When NASCAR entered the 90s it was maintaining success as a sport. It definitely wasn’t a major mainstream sport yet, but it did have good coverage. It had plenty of drama when it came down to the championships and drivers. 90 and 91 had NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt win his fourth and fifth Championships in NASCAR. He also won his sixth and seventh in 93 and 94. To win four Championships in five years is a great accomplishment in what was then the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In 92 NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki won the Championship by a mere 10 points!
The most exciting part about that Championship race is that it really came to the last lap, literally. Alan lead just one lap more than NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, and out finished him just by one spot! Alan won the race, and Bill got second. Alan calculated exactly to the lap that if he just led one more lap, he would win the Championship, and that’s exactly what happened. It was, in most respects, the closest NASCAR Championship battle in the history of the sport. That final race, the Hooters 500, had not only the closest finish in NASCAR history, but it had the retirement of seven time Champion Richard Petty and the start of a career for the up and coming Jeff Gordon.
Jeff Gordon was born in California, and was born to race. He raced go karts at age 5, and by his mid teens he was a dominate dirt sprint car racer. He was always interested in the Indy car series, and always wanted to run the Indianapolis 500 growing up. But that never happened. He was running a then Busch series car for the Bill Davis Racing, capturing rookie of the year in 91, and won a NASCAR record 11 poles in 92. All being in a Ford Thunderbird. In 92 Jeff got his first start in the then NASCAR Winston Cup Series driving a Chevrolet Lumina, for Rick Hendrick. Jeff wrecked and finished in the 30s, but that wouldn’t be what would define his legacy.
Within just two years Jeff was always a contender at the different venues that NASCAR visits. He won his very first of what is currently 83 race victories in the 1994 Coke 600. In the very next year Jeff would win his very first Championship in NASCAR Winston Cup Racing. But more was to come of this legacy, and the legacy of Dale Earnhardt.