Lenny Pond had a Winston Cup career that had more downs than ups and for that reason he never made the big time. His biggest triumph was winning the 1978 Talladega 500 at a then world record speed of 174.700 mph. He was also the series' top rookie in 1973 beating out a young driver named Darrell Waltrip.
His career was filled with a lot of good, solid runs including seven runner-up finishes and 86 top-'5s. During the two years he ran the full circuit he finished fifth (1976) and seventh (1978) in the race for NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. Pond's best season (78) was the last-and only-year he ran for a top dollar team. As a result he never achieved the stardom that many thought would happen.
In only his third start in Winston Cup competition he finished seventh at Richmond and followed that with one top-5 finish and eight other top-10 finishes to win the 1973 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors in which NASCAR, at that time, called it the closest competition in history. After winning the award as an underdog, Pond said," I knew if they (NASCAR) went on performance alone, I would win it. Since they did, I'm very thankful." Among his rewards was an automobile.
In 1975 Pond finished second in both races at Richmond. In the fall event, he led laps 195 thru 375 before a long pit stop ruined his chance of winning. His makeshift crew had trouble changing his right rear tire, and then Pond was black-flagged for having a missing lug nut.
Pond saud," There were three or four races that I really deserved to win (at Richmond), but we didn't. Had a flat tire one time, another time I dominated the race and got put in the wall by Ed Negre. He didn't see me, and I was lapping him and he didn't see me and bam- I'm in the wall. Back then one win would have made a big difference."
In 1978 Harry Ranier hired Pond to drive his car and hired Waddell Wilson to act as head engine builder and crew chief. Pond skipped the first race at Riverside, CA. then went to Daytona to finish 10th in the Daytona 500. A week later at Richmond, Pond was looking like a sure winner as he led four times for 142 laps in the Richmond 400. But with 77 laps to go, he suffered a flat tire while leading. By the time he returned to the track, he trailed Benny Parsons by 24 seconds. Pond had a faster car than Parsons and was cutiing into his lead but ran out of laps and finished 2.6 seconds back. Later that year he finished second at Nashvillwe for the seventeenth runner-up finish of his career, but still no victory #1.
Pond heard rumors that Ranier was going to release him at the end of the season and hire Darrell Waltrip. Pond went to Talledage with that in mind and finally visited victory lane with an impressive run on a day a record 67 lead changes took place. He took the lead for the final time with five laps to go and held off Donnie Allison in a typical Talladega shootout. During a victory lane celebration speech Pons said, " when this race started, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, I've gone thru a lot of miserable days lately. I've heard the talk that I can't drive the superspeedways. I hope all that ens now." Despite a year in which he won five poles-the only ones of his career-finished seventh in points despite missing two races. He had eleven top-5 finishes and nineteen top-'10s in twenty-eight starts. Pond was released at the end of the season, however Darrell Waltrip was still under contract with Di-Gard and did not join Ranier.
Pond never did recover from his departure from Ranier and during the next seven tears he drove for numerous car owners, running a very limited schedule. In 1980 he had seven top-'10s including a third place finish in only seventeen starts.
Pond's career ended September 10, 1999 in a 11th place finish at Richmond, driving a Ford for Junie Dunlavey.