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1979 Southern 500

Coordinates: 34°17′50.5″N 79°54′18.4″W / 34.297361°N 79.905111°W / 34.297361; -79.905111

The 1979 Southern 500, the 30th running of the event, was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) race that took place on September 3, 1979, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.

1979 Southern 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 23 of 31 in the 1979 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Date September 3, 1979 (1979-September-03)
Official name Southern 500
Location Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.366 mi (2.198 km)
Distance 367 laps, 501.3 mi (806.7 km)
Weather Hot with temperatures reaching a maximum of 88.9 °F (31.6 °C); with wind speeds up to 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)
Average speed 126.259 miles per hour (203.194 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Bud Moore Engineering
Most laps led
Driver Darrell Waltrip DiGard Motorsports
Laps 165
Winner
No. 88 David Pearson Osterlund Motorsports
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Keith Jackson
Chris Economaki

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR Tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.

The track is a four-turn 1.366 miles (2.198 km) oval.[3] The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees.[3] The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees.[3] Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.[3]

SummaryEdit

Three hundred and sixty seven laps were done on a paved oval track spanning 1.366 miles (2.198 km) for a grand total of 501.3 miles (806.8 km).[2] The total time of the race as three hours, fifty-eight minutes, and fourteen seconds. Speeds were: 126.259 miles per hour (203.194 km/h) for the average and 154.88 miles per hour (249.26 km/h) for the pole position speed.[2] There were nine cautions for fifty-two laps.[2] David Pearson, who was in semi-retirement and had left the Wood Brothers after a disastrous pit stop at the Rebel 500 earlier that year, was driving for Rod Osterlund in his last race for the team as a substitute for rookie contender Dale Earnhardt, injured at the Pocono race, defeated Bill Elliott by two laps and four seconds.[2][4][5] He would race for an injured Dale Earnhardt.[6] Sixty thousand people came to watch this live event.[2] Other famous drivers at the event include Darrell Waltrip, Richard Childress, Richard Petty, Terry Labonte, and Ricky Rudd.[2][4][5]

Darrell Waltrip had controlled the race until his late-race incidents that dropped him to 11th, which ended his shot at sweeping the track's two races. This race would be a microcosm of his own career at Darlington; despite two Rebel 500 wins (1977 and 1979, and two further wins in 1981 and 1984), Waltrip's inability to win the Southern 500 in the fall would haunt him during his career (he never took the checkered flag first in the Southern 500; his 1992 win came when NASCAR waved the red flag, and the cars were parked at the end of pit lane with 69 laps remaining). Those late race incidents in this race would later cause him to lose the 1979 championship to Richard Petty.[4][5] The top prize of the race was $29,925 ($98,748.38 when considering inflation).[2][4][5]

The participants of this race were all American-born males.[2] Ed Negre would make his final appearance here while Billy Smith would make his only professional stock car appearance.[7] Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.

QualifyingEdit

Grid No. Driver Manufacturer
1 15 Bobby Allison Ford
2 1 Donnie Allison Chevrolet
3 88 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet
4 43 Richard Petty Chevrolet
5 2 David Pearson Chevrolet
6 17 Bill Elliott Mercury
7 47 Harry Gant Chevrolet
8 05 Dick Brooks Chevrolet
9 21 Neil Bonnett Mercury
10 28 Buddy Baker Chevrolet

Withdrew from race: Jan Opperman (#96)[8]

Finishing orderEdit

  1. David Pearson
  2. Bill Elliott (his first career finish in the top five)
  3. Terry Labonte
  4. Buddy Baker
  5. Benny Parsons
  6. Dave Marcis
  7. Dick Brooks
  8. Ricky Rudd
  9. Richard Petty
  10. Bobby Allison (highest finishing Ford vehicle)
  11. Darrell Waltrip
  12. Harry Gant
  13. D. K. Ulrich
  14. Buddy Arrington (highest finishing Dodge vehicle)
  15. Joe Millikan
  16. Jimmy Means
  17. Chuck Bown
  18. J. D. McDuffie
  19. Cale Yarborough
  20. Ed Negre(his final Cup Series race)
  21. Tommy Gale
  22. Frank Warren
  23. Baxter Price
  24. Ronnie Thomas
  25. Lennie Pond
  26. Cecil Gordon
  27. H. B. Bailey*† (highest finishing Pontiac vehicle)
  28. Jim Vandiver
  29. Richard Childress*
  30. Jack Ingram*
  31. Donnie Allison*
  32. Neil Bonnett*†
  33. Billy Smith*
  34. Dick May*†
  35. Tighe Scott*
  36. Coo Coo Marlin*†
  37. Ralph Jones*
  38. James Hylton*
  39. Earle Canavan*
  40. Ferrel Harris*†

