Both the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup series head to Loudon, N.H., this weekend for racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This year marks the 20th anniversary of NASCAR’s Cup level racing at the track. But that first race for NASCAR in 1993 was the final race, anywhere, for one beloved star of the sport — Davey Allison.
Allison finished third in that first race in Loudon. Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin finished first and second. Allison led the race late before a late caution and pit stops put Wallace and Martin in front of him.
After the race, Allison took a helicopter to the nearest airport to board his plane and fly home to Alabama. A day later, Allison suffered fatal injuries in a crash while trying to land his own helicopter at Talladega Superspeedway in his home state of Alabama. He headed to the track to watch another Alabama racer, Neil Bonnett practice to make a return to NASCAR following career-threatening injuries. Neil Bonnett died from injuries sustained at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in a practice crash at the start of the following season. Also worth noting, reigning Cup champion Alan Kulwicki died in a plane crash a few months earlier en route to Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway.
Of course, had Allison not died in 1993, the racing community has no way of knowing, for sure, how racing would be different from a statistical standpoint. Still, it’s fun to wonder. Would Jeff Gordon be a four-time champion? Would Jimmie Johnson have won five? Would Dale Earnhardt have won either of his last two Cups? Who knows? Any of those could have gone to Allison. I guess when you really think about it, any of the Cup titles won since 1993 could have gone to somebody else other than who actually won them; one, two, or a few more could’ve been won by Allison. We’ll never know, I guess.
And what about Kulwicki, since he was mentioned earlier. Allison died before claiming a Cup title of his own, but he came close to a championship in 1992, the year in which Kulwicki claimed his one and only champion. Kulwicki did have his title. But whould he have won more? Would he have continued on as an owner/driver? Would we have had to wait so long after his 1992 championship season for another owner/driver to win the Cup (Tony Stewart in 2011)? Again, I guess we’ll never know.
It’s obvious that these two guys left NASCAR, and this life, on top. Surely, they both had a lot more successes coming had they been around at least a little longer.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (AutoRcngDaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner.