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The 1976 Southern 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on September 5, 1976, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.

1976 Southern 500
Race details[1]
Race 22 of 30 in the 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Date September 5, 1976 (1976-September-05)
Official name Southern 500
Location Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.375 mi (2.212 km)
Distance 367 laps, 500.5 mi (805.4 km)
Weather Very hot with temperatures of 84.9 °F (29.4 °C); wind speeds of 7 miles per hour (11 km/h)
Average speed 120.534 miles per hour (193.981 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Wood Brothers Racing
Most laps led
Driver David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing
Laps 93
Winner
No. 21 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Keith Jackson
Chris Economaki

The five drivers that dominated the 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season were David Pearson (average finish of 7th place), Cale Yarborough (average finish of 8th place), Richard Petty (average finish of 9th place), Benny Parsons (average finish of 10th place) and Bobby Allison (average finish 12th place).

Contents

BackgroundEdit

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.[2] 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.[2] The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees.[2] Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.[2]

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.

SummaryEdit

The race took four hours and nine minutes for David Pearson to defeat Richard Petty by nearly three seconds. Pearson ended a career slump in the Southern 500, taking the ninth win of his successful 1976 season, his first Southern 500 after six wins in the Rebel 500. This would be the 60th time in their careers Pearson and Petty wouldd finish 1–2 in a Winston Cup Grand National race (the duo would finish 1–2 three more times in their careers with Pearson holding a 33–30 edge).[3][4]

Darrell Bryant's vehicle suffered engine problems on lap 3 while David Sisco crashed on lap 13. Rick Newsom had ignition issues on lap 44. Bruce Jacobi's engine failed on lap 59.[3]

A scary accident took place around lap 172 when Skip Manning spun.[3] He spun down the track, right into the path of Frasson who T-boned him. Aside from Manning having his foot trapped in the car until rescuers could get him out, he was relatively ok.[3] Buddy Baker did the same thing on lap 181.[3] Engine failures ended the race on lap 210 for Earle Canavan, lap 213 for Dick May, lap 216 for Gary Myers, lap 238 for Ed Negre, and lap 272 for J.D. McDuffie.[3] Problems with the vehicle's suspension relegated Neil Bonnett to the sidelines on lap 290.[3]

Bruce Hill's engine stopped working on lap 321; making him the final DNF of the race and forcing him to a 22nd-place finish.[3]

This would give Pearson a win in all three "crown jewel" events of 1976; the Daytona 500, the World 600, and this race.[5] Souvenir programs were handed out at the race for only $2 ($8.81 when adjusted for inflation).[6]

There were eight cautions for 65 laps in front of 70000 people. There were 31 lead changes and an average speed of 120.534 miles per hour (193.981 km/h).[3] Forty drivers were on the starting grid; all the drivers were born in the United States.[3] Most of the drivers in the race drove Chevrolet vehicles.[3] There were only three Ford entries and two entries of Mercury automobiles.[3]

The entire purse was $169,700 ($747,200 when adjusted for inflation).[7] Pearson would receive $16,155 ($71,129 when adjusted for inflation) while last-place finisher Darrell Bryant would receive $1,135 of the total winnings ($4,997 when adjusted for inflation).[8]

Notable crew chiefs in the race were Billy Hagan, Junie Donlavey, Jake Elder, Harry Hyde, Dale Inman, Bud Moore, Tim Brewer, and Travis Carter.[9]

QualifyingEdit

Grid[3] No. Driver Manufacturer Owner
1 21 David Pearson Mercury Wood Brothers
2 2 Bobby Allison Mercury Roger Penske
3 15 Buddy Baker Ford Bud Moore
4 88 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet DiGard
5 72 Benny Parsons Chevrolet L.G. DeWitt
6 71 Dave Marcis Dodge Dave Marcis
7 11 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet Junior Johnson
8 43 Richard Petty Dodge Petty Enterprises
9 90 Dick Brooks Ford Junie Donlavey
10 28 Donnie Allison Chevrolet Hoss Ellington

Failed to qualify: Ricky Rudd (#22).[10]

Top ten finishersEdit

Pos[3] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Winnings Laps led Points Time/Status
1 1 21 David Pearson Ford 367 $16,155 93 185 4:09:33
2 8 43 Richard Petty Dodge 367 $18,055 32 175 +2.8 seconds
3 4 88 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 367 $13,135 50 170 Lead lap under green flag
4 6 71 Dave Marcis Dodge 367 $10,800 58 165 Lead lap under green flag
5 14 54 Lennie Pond Chevrolet 365 $8,315 1 160 +2 laps
6 9 90 Dick Brooks Ford 364 $6,935 0 150 +3 laps
7 5 72 Benny Parsons Chevrolet 364 $7,525 3 151 +3 laps
8 11 14 Coo Coo Marlin Chevrolet 356 $5,915 0 142 +11 laps
9 2 2 Bobby Allison Mercury 355 $6,905 28 143 +12 laps
10 22 36 Bobby Wawak Chevrolet 355 $3,245 0 134 +12 laps

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[3] Differential
1   Cale Yarborough 3310 0
2   Richard Petty 3281 -29
3   Benny Parsons 3263 -47
4   Bobby Allison 3125 -185
5   Dave Marcis 2914 -396
6   Lennie Pond 2901 -409
7   Richard Childress 2666 -644
8   Buddy Baker 2650 -660
9   David Pearson 2537 -773
10   Darrell Waltrip 2510 -800

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Weather information for the 1976 Southern 500 at the Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d "Darlington Raceway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o 1976 Southern 500 information at Racing-Reference.info
  4. ^ 1976 SOUTHERN 500 - Checkered flag for the "Silver Fox" at YouTube
  5. ^ 1976 Southern 500 information at HowStuffWorks.com
  6. ^ 1976 Southern 500 collectible souvenir program at EverythingCollectibles.biz. Accessed 2012-02-15. Archived 2012-02-17
  7. ^ 1976 Southern 500 racing information at FantasyRacingCheatSheet.com
  8. ^ 1976 Southern 500 at DriverAverages.com. Accessed 2012-02-15. Archived 2012-02-17.
  9. ^ 1976 Southern 500 crew chiefs information at Racing Reference
  10. ^ Qualifying information at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1976 Volunteer 400
NASCAR Winston Cup Season
1976
Succeeded by
1976 Capital City 400
Preceded by
1975
Southern 500 races
1976
Succeeded by
1977