1978 Old Dominion 500

The 1978 Old Dominion 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race that took place on September 24, 1978, at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. This race was the 28th to be held as a part of what is now known as the First Data 500.

1978 Old Dominion 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 25 of 30 in the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
A map showing the layout of Martinsville Speedway
A map showing the layout of Martinsville Speedway
Date September 24, 1978 (1978-September-24)
Official name Old Dominion 500
Location Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Virginia
Course Permanent racing facility
0.525 mi (0.844 km)
Distance 500 laps, 262.5 mi (442.4 km)
Weather Mild with temperatures of 70 °F (21 °C); wind speeds of 8 miles per hour (13 km/h)
Average speed 79.185 miles per hour (127.436 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Ranier Racing
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates
Laps 372
No. 11 Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

By 1980, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power anymore.


Martinsville Speedway is one of five short tracks to hold NASCAR races.[3] The standard track at Martinsville Speedway is a four-turn short track oval that is 0.526 miles (0.847 km) long.[4] The track's turns are banked at eleven degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at zero degrees. The back stretch also has a zero degree banking.[4]

Race reportEdit

Five hundred laps were done on a paved oval track spanning 0.525 miles (0.845 km) for a grand total of 262.5 miles (422.5 km).[2] The complete time of the race was three hours, nineteen minutes, and fifty-four seconds.[2] There were four cautions given out by the NASCAR officials for nineteen laps.[2] Cale Yarborough defeated Darrell Waltrip by three car lengths; taking home his sixth and final Cup victory at Martinsville. Yarborough was on a tear here in the second half of the 1970s, this win marked his fourth win over the course of the prior five Martinsville races.[2] Notable speeds recorded in both the qualifying session and the race were: 79.185 miles per hour (127.436 km/h) as the average speed and 86.558 miles per hour (139.302 km/h) as the pole position speed.[2] Twenty thousand people attended this live race.[2]

Chevrolet vehicles would dominate the starting grid of the event with multi-car teams dominating the lineup.[5] By the late 1970s, it had become prohibitively expensive for a single person to own a NASCAR team. A series of oil crises in addition to changing sponsorship needs started to bring in the age of the multi-car team and the slow decline of the independent owners.

Harry Gant would lead a NASCAR Cup Series race for the first time in his career. However, he would only run ninety laps before having to leave the race due to an engine problem. Terry Labonte's third career start nets him his third career top-10 finish.[2] Though running up front for half the laps one completes is generally a good thing, Gant's 45 laps led translate in this case to 90 laps run before the engine expired.[2] This would cause him to be relegated to a 28th-place finish and only $1,070 in prize winnings ($4,194 when considering inflation).[2]

Total winnings for this race were $101,430 ($397,595 when considering inflation) and Cale Yarborough took the majority of the winnings with an easy $24,950 paycheck ($97,801 when considering inflation).

Satch Worley would retire from NASCAR after this race while Lennie Pond would never earn another pole position start after this race.[6] Herb Nab was Pond's chief mechanic for the sole qualifying run that managed to get him the pole position for the event along with an extremely rare silver trophy.[7]

Other crew chiefs who fully participated in the race were Darrell Bryant, Junie Donlavey, Buddy Parrott, Jake Elder, Kirk Shelmerdine, Dale Inman, Walter Ballard, Tim Brewer, and Bud Moore.[8]


Grid[2] No. Driver Manufacturer Owner
1 54 Lennie Pond Chevrolet Harry Ranier
2 43 Richard Petty Chevrolet Petty Enterprises
3 88 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet DiGard Racing
4 72 Benny Parsons Chevrolet L.G. DeWitt
5 27 Buddy Baker Chevrolet M.C. Anderson
6 11 Cale Yarborough Oldsmobile Junior Johnson
7 5 Neil Bennett Chevrolet Rod Osterlund
8 21 David Pearson Mercury Wood Brothers
9 15 Bobby Allison Ford Bud Moore
10 12 Harry Gant Chevrolet Kennie Childers

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference:[2]

* Driver failed to finish race
† Driver is deceased


Section reference:[2]

  • Start of race: Lennie Pond had the pole position to begin the race
  • Lap 20: Cecil Gordon had to be brought out of the race because his brakes weren't working
  • Lap 42: Tighe Scott had a terminal crash; forcing him to exit the race
  • Lap 46: Harry Gant took over the lead from Lennie Pond
  • Lap 90: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Harry Gant
  • Lap 111: Tommy Gale's engine couldn't go on any longer and gave out in the middle of the race
  • Lap 247: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 270: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 329: Buddy Baker's engine stopped working properly
  • Lap 340: The rear end of David Pearson's vehicle fell out, making it too dangerous for him to continue racing
  • Lap 354: Roger Hamby had serious issues with his brakes that required him to exit the event
  • Lap 403: Jimmy Means managed to overheat his vehicle while racing
  • Lap 409: J.D. McDuffie's terribly performing brakes forced him into the sidelines
  • Lap 453: Ferrell Harris had a faulty engine that forced him out of the race
  • Lap 473: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 488: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Finish: Cale Yarborough was officially declared the winner of the event

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Cale Yarborough 4052 0
2   Benny Parsons 3644 -408
3   Dave Marcis 3624 -428
4   Darrell Waltrip 3598 -454
5   Bobby Allison 3507 -545
6   Richard Petty 3306 -746
7   Lennie Pond 3146 -906
8   Dick Brooks 3072 -980
9   Buddy Arrington 3070 -982
10   Richard Childress 2970 -1082


  1. ^ "1978 Old Dominion 500 weather information". The Old Farmer's Almanac. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "1978 Old Dominion 500 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  3. ^ "NASCAR Race Tracks". NASCAR. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "NASCAR Tracks—The Martinsville Speedway". Martinsville Speedway. Retrieved October 26, 2012.
  5. ^ "1978 Old Dominion 500 manufacturer/team information". Driver Averages. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  6. ^ "1978 Old Dominion 500 racing results (third reference)". Race Database. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  7. ^ "All About Crew Chief Herbert "Herb" Nab". Legends of NASCAR. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  8. ^ "1978 Old Dominion 500 crew chiefs information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
Preceded by
1978 Delaware 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1978 Wilkes 400
Preceded by
Old Dominion 500 races
Succeeded by