Monday marks 20 years since Alan Kulwicki’s passing

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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.

This Friday, April 5, the Milwaukee County Historical Society will open the Alan Kulwicki: A Champion’s Story exhibit, on display until December 31. More information can be found at www.kulwickiexperience.com and/or www.milwaukeehistory.net.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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