The AK Racing Legacy
Kulwicki’s championship team did not stay together long after his death. However, many of them continued to work in NASCAR, finding success with other organizations.
Paul Andrews remained as crew chief for Bodine when he took over AK Racing. He and Bodine won another four races together. Andrews also served as crew chief for Jeremy Mayfield at Roger Penske’s and Michael Kranefuss’ team. His last victory as a crew chief came in 2001, one week after Dale Earnhardt was killed at the end of the Daytona 500. Andrews was working for Earnhardt’s race team, and he guided driver Steve Park to an emotional victory at Rockingham.
Tony Gibson, the AK Racing car chief, later became a crew chief as well. His greatest success came while working at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team co-owned by former driver Tony Stewart. Gibson won six races with SHR, including the 2017 Daytona 500 with driver Kurt Busch.
Other former members of AK Racing went on to earn championships with other organizations. Brian Whitesell went to work for Hendrick Motorsports and won his first two races as Jeff Gordon’s replacement crew chief late in the 1999 season. Whitesell did not remain a crew chief long term, but he stayed with Hendrick Motorsports for years and helped Gordon to his fourth championship in 2001. Peter Jellen went to Joe Gibbs Racing and won a championship as a member of Bobby Labonte’s pit crew in 2000.
AK Racing also trained several successful engine builders. Randy Clary, who had worked in Kulwicki’s engine shop, built motors for Dale Earnhardt Inc. that carried Dale Earnhardt Jr. to victories in NASCAR’s top division. Shane Parsnow joined Whitesell at Hendrick Motorsports and built engines for Gordon’s team.