Close this search box.
Close this search box.

The Most Surprising Dominant Wins in NASCAR History

Article Contents

In This Article

Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

Circle B Diecast Push Down

Michael McDowell surprised NASCAR on Sunday with a dominant win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. He is not the first driver to score a surprising win in dominant fashion. What are the five most surprising dominant wins in NASCAR history?

5. Martin Truex Jr.: 2007 Autism Speaks 400 at Dover

In 2007, Martin Truex Jr. was in the midst of his second season in the Cup Series with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. His rookie season was okay, but the start to his second season was up-and-down. That changed at rain-delayed race at Dover in June when Truex Jr. earned the moniker “Monday Martin.”

After starting in 26th position, Truex Jr. worked his way into the lead by lap 125. He would go on to lead 216 of the final 275 laps on the way to his first career victory. Little did we know that this would not be the last time Truex Jr. would either dominate a race or win on a Monday.

4. Steve Park: 2000 Global Crossing at The Glen

Steve Park was having a tough third full-time season in the Cup Series driving for Dale Earnhardt in 2000. Still searching for his first career win in August, the Cup Series came to Watkins Glen, and Park was not known for his road racing prowess. He qualified a pedestrian 18th place, but he soon marched to the front.

He took the lead on lap 31, and he would lead 53 of the final 60 to take home the win over a hard-charging Mark Martin. That was Park’s first career win, and it was his only career top-5 finish on a road course. Who expected his first career win to come here?

3. Mario Andretti: 1967 Daytona 500

Putting Mario Andretti on this list may be a head-scratcher to some, but understand the context of this situation. Andretti was already a two-time IndyCar Champion by the time 1967 rolled around, but in NASCAR he had not had much success. He finished 37th in the Daytona 500 the year prior with NASCAR legend Smokey Yunick, but another great team Holman-Moody nabbed Andretti up for the 1967 Daytona 500.

Even then, he was not everyone’s hot pick to win the Daytona 500 as open-wheel drivers had generally struggled during the early years of the race. However, Andretti flipped the script as he led 112 laps after starting in 12th. He would win the race over NASCAR star and teammate Fred Lorenzen, and it checked another box on what would become an iconic racing career.

2. Lake Speed: 1988 Transouth 500 at Darlington

One of the good guys of the sport, Lake Speed was able to have some success on the race track with a few top-10 finishes, but a win always eluded him. That changed in 1988 at the spring race at Darlington Raceway. Speed started in eighth, and he took the lead for the first time at lap 170.

He would lead 178 of the final 197 laps as his blistering pace caused only three cars to finish on the lead lap. He won by almost 19 seconds over Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison, the only two other drivers to finish on the same lap as Speed.

1. Johnny Mantz: 1950 Southern 500

The 1950 Southern 500 was the first race of its’ kind in NASCAR history. It was the first race held on a purpose-built “Superspeedway”, Darlington, which at that time was a track of more than 1.0 miles in length. It was also the first 500-mile race in NASCAR history.

Just like today, Darlington was tough on tires, and Johnny Mantz had an idea. Instead of using the regular racing tires used on the track, he elected to use truck tires. As a result of the increased tire life, Mantz led the final 351 laps of the 400 laps race, and it was his only career Cup Series win. He started 43rd that day, which to this day is the furthest back any Darlington race winner has ever started.

Michael McDowell was not the first surprise dominant winner in NASCAR history, and he will probably not be the last. Who will be the next one to be added to this list?

Share this:

Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts