1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Recap


The 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup season was filled with hotly contested races and surprise upset victories. In the Talladega 500 alone, there were 67 lead changes before Lennie Pond drove his Oldsmobile around Benny Parsons with five laps to go and scored his lone NASCAR Winston Cup career victory by a narrow margin. Other races captured the season's spirited competition as well, as you'll see in the following article. Check out the season highlights, final standings, and, of course, plenty of pictures of the action.

January 22, 1978: Winston Western 500

Cale Yarborough drives his Oldsmobile to a close decision over Benny Parsons to win the Winston Western 500 on the road course at Riverside International Raceway. It is the first win for the Oldsmobile nameplate since 1959.

NASCAR Image Gallery

Cruising in the 1978 Daytona 500 are #27 Buddy Baker, #11 Cale Yarborough, and #51 A.J. Foyt.
Cruising three-abreast during a caution period in the Feb. 19 Daytona 500 are #27 Buddy Baker, #11 Cale Yarborough, and #51 A.J. Foyt. Baker took the wheel of the M.C. Anderson Oldsmobile team in 1978, replacing rookie driver Sam Sommers. Baker was in contention for the win until his engine let go with four laps remaining. Foyt was sidelined by a bone-jarring tumble on the 68th lap. Yarborough went on to finish second to Bobby Allison. See more pictures of NASCAR.

February 19, 1978: Daytona 500

Bobby Allison ends his 67-race winless skid with a dramatic victory in the Daytona 500. Allison pushes his Bud Moore Ford around Buddy Baker with 11 laps remaining and leads the rest of the way.

March 5, 1978: Carolina 500

David Pearson rallies from a late spin, passes Benny Parsons, and drives to victory in the Carolina 500 at Rockingham's North Carolina Motor Speedway. It is the 100th win of Pearson's illustrious career.

Number 15 Bobby Allison scoots ahead of #5 Neil Bonnett in the Oct. 1, 1978 Wilkes 400.
Number 15 Bobby Allison scoots ahead of #5 Neil Bonnett in the early laps of the Oct. 1 Wilkes 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Allison enjoyed a successful season in 1978, winning five races in the Bud Moore Ford and finishing second in the final NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National points standings. The five wins made the 1978 campaign sweeter for Allison because he was unable to win a ­single race in 1976 or 1977.

May 14, 1978: Winston 500

Cale Yarborough passes Buddy Baker on the final lap to win the Winston 500 at Talladega. Car owner Harold Miller and driver Keith Davis are suspended for 12 weeks when NASCAR officials discover an illegal bottle of nitrous oxide in the car in prerace inspections.

May 15, 1978: World 600

Willy T. Ribbs, America's leading African American race driver, fails to appear for two special practice sessions in preparation for the upcoming World 600 at Charlotte. Team owner Will Cronkrite, irked with Ribbs' absence, replaces him with relatively unknown short-track racer Dale Earnhardt.

Lennie Pond whips his #54 Oldsmobile under #27 Buddy Baker and #11 Cale Yarborough in the Aug. 6 Talladega 500.
Lennie Pond whips his #54 Oldsmobile under #27 Buddy Baker and #11 Cale Yarborough in the Aug. 6 Talladega 500. Pond grabbed the lead five laps from the finish and held off a quartet of challengers in a near photo finish to snare his first and only NASCAR victory. He averaged a then record 174.700 mph in the event, which featured 67 official lead changes. Pond had already been notified he wouldn't be back as driver for the Harry Ranier-owned team.

August 6, 1978: Talladega 500

Lennie Pond leads the final five laps and staves off challenges from six rivals to post his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory in the Talladega 500. Pond averages a record 174.700 mph.

August 20, 1978: Champion Spark Plug 400

David Pearson surges past Darrell Waltrip on the final lap to win the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan Inter­national Speedway. Richard Petty makes his first start in a Chevrolet, having parked his uncompetitive Dodge Magnum. Petty finishes 14th after a crash sidelines him in the final laps.

Dale Earnhardt rides the high line in Will Cronkrite's #96 Cardinal Tractor Ford in Daytona's 1978 Firecracker 400.
Dale Earnhardt rides the high line in Will Cronkrite's #96 Cardinal Tractor Ford in Daytona's Firecracker 400. Earnhardt finished a strong seventh in the July 4 event. The Cronkrite Ford was a specially arranged ride for young African American road racer Willy T. Ribbs, who was ­slated to drive the car at Charlotte in May. Ribbs failed to appear for two practice ­sessions. Cronkrite dumped Ribbs and signed Earnhardt to drive his car for a partial season.

September 4, 1978: Southern 400

Cale Yarborough scores his fourth win in the Southern 500. Terry Labonte, making his NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National debut, finishes fourth. D.K. Ulrich is suspended for the remainder of the season after a wreck reveals he has an illegal nitrous oxide bottle in his Chevrolet.

