Monday, April 1 marks 20 years since the passing of 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki of Greenfield, Wis. Kulwicki and five others were killed in a plane crash near Bristol Motor Speedway that day in 1993.
Until Tony Stewart won the 2011 Sprint Cup, Kulwicki had been the most recent owner/driver to capture the series championship.
Nicknamed “Special K” and the “Polish Prince,” Kulwicki won only five Cup races, but is known as the pioneer of the “Polish victory lap” – a reverse lap around the top of the track after winning, to salute the fans.
The championship came after a thrilling bout against Bill Elliott, who had won five races and earlier in the year held a 278-point lead.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel racing beat reporter Dave Kallmann offers a reflection here.
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IMS President J. Douglas Boles
“We’re glad Danica plans to return to the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next May,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Her final career start will make what’s already shaping up to be a terrific Month of May even more interesting for our fans.
“It’s also fitting that Danica is wrapping up her career at the place and in the race where she became a household name and captured the world’s attention in 2005 – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. We’re looking forward to seeing her back in an Indy car next May alongside all of the tremendous drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
The @DanicaPatrick “double” is a 1,000 Miles not 1,100 & has been announced! @DISupdates 500 & @IMS 500 in 2018. She’s always done things her own way! Cool she’ll finish where she really started – @IMS!
Really really proud of everything she has accomplished and look forward to the next chapters together. She’s not done accomplishing her goals, she has many of those left and 2 huge races left. pic.twitter.com/rGAuJToM76
I enjoyed following @DanicaPatrick even before she was driving Indycars. Im glad I got to race with her and admire the driver she is. Thanks Danica for the impact you had on @JRMotorsports and being an inspiration to many.
She’s polarizing and everyone has an opinion about her, but to me I think it’s pretty cool that the race that put Danica Patrick on the map will be the final one she competes in as a racecar driver. #102ndIndy500
I think we've all been critical of Danica – or particularly the media coverage of Danica – at times. But she's been a trailblazer in both #IndyCar & #NASCAR, successful in both and will get to go out on her own terms.