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The 1976 Daytona 500, the 18th running of the event,[2][3][4][5][6] happened on Feb. 15th, 1976 at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fl. It is remembered for the late-race duel and accident between David Pearson and Richard Petty. Many fans consider this finish to be the greatest in the history of NASCAR.[7] The end of the race was televised live on American network ABC.[8]

1976 Daytona 500
Race details[1]
Race 2 of 30 in the 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Track map of Daytona International Speedway.
Track map of Daytona International Speedway.
Date February 15, 1976 (1976-02-15)
Location Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.
Course Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.023 km)
Distance 200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 77 °F (25 °C); wind speeds approaching 14 miles per hour (23 km/h)
Average speed 152.181 miles per hour (244.912 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Norris Reed
Qualifying race winners
Duel 1 Winner Dave Marcis Nord Krauskopf
Duel 2 Winner Darrell Waltrip DiGard Motorsports
Most laps led
Driver A. J. Foyt Ellington Racing
Laps 66
No. 21 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing
Television in the United States
Network ABC's WWOS
Announcers Bill Flemming
Jackie Stewart
Chris Economaki
Nielsen Ratings 12.8/37
(18.3 million viewers)

First Daytona 500 starts for Neil Bonnett, Terry Ryan, Salt Walther, D. K. Ulrich, Roy Smith, Jimmy Lee Capps, Skip Manning, Tighe Scott, Dick May, and Jimmy Means.[6] Only Daytona 500 starts for Terry Bivins, Johnny Ray, Dr. Dick Skillen, David Hobbs, and Tom Williams.[6] Last Daytona 500 starts for Joe Frasson, Jackie Rogers, David Sisco, and Earl Ross.[6]


USAC stock car racer Ramo Stott won his only career NASCAR pole position.[8] There was a major speed discrepancy between cars in their qualification runs. Top teams were qualifying in the 178 miles per hour (286 km/h) to 179 miles per hour (288 km/h) range and a few teams qualified in the 186 miles per hour (299 km/h) range. Two of the teams who qualified in the 186 miles per hour (299 km/h) range were disqualified after NASCAR inspectors found suspicious extra fuel lines. Some teams attributed these lines to performance-enhancing nitrous oxide.[8] One driver later admitted that he deliberately qualified slower to let the time from "offending" teams stick out.[8]

In the 125-mile qualifying races, Dave Marcis won race 1, while Darrell Waltrip claimed race 2.


The opening laps were a battle for the lead between Buddy Baker, Waltrip, and David Pearson. AJ Foyt rocketed from the rear to lead 68 laps before falling out with engine failure. An accident on lap 112 involving Johnny Ray and Skip Manning ended Ray's racing career.[9]

Late in the race, Richard Petty and David Pearson were nose-to-tail, two laps ahead of all other competitors. On the final lap, Pearson passed Petty on the backstretch, and Petty attempted to re-pass in turn 3. Petty did not completely clear Pearson and the two cars made contact with each other and the wall, sending them spinning into the infield grass, just yards from the finish line. Petty's car stalled and would not re-fire. Pearson re-started his stricken car and crossed the finish line to win. Petty, with the help of a push-start from his crew, crossed the line for 2nd.

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[6] Differential
1 David Pearson 365 0
2 Benny Parsons 330 -35
3 Lennie Pond 310 -55
4 Richard Childress 286 -81
5 Richard Petty 268 -97
6 Frank Warren 264 -101
7 J.D. McDuffie 252 -113
8 D.K. Ulrich 233 -132
9 James Hylton 232 -133
10 Dave Marcis 229 -136


  1. ^ "Weather of the 1976 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2014-03-09.
  2. ^ NASCAR.COM – Daytona Countdown: '76 – Jan 21, 2005
  3. ^ – The 1976 Daytona 500 – July 28, 2003
  4. ^ Restrictor-Plate This :: The `Best of' the Daytona 500: 1976
  5. ^ No. 8 – Feb. 15, 1976: Duel at Daytona --
  6. ^ a b c d e 1976 Daytona 500 –
  7. ^ Howstuffworks "No. 1: The 1976 Daytona 500"
  8. ^ a b c d Falk, Duane (2002). The Daytona 500: The Great American Race. Metro Books. pp. 72–74. ISBN 1-58663-169-1.
  9. ^ "Ray's condition serious after three-car wreck". Gadsden, AL: The Gadsden Times, February 16, 1976, p.7.