Irvan. The race would be uneventful for s while. The only interesting thing that happened was that Earnhardt would retake the lead. Then the first green flag pit stops would happen with Earnhardt and multiple other drivers leading the first group of drivers. Then a huge problem happened. Earnhardt’s car would not fire back on and the crew had to push it out of the pit box. As this was happening, the 30 car of Michael Waltrip would spin off of turn 2. he would also blow a tire, causing the second caution to fly. Most of the field would come and pit.

After the restart, the 57 of Bob Schacht would have car trouble and come to a stop on the side of the track. More cars would come into pit road as Schacht would hilariously get the car fired back up, only for him to be forced to be held back on the front stretch, making people, including me, think that his car had more car issues.

They were able to restart the race luckily, only for another huge crash to happen on the front stretch. This huge crash takes out a ton of cars. Debris is everywhere. No one can avoid this. And the most horrific sight of them all, a car comes flaming down the turn and onto the side of the track. Only this isn’t just any car, It is The King, Richard Petty. All the fans are in shock as Richard’s car flames down the track. He is able to climb out but sadly, is unable to continue the race.

After the big crash, many big things involving the Championship happen. For starters, Davey Allison has had trouble with his car. He has now dropped out of the top spot and had to pit. Now it is a race between Bill Elliot and Alan Kulwicki. Then 50 laps after Dale Earnhardt would spin out, there would be a championship dilemma.  The 4 of Ernie Ervan comes spinning out of turn 4 and hits the unluckiest driver in the championship race, Davey Allison. This crash would take Davey out of the race and out of the championship. Now it was just Elliot and Kulwicki.

At about lap 310, Kulwicki would come into the pit lane to get enough fuel to finish the race. Soon after, Elliot would come into the pits. Only one problem. Elliot’s strategy was to claim the “Most Laps Led”. Back then, if you lead the most laps, you would get extra points. This was how Elliot was going to win the championship. But his team makes a huge mistake. They were going to pit on the same lap as Terry Labonte, but they accidentally go to the pits a lap before Labonte and he leads one lap. Even if Elliot were to lead the rest of the laps and win the race. It would not matter because while he would have led 102 laps, Kulwicki will have led 103 laps.

As the race comes to a close, Bill Elliot comes across the line to win, knowing that he has lost another championship, and Alan Kulwicki comes across the line, knowing that he was just won his first championship. Kulwicki holds the Winston Cup Championship in Victory Lane with joy and happiness.

As this story comes to a close, here are some quick facts.

Jeff Gordan would not finish the race, but later would finish out four seasons as the Champion, winning the first Brickyard 400 and setting the record for most races won there by a single driver.

Sadly this would be Alan Kulwicki’s only championship. On April 1st, 1993, he was flying in a team plane when it suddenly crashed en route to Bristol Motor Speedway. The crash killed everyone on board.

And finally, Richard Petty’s career would not come to an end in a single crash. On the final lap, many laps down. The 43 STP car comes rolling down the front stretch with fans cheering for him as he crosses the finish line.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I will be making more NASCAR-related article’s in the future!