1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
|1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
The 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season began on February 9, 1992 and ended on November 15, 1992. Independent owner/driver Alan Kulwicki of AK Racing won the Winston Cup championship in the second-closest championship battle in NASCAR history to-date (after 2011).
The 1992 season was considered one of the most dramatic and emotional years in NASCAR. Seven-time champion, and "King of stock car racing," Richard Petty retired from the sport at season's end, concluding a year-long "Fan Appreciation Tour.". Petty appeared across the country for autographs and diecast were made of his #43 car for all 29 of the races he appeared in. The season also saw the quiet debut of future champion Jeff Gordon, who was planning to move up after two seasons in the Busch Series. Gordon debuted the rainbow #24 DuPont Chevrolet at the final race of the year.
The season-long championship battle narrowed down to six drivers, the most ever going into the final race of the season. Davey Allison won the season-opening Daytona 500, and despite a roller-coaster season, remained first, or near the top of the standings all season. Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki experienced more consistent results, placing them comfortably near the top. Harry Gant, Mark Martin, and Kyle Petty were also factors during the season. Two-time defending champion Dale Earnhardt, however, suffered a dismal season, winning only one race, dropping out several times, and finished outside the top ten at season's end, for just the second time in his Cup career.
The season's climax occurred at the final race of the season, the Hooters 500 at Atlanta. Six drivers entered the race with a mathematical chance at winning the Winston Cup championship. Davey Allison led the charge, but ultimately fell short when he was involved in an accident. The race, and the championship came down to a two-man battle between Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki. Elliott won the race, while Kulwicki finished second. Kulwicki led 103 laps during the race (compared to 102 by Elliott), clinched the 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and won the Winston Cup title.
- 1 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Drivers
- 2 Busch Clash
- 3 Gatorade 125s
- 4 34th Daytona 500 by STP
- 5 GM Goodwrench 500
- 6 Pontiac Excitement 400
- 7 Motorcraft Quality Parts 500
- 8 TranSouth 500
- 9 Food City 500
- 10 First Union 400
- 11 Hanes 500
- 12 Winston 500
- 13 The Winston
- 14 Coca-Cola 600
- 15 Budweiser 500
- 16 Save Mart 300K
- 17 Champion Spark Plug 500
- 18 Miller Genuine Draft 400
- 19 Indianapolis Motor Speedway test
- 20 Pepsi 400
- 21 Miller Genuine Draft 500
- 22 DieHard 500
- 23 Budweiser At The Glen
- 24 Champion Spark Plug 400
- 25 Bud 500
- 26 Mountain Dew Southern 500
- 27 Miller Genuine Draft 400
- 28 Peak Antifreeze 500
- 29 Goody's 500
- 30 Tyson Holly Farms 400
- 31 Mello Yello 500
- 32 AC Delco 500
- 33 Pyroil 500K
- 34 Hooters 500
- 35 Final Points Standings
- 36 Other information
- 37 Rookie of the Year
- 38 Additional reading
- 39 External links
1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Drivers
The Busch Clash, an exhibition event for all 1991 Busch Pole winners, and one "wild card" (from the fastest second round qualifiers from 1991) consisted of a 15-car field. The event was held Saturday February 9 at Daytona International Speedway, a slight change from previous seasons, which usually saw the race held on Sunday. The move was made at the request of CBS, who wanted the additional time on Sunday for their coverage of the 1992 Winter Olympics.
Brett Bodine drew the pole. The race consisted of two 10-lap "sprint" segments, separated by a competition yellow, during which the field would be inverted. Sterling Marlin won the first 10-lap segment, and Geoff Bodine won the second 10-lap segment, to claim the overall victory. Except for the 2-lap competition yellow, the race otherwise was completed caution-free.
|Top Five Finishers|
|1||15||Geoffrey Bodine||Bud Moore Engineering||20|
|2||4||Ernie Irvan||Morgan-McClure Motorsports||20|
|3||6||Mark Martin||Roush Racing||20|
|4||28||Davey Allison||Robert Yates Racing||20|
|5||7||Alan Kulwicki||AK Racing||20|
The Gatorade 125-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500 were held Thursday February 13 at Daytona International Speedway. Sterling Marlin and Bill Elliott started first in each of the races, respectively.
