1978 Southern 500
|Race 22 of 30 in the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
Layout of Darlington Raceway
|Date||September 4, 1978|
|Official name||Southern 500|
|Location||Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina|
Permanent racing facility|
1.375 mi (2.212 km)
|Distance||367 laps, 500.5 mi (805.4 km)|
|Weather||Very hot with temperatures of 88 °F (31 °C); wind speeds of 8.9 miles per hour (14.3 km/h)|
|Average speed||116.828 miles per hour (188.016 km/h)|
|Driver||Wood Brothers Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Cale Yarborough||Junior Johnson & Associates|
|No. 11||Cale Yarborough||Junior Johnson & Associates|
|Television in the United States|
Keith Jackson |
Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR Tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.
The track is a four-turn 1.366 miles (2.198 km) oval. The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees. The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch are banked at six degrees. Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.
Darlington has something of a legendary quality among drivers and older fans; this is probably due to its long track length relative to other NASCAR speedways of its era and hence the first venue where many of them became cognizant of the truly high speeds that stock cars could achieve on a long track. The track allegedly earned the moniker The Lady in Black because the night before the race the track maintenance crew would cover the entire track with fresh asphalt sealant, in the early years of the speedway, thus making the racing surface dark black. Darlington is also known as "The Track Too Tough to Tame" because drivers can run lap after lap without a problem and then bounce off of the wall the following lap. Racers will frequently explain that they have to race the racetrack, not their competition. Drivers hitting the wall are considered to have received their "Darlington Stripe" thanks to the missing paint on the right side of the car.
40 competitors competed in this 367-lap race. A crowd of 65000 fans cheered them on for four hours and seventeen minutes. Nine cautions slowed the race for 72 laps; 21 changes for first-place position were made. The race leader remained unchanged for long periods of time; including Cale Yarborough's 69-lap lead which lasted from lap 118 to lap 186 and his late-race streak where he would take over the lead on lap 261 and would never relinquish it.
Cale Yarborough would defeat future NASCAR on Fox personality Darrell Waltrip by three seconds while Richard Petty, rookie driver Terry Labonte, and Bobby Allison would round out the top five finishers. Yarborough's win would become his fourth at the Southern 500. Terry Labonte would make an impressive Winston Cup debut at this race. He was 11 laps down at the end, but finished fourth.
Yarborough would retain the lead in championship points after this race. Bruce Hill would finish in last place on lap 80 due to a problem with his vehicle's rear end. David Pearson would get the pole position with a speed of 153.685 miles per hour (247.332 km/h). D. K. Ulrich was cited for nitrous oxide in his vehicle and lost the rest of the 1978 Winston Cup Series season. Neil Bonnett had the most unfortunate incident by hitting the telephone wires while exiting pit road; nobody was injured.
The total purse of the race was $200,170 ($768,918 when considering inflation); Yarborough received $30,175 for winning the race. ($115,912 when considering inflation).
|1||21||David Pearson||Mercury||31.998||153.685||Wood Brothers|
|3||15||Bobby Allison||Ford||32.170||152.863||Bud Moore|
|4||72||Benny Parsons||Chevrolet||32.285||152.318||L.G. DeWitt|
|5||54||Lennie Pond||Chevrolet||32.302||152.238||Harry Ranier|
|6||11||Cale Yarborough||Oldsmobile||32.314||152.182||Junior Johnson|
|7||1||Donnie Allison||Chevrolet||32.397||151.792||Hoss Ellington|
|8||5||Neil Bonnett||Chevrolet||32.424||151.665||Rod Osterlund|
|9||43||Richard Petty||Chevrolet||32.431||151.633||Petty Enterprises|
|10||2||Dave Marcis||Chevrolet||32.496||151.329||Rod Osterlund|
Top ten finishers
|2||2||88||Darrell Waltrip||Chevrolet||367||$18,450||44||175||+3 seconds|
|3||9||43||Richard Petty||Chevrolet||366||$13,175||1||170||+1 lap|
|4||19||92||Terry Labonte||Chevrolet||356||$9,850||0||160||+11 laps|
|5||3||15||Bobby Allison||Ford||355||$10,875||21||160||+12 laps|
|6||16||9||Bill Elliott||Mercury||355||$5,200||0||150||+12 laps|
|7||25||48||James Hylton||Chevrolet||353||$7,000||0||146||+14 laps|
|8||29||67||Buddy Arrington||Dodge||350||$6,380||0||142||+17 laps|
|9||28||25||Ronnie Thomas||Chevrolet||349||$6,270||0||138||+18 laps|
|10||4||72||Benny Parsons||Chevrolet||348||$7,650||12||139||+19 laps|
Standings after the race
- Weather information for the 1978 Southern 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
- 1978 Southern 500 at Racing Reference. Accessed 2012-03-05. Archived 2012-03-07.
- "Darlington Raceway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- 1978 Southern 500 racing information at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. Accessed 2012-03-05. Archived 2012-03-07.
- 1978 SOUTHERN 500 - Yarborough makes it four at YouTube
- 1978 Southern 500 crew chiefs information at Racing Reference
- "1978 Southern 500 qualifying information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
1978 Volunteer 500
| NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1978 Capital City 400
| Southern 500 races