NASCAR is back at Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400, and is honoring a racing legend who was taken far too soon.
The Goodyear 400 will feature not one, but two tributes to Alan Kulwicki. Kulwicki was a NASCAR sensation and the 1992 Winston Cup Series champion. Tragically, he died at the age of 38 in a plane crash in Tennessee on April 1, 1993, just months after winning the season title.
In honor of the late driver’s memory, two drivers, Chase Elliot and Corey LaJoie, are bringing out specialty schemes for Darlington. The pair will be speeding down Darlington in near-perfect homages to two of Kulwicki’s most famous cars.
Elliott, who is typically driving the No. 9 car with NAPA’s blew and yellow, is in a Hooter’s car instead. The wing restaurant chain has sponsored Elliott since 2018, and was the primary sponsor of Kulwicki’s 1992 championship season.
As for LaJoie, he is trading in the Schluter Systems sponsorship and scheme on his No. 7 for Zerex antifreeze, a product now produced by Valvoline. Kulwicki drove with Zerex decorating his machine in 1987.
It is a pair of beautiful tributes. Kulwicki’s death is still a tragedy in NASCAR that is vivid in fans’ minds, as the 38-year-old Greenfield, Wisconsin-born racer was at his zenith when he passed.
There’s no guarantees at Darlington Raceway, but if these incredible schemes are anything to judge by, LaJoie and Elliot could be in for a great day in South Carolina.
NASCAR Takes on Darlington
NASCAR has been racing in Darlington for quite some time. The Cup Series took to the South Carolina blacktop in the first year it opened in 1950, and it has hosted many races since. The “Track Too Tough to Tame” is known for its unique configuration.
NASCAR.com‘s description of Darlington reads:
“The Goodyear 400 marks the 120th Cup race hosted by Darlington Raceway in the series’ history,” the description reads. “Sunday’s race will be the first race of the season at Darlington. The 1.33-mile oval located in Darlington, South Carolina has an asphalt racing surface with 25 degrees of banking in turns 1 and 2, and 23 degrees of banking in turns 3 and 4. With 3 degrees on the frontstretch and 2 degrees on the backstretch, this track has unique characteristics that require drivers to race against the wall. As a result, drivers will earn their ‘Darlington Stripes’ from grazing the wall through the infamous turns.”
A classic track, racers in classic schemes and a mild day of weather in the forecast. It’s shaping up to be a perfect day for NASCAR.