September 17, 1978: Delaware 500

Bobby Allison bags his third win of the season in the Dela­ware 500 at Dover. Privateer J.D. McDuffie wins the pole and leads the opening 10 laps, but departs with an engine failure after 80 laps.

Buddy Baker's #27 Oldsmobile tangled with #15 Bobby Allison in the Feb. 16, 1978 Twin 125-miler at Daytona.
Buddy Baker's #27 Oldsmobile tangled with #15 Bobby Allison in the Feb. 16 Twin 125-miler at Daytona. The qualifying race was run on a foggy day and visibility was a concern for many drivers. The crash forced Baker and Allison to start deep in the field for the Daytona 500, but both became principles in the outcome of the 20th annual running of NASCAR's premier race.

November 5, 1978: Dixie 500

Controversy flares at Atlanta International Raceway as Donnie Allison is declared the winner of the Dixie 500 after the crowd of 40,000 thought Richard Petty had nipped Dave Marcis in a race to the finish. NASCAR scorers failed to notice that Allison had passed both Petty and Marcis with three laps remaining. Rookie Dale Earnhardt ­finishes fourth in his first start with the Rod Osterlund team.

­November 19, 1978

Bobby Allison scores his fifth win of the year in the finale at Ontario Motor Speedway. Runner-up Cale Yarborough wins his third consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship by a margin of 474 points over Allison.

Continue on to the next page to see the full standings for the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup season.

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­

1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Standings

Cale Yarborough motored to his record-setting third consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup championship with another season-long sparkling effort. Yarborough's Junior Johnson team won 10 races and finished a comfortable 474 points ahead of runner-up Bobby Allison. Yarborough clinched the 1978 title at Rockingham in October.

1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Cale Yarborough
1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Cale Yarborough

Benny Parsons led the points standings after eight races from March through June, but Yarborough grabbed the lead with a victory at Nashville and never gave it up. Yarborough scored 23 top-five finishes in 30 starts in a near-perfect campaign. Allison won five races, including the Daytona 500.

Darrell Waltrip, a six-time winner, finished third in the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National standings, while Parsons fell to fourth by the end of the season. Winless Dave Marcis took fifth.

For the full standings for the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup season, see the chart below.

­1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Standings

Rank
Driver Points Wins Earnings
1
Cale Yarborough 4,841 10 $623,505.80
2
Bobby Allison
4,367 5 411,516.40
3
Darrell Waltrip
4,362 6
413,907.26
4
Benny Parsons
4,350 3 329,992.12
5
Dave Marcis
4,335 0 205,870.98
6
Richard Petty
3,949 0
242,272.84
7
Lennie Pond
3,794 1
181,095.70
8
Dick Brooks
3,769 0
137,589.99
9
Buddy Arrington
3,626 0
112,959.84
10
Richard Childress
3,566 0
108,701.42
11
J.D. McDuffie
3,255 0
86,856.42
12
Neil Bonnett
3,129 0
162,741.42
13
Tighe Scott 3,110 0
87,911.42
14
Frank Warren
3,036 0
68,172.85
15
Dick May
2,936 0
65,290.71
16
David Pearson
2,756 4
198,774.28
tie
Jimmy Means
2,756 0
61,724.28
18
Ronnie Thomas
2,733 0
75,814.14
19
Cecil Gordon
2,641 0
53,814.14
20
Tommy Gale
2,639 0
60,764.28
21
Roger Hamby
2,617 0
41,315.00
22
D.K. Ulrich
2,452 0
54,550.00
23
Baxter Price
2,418 0
36,560.00
24
Buddy Baker
2,130 0
111,765.00
25
Donnie Allison
1,993 0
127,475.0
26
James Hylton
1,965 1
48,045.00
27
Gary Myers
1,915 0
22,140.00
28
Ed Negre
1,857 0
28,995.00
29
Skip Manning 1,802 0
55,470.00
30
Grant Adcox
1,802 0
37,100.00
31
Ricky Rudd
1,260 0
50,630.00
32
Bruce Hill
1,214 0
25,770.00
33
Bill Elliott
1,176 0
42,215.00
34
Al Holbert
1,142 0
31,075.00
35
Ferrel Harris
1,066 0
39,685.00
36
Coo Coo Marlin
765 0
19,415.00
37
Blackie Wangerin
760 0
13,515.00
38
Bobby Wawak
680 0
5,870.00
39
Terry Labonte
659 0
21,395.00
40
Ralph Jones 634 0
6,305.00
41
Janet Guthrie 592 0
17,120.00
42
Earle Canavan 559 0
8,740.00
43
Dale Earnhardt 558 0
20,745.00
44
Roland Wlodyka 549 0
9,910.00
45
Joe Frasson 533 0
9,210.00
46
Nelson Oswald 501 0
2,955.00
47
Joe Mihalic 419 0
6,030.00
48
Jim Thirkettle 389 0
6,850.00
49
Jimmy Insolo
369
0
8,665.00
50
Satch Worley
368
0
6,205.00

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