Junior Johnson's Offer
Prior to the 1990 Winston Cup season, Junior Johnson offered Kulwicki a chance to race for his team. Johnson, a legendary figure in the NASCAR world, had won 50 races in his career. He became a team owner after he retired from driving and built his organization into one of NASCAR’s best. Johnson had won six championships as an owner, three each with Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. Now, Johnson wanted Kulwicki to be his driver, but Kulwicki turned him down, choosing to stay the course with AK Racing.
Kulwicki got off to a rocky start in 1990 but improved over the course of the year. He also moved the team to a new shop down the street from Charlotte Motor Speedway. He would earn 13 top 10 finishes in the 29-race season, including six in a row at the end of the year. One of those top 10s was Kulwicki’s second career victory, which came at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. However, Zerex decided to end its sponsorship of AK Racing once the season was over.
Johnson approached Kulwicki again during the offseason and offered him a place on his team for 1991. Once again, Kulwicki declined the offer. He explained years later that “When I first came into Winston Cup Racing, I just wanted to race. I just wanted to drive for somebody else. I did it this way (owning his own team) out of necessity. Eventually, I got offers to drive for other people, but by the time I got the offers, I had so much invested in this team, I didn’t want to give up on it.”
So Kulwicki went into 1991 as an owner/driver once again, but this time without a sponsor. He did get to run a special US Army-themed car in the Daytona 500, but the No. 7 Ford was blank for the next two races.