One-hit wonders are common in the music industry. They’re common in auto racing, too. Entering the 2009 season there were 58 drivers who had one career Sprint Cup win. Some of them are still driving and some of them have long since retired or passed on. It’s fun to goof on one-hit wonders, but we often forget that it takes a lot of talent – and yes, some luck – to make that one hit.
The 10 most-talented one-hit wonders in Sprint Cup history
10. Jim Hurtubise. He got his lone win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 1966. The regular USAC Series driver also was a 10-time Indy 500 starter.
9. Johnny Allen. Allen’s only credited Grand National win took place in 1962 at the historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. He defeated Rex White in the 200-lap event around the quarter-mile asphalt track and then promptly crashed and flew over the wall in spectacular fashion. Allen also crossed the finish line first at the inaugural race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1961 driving in relief of Jack Smith, who left the car when he burned his feet on heat coming through the floorboard. Although Allen finished the race, Smith was credited with the win.
8. Johnny Mantz. The inaugural Southern 500 champion had a pair of Indianapolis 500 starts and won the USAC stock car championship in 1956.
7. Sam McQuagg. The winning driver at the 1966 Firecracker 400 at Daytona also was Rookie of the Year in 1965. That season McQuagg was the other car involved in Cale Yarborough’s parking-lot-landing-crash at Darlington.
6. Juan Pablo Montoya. Only the greatest all-around drivers can boast a résumé like Montoya’s. He has victories in the Indianapolis 500, Grand Prix of Monaco, 24 Hours of Daytona and a CART championship. Montoya is the only active driver on this list. He could move off it by earning a second win to go along with his 2007 Sonoma trophy.
5. Frankie Schneider. Twenty-seven races in NASCAR’s top division netted the New Jersey native a victory at Virginia’s Old Dominion Speedway in 1958. Schneider, nicknamed “The Old Master,” is regarded as one of the best dirt modified drivers ever. In a career that began in 1947 he is estimated to have around 750 wins.
4. Bill Rexford. He has only one victory, but he also has a championship. The New Yorker’s sole win came in Canfield, Ohio, in 1950, which is the year he won his title. That was the first season the series was called Grand National.
3. Johnny Rutherford. The three-time Indy 500 winner’s lone Cup triumph came in a race that would not count today. Rutherford won the second 100-mile qualifying race for the 1963 Daytona 500. Prior to 1971 those races counted for points. “Lone Star J.R.” competed in IROC, CART and the CCWS. He is in several motorsports Halls of Fame.
2. Mark Donohue. Donohue, piloting Roger Penske’s AMC Matador, won the 1973 season opener in Riverside, Calif. His storied career included winning the 1972 Indy 500, the initial IROC title in 1974, titles in Can-Am, Trans Am and a stint in Formula 1.
1. Mario Andretti. If you are going to win one NASCAR race you might as well make it the biggest one. Andretti captured the 1967 Daytona 500, a win that is only one of his legendary accomplishments. Andretti won the 1978 Formula 1 title, 1969 Indianapolis 500, four IndyCar championships, an IROC title and he owns many wins at the highest levels of racing around the world.