The 1979 Gabriel 400 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) race that took place on June 17, 1979, at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

1979 Gabriel 400
Race details[1][2]
Race 16 of 31 in the 1979 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Roger Hamby's vehicle (driven by Steve Pfeiffer) crashes while racing at the 1979 Gabriel 400.
Roger Hamby's vehicle (driven by Steve Pfeiffer) crashes while racing at the 1979 Gabriel 400.
Date June 17, 1979 (1979-June-17)
Official name Gabriel 400
Location Michigan International Speedway (Brooklyn, Michigan, USA)
Course Permanent racing facility
2.000 mi (3.218 km)
Distance 200 laps, 400 mi (643 km)
Weather Hot with temperatures of 90.9 °F (32.7 °C); wind speeds of 15 miles per hour (24 km/h)
Average speed 135.798 miles per hour (218.546 km/h)
Attendance 62,000[3]
Pole position
Driver Wood Brothers Racing
Most laps led
Driver Buddy Baker Ranier Racing
Laps 121
No. 28 Buddy Baker Ranier Racing
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Al Michaels
Jackie Stewart


Michigan International Speedway is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2 miles (3.2 km) long.[4] Opened in 1968, the track's turns are banked at eighteen degrees, while the 3,600-foot-long front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at twelve degrees.[4] The back stretch, has a five degree banking and is 2,242 feet long.[4]

Race reportEdit

Two hundred laps were done on a paved oval track spanning 2.000 miles (3.219 km).[3][2] The total time of the race was two hours, fifty-six minutes, and forty-four seconds.[3][2] There were six cautions for thirty-three laps with the race finishing under caution.[3][2] Speeds were: 135.798 miles per hour (218.546 km/h) as the average and 162.371 miles per hour (261.311 km/h) as the pole position speed.[3][2]

Sixty-two thousand fans managed to see Buddy Baker defeat Donnie Allison under caution.[3][2] The race was also Bill Seifert's final start in addition to being Bill Elliott's 33rd start in the NASCAR Cup Series; Elliott would lead the first lap of his NASCAR Cup Series career during this event. Other famous drivers like Darrell Waltrip (who retained the championship points lead after this race[3] but lost it at the 1979 running of the Los Angeles Times 500 by 11 points[5]), Richard Childress (now the owner of Richard Childress Racing), Benny Parsons, and Terry Labonte have participated in this race.[3]

This was Marty Robbins' last race in his signature #42.[3] He would switch to using a variety of different numbers from here on out, normally the #6. He changed numbers to free up the #42 for young Kyle Petty to use it, reviving his family's use of the digit his grandfather Lee Petty had made so famous.

Engine problems took out Bill Seifert on lap 32 in addition to Marty Robbins on lap 64 and Bill Green on lap 76. Problems with the vehicle's shocks eliminated Tommy Gale from the race on lap 84. Lap 97 would be very unkind to Paul Fess and Benny Parsons; whose vehicles would suffer from faulty engines. Joe Millikan would notice that his vehicle's engine stopped working on lap 103 while Roger Hamby would inflict terminal vehicle damage on lap 122. Further engine problems knocked David Sosebee out of the race on lap 135 and Ronnie Thomas on lap 150. Dave Marcis would inflict terminal vehicle damage on lap 173. Bob Burcham noticed that his vehicle's engine stopped working on lap 184. Frank Warren inflicted terminal vehicle damage on lap 186 while Darrell Waltrip had to leave the race due to a faulty engine on lap 197.[3]

While substituting for Roger Hamby during the middle of this racing event, Steve Pfieffer lost control of his car during a caution period and injured a couple of spectators on the pit wall while attempting to stop his vehicle for maintenance. He would be later sent to Foote West Hospital in nearby Jackson; where the doctors gave him a good prognosis and eventually released him with cuts on his right knee and chest.[6]

The lead changed 47 times among 11 drivers.[2] Dale Earnhardt was criticized by Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty when he nearly spun out trying to pass Neil Bonnett late in the race in front of both ("He nearly took us all out in the third turn," Waltrip said after the race).

