The No. 7 Zerex Ford
For 1987, Kulwicki got a new sponsor and new car number. Rusty Wallace, Kulwicki’s friend and competitor from NASCAR and ASA, arranged for Zerex antifreeze to become AK Racing’s primary sponsor. Kulwicki also switched his car number to 7, thinking that he would be more recognizable and marketable with a single-digit number. He remains most associated with the number 7 to this day.
The 1987 season was also the first time Kulwicki ran every Winston Cup race. In 29 starts, he earned three top fives and nine top 10s. His best finish was a second-place result at Pocono International Raceway, a two and a half mile triangular-shaped track in the Pennsylvania mountains. Kulwicki engaged in a duel for the win with Dale Earnhardt that went all the way to the final lap.
Kulwicki also started to build a reputation as a strong qualifier. He won the first three pole positions of his career in 1987, two at Richmond Fairgrounds and one at Dover Downs International Speedway in Delaware. From 1987-1992, Kulwicki won 24 pole positions, more than any other Winston Cup driver.