April 4 in NASCAR history: Rusty Wallace honors Alan Kulwicki after Bristol win
On April 4, 1993, Rusty Wallace had a typical Rusty Wallace day on the high-banks of Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Team Penske driver started from the pole and led 376 of 500 laps around the short track before winning over Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty. It was his fourth of nine career wins he’d earn at Bristol.
But what Wallace did right after taking the checkered flag was a reminder that it was not a typical weekend.
After his cool down lap, Wallace turned his No. 2 Pontiac around and drove the opposite way around the half-mile track. It was the “Polish Victory Lap,” the winning trademark of 1992 Cup champion Alan Kulwicki.
On April 1, Kulwicki and three others were killed in a plane crash as they traveled to Tennessee for that weekend’s races.
A fellow Midwest native, Wallace had competed against Kulwicki in the American Speed Association before they arrived in NASCAR.
Wallace’s win came a year after Kulwicki claimed one of his two career Bristol wins.
In Victory Lane, Wallace barely mentioned his performance in the race, using the moment to highlight Kulwicki.
“It’s almost tearful, I tell you I wanted to win this race so bad,” Wallace told ESPN. “I was so mad when Alan got killed there. ... When I took that thing, I looped that baby around, I did the Alan Kulwicki Victory Lap and I was so prideful.”
Also on this date:
1976: Cale Yarborough beat Richard Petty by a lap at North Wilkesboro. It could have been two laps if Yarborough didn’t have to pit to have a banner that blew off a camper removed from the front of his car.
1982: Dale Earnhardt ended a 39-race winless streak with a victory at Darlington. It was the first of his three wins in the No. 15 Ford owned by Bud Moore.
2004: Elliott Sadler eared his second Cup Series win in a side-by-side finish with Kasey Kahne at Texas Motor Speedway. Kahne had led 148 laps but was beat by .028 seconds.