Alan Dennis Kulwicki (December 14, 1954 - April 1, 1993), nicknamed "Special K" and the "Polish Prince", was an American NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) racecar driver. He started racing at local short tracks in Wisconsin before moving up to regional stock car touring series. Kulwicki arrived at NASCAR, the highest and most expensive level of stock car racing in the United States, with no sponsor, a limited budget, and only a racecar and a borrowed pickup truck. Despite starting with meager equipment and finances, he earned the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award over drivers racing for well-funded teams. After Kulwicki won his first race at Phoenix International Raceway, he debuted what would become his trademark "Polish Victory Lap". Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup championship by what was then the closest margin in NASCAR history. He died early in 1993 in a light aircraft accident, and was unable to defend his championship. He has been inducted into numerous racing halls of fame and was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers. Kulwicki was known for being a perfectionist and doing things his own way. An engineer by trade, his scientific approach to NASCAR racing inspires the way teams are now run. He was insistent on driving for his own race team, AK Racing, during most of his NASCAR career, despite lucrative offers from top car owners. Described by his publicist as "a real hard type of person to get to know", he remained a bachelor throughout his life.
The 2006 Subway 500 was the thirty-second stock car race of the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and the sixth in the ten-race season-ending Chase for the Nextel Cup. It was held on October 22, 2006 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia, before a crowd of 65,000. The 500-lap race was won by Jimmie Johnson of the Hendrick Motorsports team, after he started from ninth position; Denny Hamlin finished second, and Bobby Labonte came in third. Although Kurt Busch won the pole position, he was immediately passed by Jeff Gordon at the start of the race. One hundred forty-three laps later Johnson took the lead for one lap. Gordon regained the lead on the next lap, only to lose it to Johnson again on the 153rd lap. Labonte moved into the lead on lap 406 and held it with fifty-five laps remaining, when he was passed by Johnson. At the race's final restart on lap 495 Hamlin challenged Johnson for the lead, but the latter resisted Hamlin's passing maneuver and won the race. There were eighteen cautions and sixteen lead changes by five different drivers during the race. It was Johnson's fifth win of the 2006 season, and the twenty-third of his career. The result advanced him to third in the Drivers' Championship, forty-one points behind Matt Kenseth (who took over the championship lead when Jeff Burton retired during the race; this caused Burton to fall to fifth in the championship, one point behind Hamlin). Chevrolet maintained its lead in the Manufacturers' Championship, fifty-three points ahead of Dodge and sixty-one ahead of Ford with four races left in the season.