34th Daytona 500 by STP
Main article: 1992 Daytona 500
Junior Johnson's stablemates, Bill Elliott and Sterling Marlin, controlled the front row, qualifying 1st–2nd, and leading 58 of the first 91 laps. But on lap 92, Elliott, Marlin, and Ernie Irvan went three wide coming out of turn two. Marlin, sandwiched in the middle, bounced off both his teammate and Irvan, and all three lost control in front of the entire field, triggering the "Big One". In all, 14 cars were eliminated from the event. Richard Petty, in his final Daytona 500, was among the cars spinning to the infield grass, but he was not heavily damaged, and was able to continue.
Davey Allison and Morgan Shepherd were among the few cars who slipped by unscathed. Allison led 95 of the final 100 laps to claim his first Daytona 500 victory, following in the footsteps of his father Bobby. Shepherd was a surprise second, while Geoff Bodine was third. Alan Kulwicki started 41st after a crash in the Twin 125s qualifying race, but fought his way up to a fourth place finish.
GM Goodwrench 500
The GM Goodwrench 500 was held March 1 at Rockingham. The #42 of Kyle Petty won the pole. Bill Elliott recovered from his crash at Daytona to lead the final 213 laps, and win in only his second start at Junior Johnson Motorsports. His margin of victory was a whopping 12.75 second, nearly half a lap. Davey Allison followed up his Daytona victory finishing second, and extended his points lead.
Top Ten Results
Pontiac Excitement 400
The Pontiac Excitement 400 was held March 8 at Richmond International Raceway. Bill Elliott won the pole, and won his second consecutive race dominating most of the event. Elliott was pushed to the limit by Alan Kulwicki, who made a late charge and nearly pulled off a last-lap pass. The two raced clean on the final lap, and Elliott nipped Kulwicki at the finish line by 18 inches. It was just Elliott's second career win on a short track. Points leader Davey Allison finished 4th.
Motorcraft Quality Parts 500
The Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 was held March 15 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The #6 of Mark Martin won the pole. It became evident late in the race that hometown favorite Elliott would not be victorious on this day. They had missed on the set-up and he was muddled near 15th all day. Late in the race, leaders Allison, Kulwicki and Gant pitted under green for what would be their final pit stop of the day. Every car on the lead lap had pitted for tires and fuel for the final run, except Elliott, whose Budweiser Ford has always enjoyed remarkable fuel mileage. Suddenly, Mike Wallace spun his Dick Moroso owned Oldsmobile in turn two, bringing out a caution with 40 laps to go. Astonishingly, the result left Elliott on a lap by himself. Elliott cruised the next 40 circuits for his third straight victory. Perhaps crew chief Tim Brewer said it best when he quipped, "Maybe we should have backed into Victory Lane, that's sure how we got here!" Gant, Eamhardt, Allison and Trickle rounded out the top five.
Top Ten Results
The TranSouth 500 was held March 29 at Darlington Raceway. The #22 of Sterling Marlin won the pole. At a place where history was reared, Elliott put his name in the record books. In dramatic fashion, Elliott outran hard-charging Gant to post his fourth consecutive victory, tying the modern-era record for most successive wins. Ironically. it was Gant who completed the feat just six months earlier. Mark Martin was third and Ricky Rudd fifth. Allison remained consistent with a fourth-place showing, giving him a 58 point lead over Elliott.
Top Ten Results
Food City 500
The Food City 500 was held April 5 at Bristol International Raceway. Alan Kulwicki won the pole. Coach Joe Gibbs started 0–5 as head coach over the Washington Redskins. As car owner of the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet driven by Dale Jarrett, Gibbs was again 0–5. But, as he did in football, Gibbs appeared headed for victory in his sixth try. Jarrett led the late stages of the event, but on lap 474 of the 500-lap event, Kulwicki used lapped traffic to maneuver around Jarrett and post his first victory of 1992. Meanwhile, points leader Allison hit the wall separating the cartilage around his rib cage and knocking two vertebrae out of place and finished 28th. Elliott finished 20th and Allison's points lead was 29 over Elliott and 61 over Gant.
