The 1990 Winston Cup season was one of the most exciting in NASCAR history. Some of the sport's biggest names competed for the championship and several wins over the 29-race schedule. This season also drew attention due to a controversial illegal carburetor spacer penalty that dropped Mark Martin down in the standings and prevented him from winning his first Cup Series championship. He still finished the season near the top of the leaderboard, but many people wondered if Martin would have won the trophy.
Following the 1990 NASCAR Cup Series season, the top seven drivers remained in stock car racing. They all went on to enjoy successful seasons, and several became hall of famers after stockpiling wins with regularity. Of the top seven, six are still alive while the other died in a tragic accident. Here's where the drivers are today.
The winner of the 1990 Winston Cup Series — his fourth championship — Dale Earnhardt continued to showcase his talents behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet. He added three more championships to his already impressive resume, bringing his total to seven. Earnhardt nearly added an eighth in 2000 but finished just behind Bobby Labonte in the standings.
He entered the 2001 season seeking a record-breaking eighth championship. Instead, he tragically died at the age of 49 during the season-opening Daytona 500. He collided with Ken Schrader after contacting Sterling Marlin and hit the wall head-on. Halifax Medical Center officially pronounced his death at 5:16 p.m. ET on Feb. 18, 2001.prevnext
A Hall of Fame driver (2017), Mark Martin became one of the most popular drivers in the Cup Series. He finished second overall in the standings five separate times, including his first in 1990, and developed a reputation as the "best driver to never win a championship." Martin took part in 882 races over his 31-year Cup career, winning 40 and securing 453 top-10 finishes. Following the 2013 season, Martin spent time with Stewart-Haas Racing in a consulting and testing role before spending one season with Roush Fenway Racing as a driver development coach.
Now that he has retired, Martin helps other people get into cars. He owns a series of automobile dealerships in Arkansad, Mark Martin Automotive. He also owns Mark Martin Powersports in Batesville, which sells boats, motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs.prevnext
Geoffrey Bodine finished third in the Cup Series standings in 1990, capping off the best season of his 27-year career. The Hendrick Motorsports driver continued racing until 2012 when he announced that he was retiring to spend time with his family. Bodine now owns a Honda Power Sports dealership in Florida and he builds bobsleds for the United States national team.
Prior to his retirement, Bodine took part in the inaugural Daytona 250 Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway. He was involved in a fiery accident in which his truck went up into the air and into the catch fencing at 190 mph. The impact destroyed the front of the truck and ruptured its fuel cell, and then the incident continued when Lonnie Rush Jr. and Jimmy Kitchens each hit the truck. Bodine rolled nine times and suffered numerous injuries, missing 10 races of the Cup Series season.prevnext
Bill Elliott, the winner of the 1988 Winston Cup, became one of NASCAR's most popular drivers during his career. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville won the Daytona 500 twice, the Brickyard 400 once and the Southern 500 three times. He set a record by being named Most Popular Driver 16 times and ultimately withdrew his name from the ballot. Following a fourth-place finish in 1990, Elliott continued racing on a full-time basis until 2003 and then took part in part-time schedules until 2012.
Elliott most recently attended the Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway. He watched his son, Chase Elliott, cap off a successful 2020 season with a Cup Series championship, the first of his career. The two Elliott men can now both say that they each won a championship the same years (1988, 2020) that the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers both won titles.prevnext
Morgan Shepherd started his racing career in 1967 and went on to compete in multiple series. He achieved a career-best fifth-place finish in 1990, leapfrogging 1989 champion Rusty Wallace. Shepherd continued racing in the Cup Series on a full-time basis until 1998. He still participated in a number of races until 2014 and became the oldest driver to ever start a race (71 years, nine months and two days). Shepherd still races and competed in 12 Xfinity Series events in 2019.prevnext
Rusty Wallace spent more than two decades in the NASCAR Cup Series, winning the 1989 Cup Series championship. He returned in 1990 in pursuit of a repeat but finished sixth in points. Wallace competed on a full-time basis until the 2005 season when he walked away with 55 wins and the 1989 Cup Series championship to his name. This solidified his status as a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class. He worked as a commentator for ESPN starting in 2006 and continued in 2007. Now Wallace owns and operates eight car dealerships in East Tennessee.prevnext
Ricky Rudd finished the 1990 season seventh in points after winning one race and finishing in the top-five eight separate times. He returned to the Cup Series in 1991 in search of his first championship but could not overtake Earnhardt in the standings. This second-place finish would be the best of his career.
Rudd continued racing for several seasons, ultimately retiring from full-time racing at the end of the 2007 season. He capped off a 33-year career in the Cup Series and was named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. The Rooster built a reputation for being an "ironman" during his NASCAR career, starting 788 consecutive races from 1981- 2005. Now that he is retired, he serves as a Hall of Fame voter and occasionally takes part in a go-kart league in North Carolina.prev