One-Hit Wonders At Talladega Superspeedway
When David Ragan and David Gilliland finished 1-2 at Talladega Superspeedway in May, it was unusual, but not unprecedented. Ragan had won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race once before, at Daytona in July 2011, and Gilliland had finished second once, at Sonoma in 2008.
But in its long and storied history, Talladega has produced some truly unprecedented career-best moments. Nine drivers scored their first career victories at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, most recently Brad Keselowski in 2009.
Six of those nine first-time winners won their only Cup races at Talladega. Here they are:
Richard Brickhouse - In 1969, Brickhouse won the very first NASCAR Sprint Cup race ever run at Talladega after most of the series regulars walked out in protest over safety concerns. But NASCAR founder Big Bill France said show would go on and Brickhouse won. Brickhouse would go to appear in just 38 more Cup races, earning a total of four top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
Dick Brooks - The 1969 NASCAR Rookie of the Year, California native Brooks beat Buddy Baker by a whopping 7.2 seconds to win at Talladega in 1973. Driving for Junie Donlavey for much of his career, Brooks made 358 starts, scoring 57 top-five and 150 top-10 finishes. Brooks had a series of new-car dealerships prior to his death from pneumonia in 2006.
Lennie Pond - Another NASCAR Rookie of the Year (1973), Pond shocked the world with his 1978 Talladega victory setting a then-record race average of 174.700 miles per hour in a race that ran caution-free. In 234 Cup starts, Pond had 39 top-five and 88 top-10 finishes. After retirement, he sold Chevrolets in Virginia.
Ron Bouchard - Sensing a theme yet? The 1981 NASCAR Rookie of the Year came from nowhere to edge Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte at the finish line of the '81 Talladega 500. Now the owner of a string of automobile dealerships in New England, Bouchard had 19 top fives and 60 top 10s in 160 NASCAR starts.
Bobby Hillin Jr. - One of the first young guns, Hillin made his Cup debut at the age of 17 in 1982, driving a car for legendary crew chief Harry Hyde. In 1986, he became the youngest winner in NASCAR history at the time, capturing a victory at Talladega. The Texan never quite lived up to the early expectations, scoring only eight top-five and 43 top-10 finishes in 334 career starts.
Phil Parsons - Still active as a Cup car owner and a broadcaster on FOX, Parsons finished second to Rusty Wallace in the 1984 NASCAR Rookie of the Year competition. In 1988, Parsons won the Winston 500 and had his best career points finish of ninth. All told, Parsons had 10 top-five and 40 top-10 finishes in 203 starts.