Top Ten Results
First Union 400
The First Union 400 was held April 12 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Alan Kulwicki won the pole. In one of the grittiest runs of the year, Allison overcame excruciating pain to collect his second win of the season. The pain was so overwhelming, Jimmy Hensley was called to qualify the Texaco Ford. He gave Davey a seventh-place starting position. Wearing a flak jacket and using an electrode-shock apparatus to help ease the pain, Allison held off a stiff challenge from Rusty Wallace and expanded his points lead to 86 over Gant, 106 over Elliott, 116 over Terry Labonte and 123 over Kulwicki.
Top Ten Results
The Hanes 500 was held April 26 at Martinsville Speedway. Darrell Waltrip won the pole. This will long be remembered as "Camber Day". With new trick rear ends tilted slightly to help get a better drive through the corners, one leader after another fell to the wayside with broken rear axles. First to be victimized was then-dominating Kulwicki, followed by Dale Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan-all in the final 50 laps. With 10 laps remaining, Brett Bodine assumed the lead, until his rear axle broke, leaving Mark Martin standing. Martin's rear axle withstood the strain a few more laps and came out victorious, his first win in 1992. Sterling Marlin posted a second-place finish, followed by Darrell Waltrip, Labonte and Gant. Allison suffered another spin and crash, re injuring his rib cage, but he held a scant 16 point lead over Gant.
Top Ten Results
The Winston 500 was held May 3 at Talladega Superspeedway. Ernie Irvan won the pole. This was Buddy Baker's 700th and final Grand National/Winston Cup start. He would later attempt but fail to qualify for the 1993 DieHard 500, and at Daytona and Atlanta in 1994. Allison's resiliency was evident again. Coming off his second crash of the season, Allison held off Elliott by two car lengths in one of the most exciting finishes of the year. Everyone teamed up against Allison for a final shot coming out of the Talladega tri-oval. Chevrolet teammates Ernie Irvan and Dale Earnhardt on the right and Junior Johnson teammates Elliott and Sterling Marlin on the left. But Allison held them off for his second consecutive Winston 500 victory. The win made Allison the only remaining contender for the Winston Million. He had claimed two of the legs required to claim the $1 million bonus from Winston-the Daytona 500 and Winston 500. He would have two shots at the bonus, Charlotte and Darlington
Top Ten Results
Main article: The Winston VIII
Lights were installed at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it became the first non-short track to host night racing. The lights debuted for this popular exhibition "all star" event, The Winston on Saturday night, May 16.
In a race nicknamed "One Hot Night," Davey Allison won in shocking fashion. During the final 10-lap sprint, Dale Earnhardt led Kyle Petty and Davey Allison. On the final lap, Petty nudged Earnhardt in turn three, spinning him out. Petty took the lead into turn four, but as he entered the qual-oval, Davey Allison pulled alongside. The two cars touched as they crossed the finish line, with Allison edging out Petty by less than half a car length. The two cars clipped, and Allison crashed hard into the outside wall, showering bright sparks over the track. Allison spent the night in the hospital instead of victory lane.
Main article: 1992 Coca-Cola 600
The Coca-Cola 600 was held Sunday May 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The #11 of Bill Elliott won the pole. All eyes focused on Allison, as he was recovering from his injuries the previous weekend during The Winston. Allison spent two days in the hospital, nursing a broken collarbone, re-injured ribs and bruises covering 60% of his body. After winning at Daytona and Talladega, Allison was eligible for the Winston Million if he was victorious at Charlotte. Allison had won the Coca-Cola 600 in 1991, and Charlotte was considered Robert Yates's best track.
In the late stages, Kyle Petty and Ernie Irvan battled for 1st-2nd. Dale Earnhardt was running third, about 3 seconds behind. After the final round of pit stops (laps 345-346), Dale Earnhardt moved in front of both Kyle Petty and Ernie Irvan to post his first - and only - win of 1992. Allison finished fourth in his bid for the $1 million bonus, but still expanded his point lead over Elliott to 111 points. Allison still had one more chance to win the Winston Million, later in the season at Darlington.
This was the first victory of the season for GM, as all races up to this point had been won by Fords.
The Budweiser 500 was held May 31 at Dover Downs International Speedway. The #26 driven by Brett Bodine won the pole. Harry Gant couldn't outduel the field, so he outfueled them en route to his first victory of '92. While other drivers were forced to pit late for fuel, Gant stretched his to the absolute limit and beat Darrell Waltrip in a fuel mileage war. Waltrip ran out with two laps remaining, leaving second for Earnhardt, third for Rusty Wallace and fourth for Ernie Inrvan. Points leader Allison was never a contender, finishing 11th, while Elliott was 13th. Allison's point lead dwindled to 70 points over Gant and just 99 over Earnhardt.
Top Ten Results
Save Mart 300K
The Save Mart 300K was held June 7 at Sears Point International Raceway. Ricky Rudd won the pole. On the day of this race NASCAR founder William France Sr. died. Ernie Irvan started 2nd in this race, but jumped the start and was given a stop-and-go penalty in the pits. Irvan came through the entire field to win in the fastest Winston Cup race held on the 2.52-mile (4.06 km) version of Sears Point. Irvan forged one of the most astonishing comebacks in NASCAR history. Irvan, qualifying second, was black-flagged for jumping the start of the race, relegating him to dead last on a road course with road cause demons Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd and Terry Labonte leading the field. Irvan blazed through the backmarkers, picked off the middle of the pack, then steadily reeled in leader Labonte with 10 laps remaining. Finally, on lap 67 of the 74-lap event, Irvan retook the top spot and drove on to a 3.6-second win. Irvan dedicated the race to Bill France Sr., the founder of NASCAR who died the morning of the race. Allison ran off course into a tire wall and finished 28th, tightening the points considerably. Earnhardt trailed by just 28 points, Elliott by 31 and Gant by 32.
Top Ten Results
Champion Spark Plug 500
The Champion Spark Plug 500 was held June 14 at Pocono Raceway. Ken Schrader won the pole. Kulwicki overcame a charging Mark Martin and a brush with danger while passing a lapped car in the final 15 laps to notch his second '92 win. Kulwicki nearly drove into the wall on the backstretch with 12 laps remaining while passing lapped traffic, yielding the lead to Elliott. But with 10 laps to go, Kulwicki blew by Elliott for a lead he would never again relinquish. Martin also moved by Elliott in the final five laps for second. Earnhardt had motor problems, dropping him back to 28th finishing position and fifth in the points. Allison's point lead over Elliott was 21 and now just 58 over Kulwicki.
Top Ten Results
Miller Genuine Draft 400
The Miller Genuine Draft 400 was held June 21 at Michigan International Speedway. After four wrecks and a plethora of misfortune, Allison was up to his old tricks — flat out dominating. Allison guided his Texaco Ford to an easy victory at Michigan, his fourth of the '92 season. Darrell Waltrip and Kulwicki ran in the top five all day and finished second and third, respectively. Allison padded his points lead to 67 over Elliott and 73 over Kulwicki.
Top Ten Results
Indianapolis Motor Speedway test
On the way home from Michigan, on June 22–23, nine top NASCAR Winston Cup series teams were invited to Indianapolis to participate in a Goodyear tire test. Although no official announcements were made, it was in fact an unofficial feasibility test to see if stock cars would be competitive at the circuit (see 1994 Brickyard 400). An estimated 10,000 spectators watched a rather exciting two days of history in the making. A. J. Foyt took a few laps around the track in Dale Earnhardt's car on the second day. ESPN covered the test.
The Pepsi 400 was held Saturday July 4 at Daytona International Speedway. Sterling Marlin won the pole position, and Richard Petty qualified second, in his final race at Daytona. President George H. W. Bush attended pre-race ceremonies which honored Richard Petty, and Bush served as the grand marshal. At the start, Petty whipped the capacity crowd into a frenzy when he led the first five laps. Before long, the fastest cars shuffled to the front, and the race became a battle between Ernie Irvan, Sterling Marlin, Dale Jarrett, Geoff Bodine and Bill Elliott. Irvan held off a furious charge by Marlin and Jarrett by two car lengths.
Frustration increased for Dale Earnhardt, now-midway through what would turn out to be his worst Winston Cup season. He was the first car out, suffering engine failure, dropping him 252 points behind points leader Allison, who still held a 46-point lead over Elliott.
Miller Genuine Draft 500
The Miller Genuine Draft 500 was held July 19 at Pocono Raceway. Davey Allison won the pole. This race changed the face of the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Allison had set a new track record during his pole run, then totally dominated the first 140 laps. An air wrench broke during yellow flag pit stops, putting Allison in seventh for the lap 146 restart. He moved quickly up to fourth on lap 148. But on lap 149, disaster struck. Allison and Darrell Waltrip tangled while jockeying for position exiting turn 2, sending Allison spinning and flipping through the infield grass, and over the inside guardrail. Allison suffered a broken right forearm, a dislocated wrist and a severe concussion. Waltrip drove to victory, and Allison was hospitalized in Pennsylvania for four days. Elliott finished 13th, but took over the points lead for the first time of the year. Allison, his immediate future unknown, now trailed by 13 points.
Top Ten Results
The DieHard 500 was held July 26 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Sterling Marlin won the pole. In awe-inspiring fashion, Allison walked into the garage area at Talladega, determined to put on his uniform and drive in the DieHard 500. With a tailor-made cast, a wrist brace and velcro on the shifter, Allison started the race and gained the all-important Winston Cup points. After four laps, backup driver Bobby Hillin Jr. took over the wheel and nearly drove the Texaco Ford to victory. Irvan and Marlin again battled for superspeedway supremacy with Irvan nipping the winless Marlin by a scant .19 seconds. Earnhardt had engine failure again and finished dead last for the second time in three races, taking him out of contention for a third consecutive Winston Cup title. Remarkably, Hillin's third-place run in Allison's sted gave the Texaco/Havoline team a one-point lead over Elliott in the points chase. Kulwicki trailed by 120 points and Gant by 129.
Top Ten Results
The Budweiser At The Glen was held August 9 at Watkins Glen International. Dale Earnhardt won the pole. It was the first race for Winston Cup cars since the new bus stop chicane was added in light of J. D. McDuffie's fatal accident in 1991. Nifty pit strategy and Mother Nature helped Kyle Petty notch the first road course victory of his career. Rain pushed back the start of the race more than three hours, and once the green flag finally fell, it was fairly evident it would be a sprint to the halfway point. Petty won a heated battle for the lead with Ernie Irvan between laps 32–36, a pivotal point in the race. After a caution, the race was restarted on lap 44, one lap before the halfway point, which would make the race official regardless of the weather. Petty brushed off then-leader Dick Trickle on lap 45 and on lap 46, the skies opened. After five laps under caution, the race was red-flagged, then called with Petty as the winner. Still suffering from his Pocono injuries, Allison needed help from road-race extraordinaire Dorsey Schroeder to post a 20th-place finish. Elliott was 14th, extending his points lead over Allison to 17.
Top Ten Results
Champion Spark Plug 400
Main article: 1992 Champion Spark Plug 400
The Champion Spark Plug 400 was held August 16 at Michigan International Speedway. The #7 of Alan Kulwicki won the pole. The physical pain Allison endured could not have prepared him for the emotional anguish the Alabama native would suffer through this weekend. On Thursday during Busch Grand National practice, Davey's younger brother, Clifford, died as the result of a single-car crash in turn three. The entire racing family mourned for the Allisons. Davey decided to race. He qualified third and finished fifth in a courageous effort. Harry Gant won another fuel mileage war, beating Darrell Waltrip and Elliott to the finish line by nearly five seconds. Elliott's lead moved to 37 points over Allison, 135 over Gant and 143 over Kulwicki.
Top Ten Results
The Bud 500 was held Saturday night, August 29 at Bristol International Raceway. The #4 of Ernie Irvan won the pole. The track surface had been changed from asphalt to concrete. Darrell Waltrip, the winningest driver in history at Bristol, won for the 12th time at the popular track. Waltrip out-dueled Dale Earnhardt and Ken Schrader in one of the most exciting races of the season. Davey Allison was running fifth when he lost control and hit the wall. After extensive repairs, Allison rejoined the race, only to crash into the inside wall on the frontstretch. He dropped out and finished 30th. Elliott was steady with a sixth-place finish, padding his Winston Cup points lead to 99 over Allison and 112 over Kulwicki.
