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The 1978 Daytona 500, the 20th running of the event, was the second race of the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup season. It was held on February 19 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Defending winner Cale Yarborough won the pole and Bobby Allison won the race.

1978 Daytona 500
Race details
Race 2 of 30 in the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Track map of Daytona International Speedway.
Track map of Daytona International Speedway.
Date February 19, 1978 (1978-02-19)
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 Mild with temperatures of 73.9 °F (23.3 °C); wind speeds of 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)[1]
Average speed 159.73 miles per hour (257.06 km/h)
Attendance 140,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Junior Johnson & Associates
Qualifying race winners
Duel 1 Winner A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises
Duel 2 Winner Darrell Waltrip DiGard Motorsports
Most laps led
Driver Buddy Baker M.C. Anderson Racing
Laps 76
No. 15 Bobby Allison Bud Moore Engineering
Television in the United States
Network ABC's WWOS
Announcers Jim McKay and Jackie Stewart
Nielsen Ratings 11.8/33
(20.9.1 million viewers)

Race reportEdit

The race began with Richard Petty, who brought a brand new Dodge Magnum to the race, leading early.[2] Starting in sixth place, Petty quickly went out in front and led 32 out of the first 60 laps, all under green. The first 60 laps were run at an average speed of nearly 180 mph.[2] But on the lap 61, Petty cut a left rear tire and spun out, collecting long-time rival David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip.[2]

Track conditions were very "green" that day, due to heavy rains during the week. Just after the restart on lap 70, Parsons blew a left rear tire and spun out. Behind him, 1972 race winner A. J. Foyt was caught up and flipped several times in the turn 1 infield. That left the race to three drivers, 1977 race winner and polesitter Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker and Bobby Allison, who entered the race with a 67-race winless streak. Yarborough dropped out with engine problems. With 11 laps remaining, Baker, dueling with Allison, suffered an engine failure. Allison drove his Bud Moore Ford Thunderbird around Baker to take the lead and capture his first Daytona 500 win.[2]

It was the lowest starting position (33rd) that a driver had won the event, until 2007 when Kevin Harvick started one spot further back than Allison.[2] 1978 would be final year for the AMC Matador with Jocko Maggiacomo's entry.[3] First Daytona 500 starts for Bill Elliott, Blackie Wangerin, Morgan Shepherd, and Harry Gant.[3] Only Daytona 500 starts for Roger Hamby, Roland Wlodyka, Jerry Jolly, Claude Ballot-Léna, and Al Holbert.[3] Last Daytona 500 starts for Ron Hutcherson, Ferrel Harris, Skip Manning, Dick May, Jimmy Lee Capps, and Joe Mihalic.[3]

Denver racer Jerry Jolly made his NASCAR Winston Cup debut and finished 20th, his best in the series. This would be the only one of his five Winston Cup starts where he was running at the finish.[3] This was done in spite of a cut tire on the 92nd lap that started a four-car incident that also involved the cars of Cecil Gordon, Jimmy Lee Capps, and Tighe Scott.[3] All four were running at the finish of a race that had a remarkably low amount of attrition for a race of that era.[3] Only 14 of the 41 cars that started failed to make it to the finish, with a high percentage of those who failed to make it to the finish being some of the sport's top drivers.[3]

Last Daytona 500 until the 2019 Daytona 500 without an Earnhardt in the field.[3]

Notable crew chiefs who participated in this race included Darrell Bryant, Junie Donlavey, Jake Elder, Joey Arrington, Herb Nab, Dale Inman, Bud Moore and Harry Hyde.[4]

Top ten finishersEdit

Pos[3] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Laps led Points Time/Status
1 33 15 Bobby Allison Ford 200 28 180 3:07:49
2 1 11 Cale Yarborough Oldsmobile 200 43 175 +33.2 seconds
3 8 72 Benny Parsons Oldsmobile 199 2 170 +1 lap
4 2 53 Dick Hutcherson Buick 199 0 160 +1 lap
5 32 90 Dick Brooks Mercury 198 0 155 +2 laps
6 10 2 Dave Marcis Chevrolet 198 0 150 +2 laps
7 31 27 Buddy Baker Oldsmobile 196 76 156 Engine failure
8 9 9 Bill Elliott Mercury 195 0 142 +5 laps
9 23 6 Ferrell Harris Dodge 195 0 138 +5 laps
10 28 54 Lennie Pond Oldsmobile 195 0 134 +5 laps


  1. ^ "Weather of the 1978 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e f NASCAR.COM – Daytona Countdown: '78 – Jan 21, 2005
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "1978 Daytona 500 race information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  4. ^ 1978 Daytona 500 crew chiefs at Racing Reference