One Hit Wonder: Johnny Benson Jr.

Johnny Benson Jr. earned his only NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2002 at North Carolina Speedway. (NASCAR Photo)
Johnny Benson Jr. earned his only NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2002 at North Carolina Speedway. (NASCAR Photo)

One hundred ninety-three drivers have won races in the NASCAR Cup Series. Of those drivers, 61 won only one race.

We’re diving into the National Speed Sport News archives to look back at some of these one-hit wonders and the races they won.

Johnny Benson Jr. had a long and successful career that included championships in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, but success often eluded him at NASCAR’s top level.

However, on Nov. 3, 2002, Benson found victory lane in the NASCAR Cup Series at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C.

Driving for Nelson Bowers in the No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac, Benson started 26th in the 393-lap event. He worked his way toward the front and by the end of the day was in contention for the victory.

He did so by pitting for fuel on lap 292 and not hitting pit road again, putting him in a position where he would have to save fuel if he hoped to make it to the checkered flag. However, he had one of NASCAR’s best chasing him.

After taking the lead from Kurt Busch on lap 366, Benson found Mark Martin in close pursuit. Martin, driving the same No. 6 Ford that had been sponsored for years by Benson’s sponsor Valvoline, took second from Busch on lap 370 and began chasing Benson.

Martin couldn’t quite catch Benson in the final dash to the checkered flag. Benson beat Martin to the checkered flag by .261 seconds, earning his only NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Benson celebrated the victory with a burnout on the frontstretch and promptly ran out of fuel.

“James (Ince, crew chief) said before it went green: ‘It’s within a half a lap, I just don’t know what side of the start-finish line it’s going to be on. We’ll just have to deal with it’,” Benson told National Speed Sport News at the time. “I knew the way he was calculating it was based on what we were doing earlier. The track got so slow at the end, I knew gas mileage would come to us in the end.”

Benson led 520 laps during his career and finished second three additional times in Cup Series competition, but the victory at North Carolina Speedway was his only series triumph in 274 starts.