The Mountain Dew Southern 500 was held September 6 at Darlington Raceway. The #22 of Sterling Marlin won the pole position. The attention largely focused on Davey Allison, who was eligible for the Winston Million. Cloudy skies and rain were in the forecast, but the race started on time and cruised well beyond the halfway point before rain entered the area. As the race progressed, Allison ran in the top three most of the day, and was in contention for victory, and the coveted Winston Million bonus.
Allison's biggest challenges, however, were impending rain, and hard-charging Mark Martin. Allison pitted first on lap 286 of the 367-lap event. Martin, pitting on the backstretch, came in on lap 289. Just moments later on lap 295, the skies opened and the rain that had threatened all day finally came. Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, and Brett Bodine were among a handful of drivers who had not yet pitted. When the red flag was displayed on lap 298, Waltrip was scored as the leader. Shortly thereafter, the race was called and Waltrip was declared the winner. It was Waltrip's second consecutive win, but more importantly, his first Southern 500 victory. Martin was second, with points contender Elliott coming home a surprising third. Allison was shuffled back to 5th.
A dejected Allison lost his chance at the Winston Million, and also lost ground to Elliott in the season standings. Elliott now led by 119 points over Allison. Alan Kulwicki was still in striking distance at 161 points behind.
Miller Genuine Draft 400
The Miller Genuine Draft 400 was held Saturday night, September 12 at Richmond International Raceway. The #4 of Ernie Irvan won the pole. Rusty Wallace was driving for newly acquired crew chief Buddy Parrott. Wallace led the final 139 laps and beat Mark Martin by 3.59 seconds for the win. Points leader Bill Elliott struggled home 14th a lap down, while Davey Allison spun twice and finished 19th. Darrell Waltrip's hot streak ended at two wins, but he followed it up here with a third place finish.
Peak Antifreeze 500
The Peak Antifreeze 500 was held September 20 at Dover Downs International Speedway. The #7 of Alan Kulwicki won the pole. Points leader Bill Elliott returned to his dominating ways, but late pit stop strategy cost him the victory. While battling Ricky Rudd for the lead, Elliott pitted first, taking on four tires and fuel. Rudd pitted for fuel only, and came out of the pits with a 9-second lead over Elliott. Rudd held on to beat Elliott to the finish line by 0.5 seconds, his only victory of the season. Elliott left Dover with a commanding 154-point lead over Allison.
The Goody's 500 was held Monday September 28 at Martinsville Speedway. Kyle Petty won the pole. Rain delayed the race from Sunday until Monday. Spirited battles throughout the field were the order of the day as the cold and humidity led to slick racing conditions. Geoff Bodine emerged through the constant melees to his first win for owner Bud Moore. Points leader Bill Elliott suffered his first engine failure of the season and finished 30th, next to last place. His lead was still a substantial 112 points over Allison.
The Tyson Holly Farms 400 was held October 5 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. The #7 of Alan Kulwicki won the pole. In a complete contrast from the previous week, the result was the same. Geoff Bodine recorded his second consecutive win, but in the caution- and incident-free Holly Farms 400. Bodine led the final 144 laps and lapped everyone except runner-up Mark Martin. He lapped Winston Cup points leader Bill Elliott eight times under green. Elliott's lead dwindled to 67 points over 11th-place finishing Allison and 144 over Kulwicki. Bodine's victory, in the Ford/Motorcraft sponsored car, clinched the first manufacturer's championship for Ford Motor Co. since 1969.
Mello Yello 500
The Mello Yello 500 was held October 11 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Alan Kulwicki won the pole. Martin charged past mid-race dominator Kyle Petty in the late stages, then held off Kulwicki in the final 50 laps to post what he called "the most important victory of his career." Martin led 107 laps en route to his second win of the season, which suddenly vaulted him back in contention for the 1992 Winston Cup title. He trailed leader Elliott by just 91 points with three races remaining. Elliott led Allison by just 39 points and Kulwicki by 47.
