With Darlington Raceway celebrating the 1990-94 era of NASCAR for its throwback weekend in 2019, it’s only fitting that the track recognizes one of the most dominant drivers of that time period – Dale Earnhardt.
During that five-year period in the early 90s, Earnhardt won an incredible four NASCAR Cup Series championships (1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994), accumulating 24 Cup wins, 75 top-five and 105 top-10 finishes in that span. The 1994 championship would be Earnhardt’s seventh and final series title.
“It was a special time to be part of Dale Earnhardt’s team back in the early 1990’s,” Danny “Chocolate” Myers, Earnhardt’s fuel man in those years said. “We had a tremendous amount of success in those days and were part of something truly special. The No. 3 team was hard to beat then and I’m just happy I was a part of it.”
Mark Martin would be one of Earnhardt’s biggest nemesis in the early 90s having lost the championship to The Intimidator by a mere 26 points in 1990. A 46-point penalty Martin suffered from a Richmond race earlier in the season for an illegal carburetor handed the title to Earnhardt that year.
After winning the 1991 championship comfortably over Ricky Rudd, 1992 was a trying year for the No. 3 team. Earnhardt finished 12th in the point standings, earning just one victory with six top-five showings, while Alan Kulwicki won the championship that year. It was his first finish outside the top-10 in points since the 1982 campaign.
After a disappointing 1992, the No. 3 team regrouped and cruised to another comfortable championship in 1993 over Rusty Wallace. The 1994 and final Cup title for Earnhardt was his best yet. He battled with Ernie Irvan for the points lead throughout the season, but Irvan suffered a near-fatal incident in the August race at Michigan, handing the title to Earnhardt. The next closest finisher was Mark Martin, who was 444 points behind.
“The dominance that Dale Earnhardt had during the early 90s was as an impressive feat that we’ve seen in our sport,” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said. “Very few drivers over the last 70 years have had the kind of success that he had from 1990-94. He definitely lived up to his nickname of “The Intimidator” and was almost always the guy up front that everyone was chasing. It was an impressive run for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team for sure.”
Four of Earnhardt’s victories in the 1990-94 era came at Darlington Raceway. He won both races in 1990, and the 1993 and 1994 spring races at the Lady in Black.
Despite losing Earnhardt in 2001, the sport continues to recognize the icon and NASCAR Hall of Famer on a regular basis and Darlington Raceway will celebrate his achievements during its throwback weekend festivities in 2019.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. by the numbers: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Wins – 76 (8th all-time)
Poles – 22
Top-5 Finishes: 281
Top-10 Finishes: 428
Laps Led: 25,684
Most wins at track (Cup): Talladega Superspeedway (10), Atlanta Motor Speedway (9), Bristol Motor Speedway (9), Darlington Raceway (9)
Darlington Raceway PR