Notable crew chiefs to actively participate in the race were Buddy Parrott, Tex Powell, Joey Arrington, Kirk Shelmerdine, Darrell Bryant, Dale Innman, Harry Hyde, Bud Moore, Tim Brewer, and Jake Elder.[7] The total winnings of this race were $148,505 ($523,137.97 when adjusted for inflation). Buddy Baker earned $16,780 in cash prizes for his win ($59,110.84 when adjusted for inflation) while Bill Seifert walked away only $960 wealthier ($3,381.79 when adjusted for inflation).[8]


Grid[3] No. Driver Manufacturer Owner
1 21 Neil Bonnett Mercury Wood Brothers
2 1 Donnie Allison Chevrolet Hoss Ellington
3 28 Buddy Baker Chevrolet Harry Ranier
4 72 Joe Millikan Chevrolet L.G. DeWitt
5 11 Cale Yarborough Oldsmobile Junior Johnson
6 15 Bobby Allison Ford Bud Moore
7 44 Terry Labonte Chevrolet Billy Hagan
8 90 Ricky Rudd Mercury Junie Donlavey
9 88 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet DiGard Racing
10 43 Richard Petty Chevrolet Petty Enterprises
11 9 Bill Elliott Mercury George Elliott
12 30 Tighe Scott Buick Walter Ballard
13 2 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Rod Osterlund
14 49 Bill Green Chevrolet Charles Dean
15 71 Dave Marcis Chevrolet Dave Marcis

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference: [3]

  1. Buddy Baker† (#28)
  2. Donnie Allison (#1)
  3. Cale Yarborough (#11)
  4. Neil Bonnett† (#21)
  5. Richard Petty (#43)
  6. Dale Earnhardt† (#2)
  7. Bobby Allison (#15)
  8. Ricky Rudd (#90)
  9. Tighe Scott (#30)
  10. Dick Brooks† (#05)
  11. Lennie Pond (#12)
  12. Bill Elliott (#9)
  13. Darrell Waltrip* (#88)
  14. J.D. McDuffie† (#70)
  15. Buddy Arrington (#67)
  16. Jimmy Means (#52)
  17. Harry Gant (#47)
  18. John Kennedy (#0)
  19. Sandy Satullo, II (#38)
  20. James Hylton† (#48)
  21. D.K. Ulrich (#40)
  22. Frank Warren* (#79)
  23. Richard Childress (#3)
  24. Bob Burcham*† (#19)
  25. Terry Labonte (#44)
  26. Dave Marcis* (#71)
  27. Ronnie Thomas* (#25)
  28. David Sosebee* (#81)
  29. Roger Hamby* (#17)
  30. Joe Milikan* (#72)
  31. Benny Parsons*† (#27)
  32. Paul Fess* (#82)
  33. Tommy Gale*† (#62)
  34. Bill Green* (#49)
  35. Marty Robbins*† (#42)
  36. Bill Seifert* (#09)

† signifies that the driver is known to be deceased
* Driver failed to finish race

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[3]
1   Darrell Waltrip 2555
2   Bobby Allison 2514
3   Cale Yarborough 2397
4   Richard Petty 2362
5   Dale Earnhardt 2172
6   Joe Millikan 2079
7   Benny Parsons 2069
8   Terry Labonte 1933
9   Richard Childress 1931
10   J.D. McDuffie 1897


  1. ^ "1979 Gabriel 400 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "1979 Gabriel 400 racing results (third reference)". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "1979 Gabriel 400 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2010-11-20.
  4. ^ a b c "Michigan International Speedway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  5. ^ "Darrell Waltrip's Lost Championship Hopes". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  6. ^ "Baker Garners Gabriel 400". Google News Archive (The Hour). Retrieved 2012-09-18.
  7. ^ "1979 Gabriel 400 crew chiefs information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  8. ^ "1979 Gabriel 400 racing results (second reference)". Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
Preceded by
1979 NAPA Riverside 400
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1979 Firecracker 400