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If Past Means Anything, Waltrip’s $1-Million Bid Is Off to Good Start

If Darrell Waltrip believes in omens, he should be smiling as he contemplates racing for a $1-million bonus Sunday in the Southern 500.

Alan Kulwicki won the pole Thursday for the 40-year-old stock car race at Darlington Raceway with a lap at 160.156 m.p.h over the 1.366-mile track. It was the fourth pole this season for the University of Wisconsin engineering graduate.

And each time Kulwicki has started first--at Atlanta, Charlotte and Bristol--Waltrip has won the race.

“We were sittin’ there pullin’ for him,” Waltrip said, grinning, after Kulwicki’s run in his Ford Thunderbird.

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Waltrip qualified his Chevy Lumina ninth at 158.479 m.p.h. and will start in the fifth row, alongside Dale Earnhardt, Winston Cup series leader.

“Maybe it means something and maybe it doesn’t,” Waltrip said of the Kulwicki connection. “But in a situation like this, anything you have stacked in your favor means something.”

Waltrip earlier this year won the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola World 600 at Charlotte to become eligible for the Winston Million, a bonus given to any driver who can win three of NASCAR’s big four races in a single season. The fourth race, in which Waltrip finished fifth, is the Winston 500 at Talladega.

Bill Elliott won the bonus in 1985--the first year it was offered--by winning at Daytona, Charlotte and Darlington.

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