The AC Delco 500 was held October 25 at North Carolina Speedway. Kyle Petty won the pole. In the most dominating performance of the season, Kyle Petty continued his sensational second half of 1992 with a convincing AC-Delco 500 win. Petty led all but eight of the 492 laps in his father's final race in North Carolina. He only relinquished the lead during green flag pit stops. The outcome was never in doubt, so the attention moved to the points battle, which marched into Rockingham with six drivers in contention. After Petty's Victory Lane celebration, those six still remained in the title picture, with Elliott leading by 70 over Allison, 85 over Kulwicki, 94 over Petty and 113 over Gant.
The Pyroil 500K was held November 1 at Phoenix International Raceway. The #2 of Rusty Wallace won the pole. Smoke billowed from Elliott's Budweiser Ford, signaling an opportunity for the rest of the Winston Cup contenders. Allison and Kulwicki took full advantage. While Elliott's car suffered from a cracked cylinder head and overheating problems, which relegated him to a 31st-place finish, Allison patiently made his way to the front and won his second consecutive Pyroil 500. The emotional victory — Allison's first since the Pocono accident, vaulted him back into the points lead. Kulwicki ran strong all day and finished fourth, also moving him past Elliott in the point standings. Heading into the season's final event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Allison led Kulwicki by 30 points, Elliott by 40, Gant by 97, Petty by 98 and Martin by 113. It was the first time in the sport's history that six drivers were still in contention heading into the final event.
Main article: 1992 Hooters 500
The Hooters 500 was held November 15 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In what is largely considered one of the greatest NASCAR races of all-time, six drivers entered the race with a mathematical chance to win the Winston Cup (Bill Elliott, Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison, Kyle Petty, Harry Gant, and Mark Martin). The race was the highly publicized final start for 7-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty, and quietly, the first start for future champion Jeff Gordon. Davey Allison had to finish 6th or better to automatically clinch the championship.
Rick Mast won his first career Winston Cup pole, but crashed out on lap 2 and did not lead any laps. Championship contenders Mark Martin and Kyle Petty dropped out with engine trouble, while Harry Gant faded and was not a factor in the second half.
On lap 254, Davey Allison's fate was sealed. While running 6th — good enough to clinch the title — and charging to the front, suddenly disaster struck. Ernie Irvan had a tire going down, lost control and spun directly in front of Rusty Wallace and Allison. Wallace dodged the spinning Irvan, but Allison was not so lucky. Irvan pancaked the wall and bounced off into Allison. Allison spun into the inside pit wall, and damaged the tirerod. His car still had power, and tried desperately to get his car rolling, but to no avail. The crash effectively ended his day and his run at the championship. Elliott and Kulwicki were left to battle for the title.
Elliot and Kulwicki ran 1st-2nd for most of the second half, swapping the lead on several occasions. It became evident that the driver who led the most laps (receiving the 5 bonus points for leading the most laps) would clinch the championship. After the final gas-and-go pit stops, Kulwicki had led 103 laps. Elliott took over the lead, with Kulwicki settling into a comfortable second. Elliott led the rest of the way, his fifth victory of the season, bringing his laps led total to 102 laps, one short of Kulwicki's total — giving the 5 bonus points to Kulwicki.
Elliott won the Hooters 500, but Kulwicki's second place finish allowed him to claim the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup championship by a scant 10 points, the third-narrowest margin in the sport's history (after 2011, in which Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards finished tied, the title going to Stewart by virtue of more wins in the season, and Kurt Busch's 8 point margin over Jimmie Johnson in 2004). Meanwhile, the STP crew patched Richard Petty's car back together and "The King" rejoined the field with two laps to go and was running at the finish in his final race to receive the checkered flag.
Jeff Gordon started the race 21st and finished in 31st
Final Points Standings
Rookie of the Year
Jimmy Hensley, driving Cale Yarborough's #66 Ford, was named Rookie of the Year after posting four top-ten finishes in 22 starts. Veteran Chad Little drove the car in the first six races, but was replaced by Bobby Hillin, Jr. at North Wilkesboro and by Hensley in the following race at Martinsville. Hensley had previously never started more than 4 Winston Cup races in a season (doing so in 1984 and in 1991). Bob Schacht, Andy Belmont, and Dave Mader III were also declared for the award, but did not run enough races to compete for the award.