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The 1978 Talladega 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on August 6, 1978, at Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega, Alabama.

1978 Talladega 500
Race details[1]
Race 19 of 30 in the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Official poster for the 1978 Talladega 500
Official poster for the 1978 Talladega 500
Date August 6, 1978 (1978-August-06)
Official name Talladega 500
Location Alabama International Motor Speedway, Talladega, Alabama
Course Permanent racing facility
2.660 mi (4.280 km)
Distance 188 laps, 500.1 mi (804.8 km)
Weather Hot with temperatures of 88.9 °F (31.6 °C); wind speeds of 6.6 miles per hour (10.6 km/h)
Average speed 174.7 miles per hour (281.2 km/h)
Attendance 60,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Junior Johnson & Associates
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates
Laps 79
No. 54 Lennie Pond Ranier Racing
Television in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Ken Squier
Lee Petty



Talladega Superspeedway, originally known as Alabama International Motor Superspeedway (AIMS), is a motorsports complex located north of Talladega, Alabama. It is located on the former Anniston Air Force Base in the small city of Lincoln. The track is a Tri-oval and was constructed by International Speedway Corporation, a business controlled by the France Family, in the 1960s. Talladega is most known for its steep banking and the unique location of the start/finish line - located just past the exit to pit road. The track currently hosts the NASCAR series such as the Sprint Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. Talladega Superspeedway is the longest NASCAR oval with a length of 2.66 miles (4.28 km), and the track at its peak had a seating capacity of 175,000 spectators.[3]


Four cautions were waved for seventeen laps; making the race last almost three hours in length,[2] 67 lead changes the race.[2] James Hylton finished last due to a transmission issue on the first lap of this 188-lap race.[2] Lennie Pond became the third driver whose only career victory was at the summer Talladega race (Richard Brickhouse in 1969 and Dick Brooks in 1973).[2] He would defeat Donnie Allison by two car lengths in front of 60,000 spectators.[2][4] Yarborough lost half a lap near the end of the race, losing the leaders because he missed the pit entry and made his stop on lap 181.[2]

Because he would get fired at the end of 1978, Waddell Wilson kept changing the setup on the car without telling Lennie. He would end up sleeping in his car so that Waddell wouldn't be able to change the setup on his vehicle without him knowing about it. Pond still got fired from Ranier's team in the end; making Ranier an owner/driver again because Darrell Waltrip's contract with DiGard Motorsports was too strong to be broken with negotiations.

There was one foreigner in the 41-car lineup: Claude Ballot-Léna from Paris, France.[2] Cale Yarborough would earn the pole position with a speed of 192.717 miles per hour (310.148 km/h) while the average speed of the race was 174.7 miles per hour (281.2 km/h).[2] It was a 500 mile world's record in 1978.[5] Bill Elliott would break that record at the 1985 Winston 500 with an average of 186.288 miles per hour (299.801 km/h).[6] Female driver Janet Guthrie was also a part of the grid; finishing in 29th place due to a crash on lap 129.[2] Country music star and part-time NASCAR driver Marty Robbins would finish in 18th place in his 1978 Dodge Magnum.[7]

Richard Petty would stop racing in Chrysler cars after this race. Only the 1984 Winston 500 would see more lead changes than this event.


Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Speed[8] Qualifying time[8] Owner
1 11 Cale Yarborough Oldsmobile 192.917 49.638 Junior Johnson
2 72 Benny Parsons Oldsmobile 192.104 49.848 L.G. DeWitt
3 21 David Pearson Mercury 192.027 49.868 Wood Brothers
4 27 Buddy Baker Oldsmobile 191.570 49.987 M.C. Anderson
5 54 Lennie Pond Oldsmobile 191.023 50.130 Harry Ranier
6 43 Richard Petty Dodge 190.177 50.353 Petty Enterprises
7 22 Ricky Rudd Chevrolet 189.823 50.447 Al Rudd
8 14 Coo Coo Marlin Chevrolet 189.070 50.648 H.B. Cunningham
9 1 Donnie Allison Oldsmobile 188.969 50.675 Hoss Ellington
10 92 Skip Manning Buick 188.939 50.683 Billy Hagan

Finishing orderEdit


Section reference: [2]

  • Start: Cale Yarborough was leading the starting grid as the cars were approaching the start/finish line
  • Lap 9: Blackie Wangerin had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Lap 22: Ricky Rudd had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Lap 46: Skip Manning had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Lap 48: Claude Ballot-Lena had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Lap 94: Roger Hamby's vehicle had a clutch that went bad which caused him to exit the race
  • Lap 96: The axle on Bruce Hill's vehicle became unsafe for further racing
  • Lap 105: Darrell Waltrip had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Lap 118: Jimmy Means had a terminal crash
  • Lap 124: Al Holbert had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Lap 129: Janet Guthrie had a terminal crash
  • Lap 149: Buddy Baker had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Lap 158: Coo Coo Marlin had some engine issues that forced him out of the event
  • Finish: Lennie Pond was officially declared the winner of the event

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Cale Yarborough 2982 0
2   Dave Marcis 2824 -158
3   Benny Parsons 2801 -181
4   Bobby Allison 2579 -403
5   Darrell Waltrip 2568 -414
6   Richard Petty 2515 -467
7   Lennie Pond 2391 -591
8   Buddy Arrington 2328 -654
9   Richard Childress 2278 -704
10   Dick Brooks 2245 -737


  1. ^ 1978 Talladega 500 weather information at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1978 Talladega 500 at Racing Reference
  3. ^ "Track Facts". Talladega Superspeedway. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  4. ^ 1978 Talladega 500 racing information at Race Database
  5. ^ Profile of Lenny Pond at Decades of Racing
  6. ^ Bill Elliott's Record Breaking Run at Racing Reference
  7. ^ Finishing position of Marty Robbins at
  8. ^ a b Qualifying information at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1978 Coca-Cola 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1978 Champion Spark Plug 400
Preceded by
Talladega 500 races
Succeeded by