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The 1978 American 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) race that took place on October 22, 1978, at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina. Four hundred and ninety-two laps were done on a paved oval track spanning 1.017 miles (1.637 km).[3] Forty-six thousand people would attend the race live to see 36 cars (and only 19 of them finish the race).[3][2] Other notable drivers included: Darrell Waltrip (who went on to be a NASCAR announcer for FOX), Benny Parsons, Richard Petty, Richard Childress, and J.D. McDuffie (who would die at Watkins Glen during a racing event in the 1991 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season).[3][2]

1978 American 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 28 of 30 in the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
This is a program from the 1978 running of the American 500.
This is a program from the 1978 running of the American 500.
Date October 22, 1978 (1978-October-22)
Official name American 500
Location North Carolina Motor Speedway, Rockingham, North Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.017 mi (1.636 km)
Distance 492 laps, 500.4 mi (804.2 km)
Weather Warm with temperatures of 80.1 °F (26.7 °C) with wind speeds reaching of 8 miles per hour (13 km/h)
Average speed 117.288 miles per hour (188.757 km/h)
Attendance 46,000[3]
Pole position
Driver Junior Johnson & Associates
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates
Laps 376
No. 11 Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

North Carolina Motor Speedway was affectionally referred to at the time as The Action Track; delivering lots of action from motorcycle racing to stock car events. The Baby Grand 125 was an ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) companion race that took place the previous day. People could buy the official program during both races at a relatively low price of $3 USD ($11.52 when adjusted for inflation).

Race reportEdit

Cale Yarborough won the race's pole position and would eventually go onto leading 376 laps of the 492 that were actually done.[3][2] Bobby Allison lost to Yarborough by more than two laps.[3] Cale Yarborough automatically clinched his third straight NASCAR Winston Cup championship as a result of winning this race.

As a result of recent rule changes brought about by the implementation of an organized NASCAR playoffs system in the 21st century; this situation is no longer possible under the current NASCAR regime. Bobby Wawak drove Richard Childress Backup car in this race.

The racing entries were mostly made of Chevrolet vehicles with very few Ford and Dodge entries.[3][2] Four hours, fifteen minutes, and fifty-eight seconds was the duration of the entire race.[3] The first green flag was waved at noon while the checkered flag was waved at approximately 4:15 P.M.. Engine problems were dominant in the race with only Bill Hollar actually quitting the race for "personal reasons."[3][2] Donnie Allison would become ill after leading 12 laps and would drop out of the race;[3][2] no relief driver was ever found. Five cautions slowed the race for 52 laps and Baxter Price (in his Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna) was the lowest driver to actually finish the race.[3]

Joe Frasson would finish his NASCAR Cup Series career by participating in this race and finishing in 23rd place after starting in 25th place (improving his position by two places).[3][2] Charlie Blanton and Johnny Halford would also retire from NASCAR after this race.[4] Frasson drove the race using a self-owned #18 vehicle with a 1978 Buick Century as his manufacturer and model.[3] The number would be transferred over to a Chevrolet machine when it was transferred to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in the 1992 Daytona 500 and remains with JGR to the present day. The number in question would ultimately become synonymous with Kyle Busch's Toyota Camry starting in 2008. Top prize at this race would be $23,360 in American dollars ($89,733.39 when adjusted for inflation).[3]


Grid[3] No. Driver Manufacturer
1 11 Cale Yarborough Oldsmobile
2 1 Donnie Allison Chevrolet
3 88 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet
4 15 Bobby Allison Ford
5 54 Lennie Pond Chevrolet
6 22 Ricky Rudd Chevrolet
7 27 Buddy Baker Chevrolet
8 90 Dick Brooks Ford
9 5 Neil Bonnett Chevrolet
10 2 Dave Marcis Chevrolet
11 43 Richard Petty Chevrolet
12 72 Benny Parsons Chevrolet
13 48 James Hylton Chevrolet
14 92 Dick May Chevrolet
15 8 Ed Negre Dodge

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference:[3]

  1. Cale Yarborough (No. 11)
  2. Bobby Allison (No. 15)
  3. Darrell Waltrip (No. 88)
  4. Benny Parsons† (No. 72)
  5. Dick Brooks† (No. 90)
  6. Richard Petty (No. 43)
  7. Lennie Pond (No. 54)
  8. Dave Marcis (No. 2)
  9. Buddy Arrington (No. 67)
  10. Richard Childress (No. 3)
  11. Dick May† (No. 92)
  12. J.D. McDuffie† (No. 70)
  13. Jimmy Means (No. 52)
  14. James Hylton† (No. 48)
  15. Cecil Gordon† (No. 24)
  16. Frank Warren (No. 79)
  17. Gary Myers (No. 4)
  18. Tommy Gale† (No. 64)
  19. Baxter Price (No. 45)
  20. Donnie Allison* (No. 1)
  21. Tighe Scott* (No. 30)
  22. Buddy Baker*† (No. 27)
  23. Joe Frasson*† (No. 18)
  24. David Pearson* (No. 21)
  25. Ricky Rudd* (No. 22)
  26. Roger Hamby* (No. 17)
  27. Bobby Wawak*† (No. 31)
  28. Junior Miller* (No. 95)
  29. Elmo Langley*† (No. 19)
  30. Johnny Halford* (No. 87)
  31. Neil Bonnett*† (No. 5)
  32. Charlie Blanton* (No. 59)
  33. Ronnie Thomas* (No. 25)
  34. Ferrel Harris*† (No. 81)
  35. Ed Negre* (No. 8)
  36. Bill Hollar*† (No. 28)

† Driver is known to be deceased
* Driver failed to finish race

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[3] Differential
1   Cale Yarborough 4519 0
2   Darrell Waltrip 4123 -396
3   Dave Marcis 4083 -436
4   Benny Parsons 4043 -476
5   Bobby Allison 4027 -492
6   Richard Petty 3708 -811
7   Lennie Pond 3593 -926
8   Dick Brooks 3504 -1015
9   Buddy Arrington 3453 -1066
10   Richard Childress 3363 -1156


  1. ^ "1978 American 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "1978 American 500 information". Driver Averages. Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "1978 American 500 information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  4. ^ "1978 American 500 retirement information". Race Database. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
Preceded by
1978 NAPA National 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1978 Dixie 500
Preceded by
American 500 races
Succeeded by