1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
The 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season began on February 9, 1992 and ended on November 15, 1992. Independent owner/driver Alan Kulwicki of AK Racing won the Winston Cup championship in the second-closest championship battle in NASCAR history to-date (after 2011).
The 1992 season was considered one of the most dramatic and emotional years in NASCAR. Seven-time champion, and "King of stock car racing," Richard Petty retired from the sport at season's end, concluding a year-long "Fan Appreciation Tour.". Petty appeared across the country for autographs and diecast were made of his #43 car for all 36 of the races he appeared in. The season also saw the quiet debut of future champion Jeff Gordon, who was planning to move up after two seasons in the Busch Series. Gordon debuted the rainbow #24 DuPont Chevrolet at the final race of the year.
The season-long championship battle narrowed down to six drivers, the most ever going into the final race of the season. Davey Allison won the season-opening Daytona 500, and despite a roller-coaster season, remained first, or near the top of the standings all season. Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki experienced more consistent results, placing them comfortably near the top. Harry Gant, Mark Martin, and Kyle Petty were also factors during the season. Two-time defending champion Dale Earnhardt, however, suffered a dismal season, winning only one race, dropping out several times, and finished outside the top ten at season's end.
The season's climax occurred at the final race of the season, the Hooters 500 at Atlanta. Six drivers entered the race with a mathematical chance at winning the Winston Cup championship. Davey Allison led the charge, but ultimately fell short when he was involved in an accident. The race, and the championship came down to a two-man battle between Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki. Elliott won the race, while Kulwicki finished second. Kulwicki led 103 laps during the race (compared to 102 by Elliott), clinched the 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and won the Winston Cup title.
Tragically, only months later, both Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison would be killed in separate aviation crashes.
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