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

TimelineEdit

  • Start of race: Donnie Allison had the pole position to begin the event
  • Lap 2: Ferrel Harris was black-flagged out of the race and into a last-place finish
  • Lap 17: An oil leak in Earle Canavan's vehicle managed to ruin his day on the track
  • Lap 27: Bobby Allison took over the lead from Donnie Allison
  • Lap 46: James Hylton's vehicle developed engine problems
  • Lap 56: Caution due to Harry Gant and Joe Millikan's accident; racing resumed on lap 62
  • Lap 63: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Bobby Allison
  • Lap 69: Caution due to Bobby Allison's accident; racing resumed on lap 72
  • Lap 83: Caution due to two cars spinning into each other; racing resumed on lap 88
  • Lap 84: Donnie Allison took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 90: Caution due to a vehicle spinning out of control; racing resumed on lap 92
  • Lap 112: Coo Coo Marlin had engine problems which ending his hopes of winning the event
  • Lap 116: Caution due to a vehicle spinning out of control; racing resumed on lap 121
  • Lap 117: Bobby Allison took over the lead from Donnie Allison
  • Lap 118: Bill Elliott took over the lead from Bobby Allison
  • Lap 122: Donnie Allison took over the lead from Bill Elliott
  • Lap 133: Tighe Scott had a terminal crash; forcing him to leave the race prematurely
  • Lap 138: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Donnie Allison
  • Lap 142: Caution due to two cars spinning into each other; racing resumed on lap 149
  • Lap 143: Donnie Allison took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 148: Dick May had a terminal crash; forcing him to exit the race
  • Lap 150: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Donnie Allison
  • Lap 160: Caution due to a vehicle spinning out of control; racing resumed on lap 165
  • Lap 161: Buddy Baker took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 162: Bill Elliott took over the lead from Buddy Baker
  • Lap 164: Darrell Waltrip took over the Bill Elliott
  • Lap 166: Neil Bonnett took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 168: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Neil Bonnett
  • Lap 179: Driveshaft issues managed to force Billy Smith out of the race
  • Lap 185: Steering issues managed to get the best of Neil Bonnett
  • Lap 196: Donnie Allison's engine would stop working properly; causing his early exit from the race
  • Lap 206: Jack Ingram's vehicle developed engine problems
  • Lap 224: Richard Childress' engine problem forced his early exit from the race
  • Lap 231: David Pearson took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 235: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 244: H.B. Bailey managed to overheat his vehicle; securing an unwanted early exit from the event
  • Lap 296: Caution due to Darrell Waltrip's accident; racing resumed on lap 303
  • Lap 298: David Pearson took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip and would dominate the remainder of the race
  • Lap 306: Caution due to a vehicle spinning out of control; racing resumed on lap 309
  • Finish: David Pearson was officially declared the winner of the event

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Darrell Waltrip 3672 0
2   Richard Petty 3510 -162
3   Bobby Allison 3332 -340
4   Cale Yarborough 3324 -348
5   Benny Parsons 3152 -520
6   Joe Millikan 2987 -685
7   Richard Childress 2730 -942
8   J.D. McDuffie 2704 -968
9   Buddy Arrington 2657 -1015
10   Terry Labonte 2652 -1020
Preceded by
1979 Volunteer 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1979
Succeeded by
1979 Capital City 400
Preceded by
1978
Southern 500 races
1979
Succeeded by
1980

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1979 Southern 500 weather information". The Old Farmer's Almanac. Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "1979 Southern 500 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Darlington Raceway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d "1979 Southern 500 racing results (third reference)". Driver Averages. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  5. ^ a b c d "1979 Southern 500 racing results (second reference)". Everything Stock Car. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  6. ^ "David Pearson taking over for injured Earnhardt". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  7. ^ Additional race information at Race Database
  8. ^ "1979 Southern 500 qualifying results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2017-07-23.