Girish Mahajan

1977 Old Dominion 500

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Official name  Old Dominion 500
1977 Old Dominion 500
Date  September 25, 1977 (1977-September-25)
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  Average temperature of 76.2 °F (24.6 °C); wind speeds of 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)

The 1977 Old Dominion 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) racing event that took place on September 25, 1977, at the historic Martinsville Speedway; a race track that has enjoyed the presence of NASCAR since its first sanctioned race on July 4, 1948.

Contents

Cup Series races are still held on the track today in addition to the Xfinity Series (started in 1982) and Camping World Truck Series (started in 1995). Since the track was repaved back in 1976, the one-year-old concrete surface allowed cars to travel at relatively fast speeds for a short track during the 1970s. All of the race car drivers on the 30-car grid were American-born males; no women or foreigners actually qualified for the race.

Background

Martinsville Speedway is one of five short tracks to hold NASCAR races. The standard track at Martinsville Speedway is a four-turn short track oval that is 0.526 miles (0.847 km) long. 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.

Summary

It took three hours and thirty-four minutes for the race to completely progress from the first green flag to the checkered flag. Had the race been held on this day in the year 2010, temperatures would have reached 93.0 °F (33.9 °C) - an increase of 16.8 degrees Fahrenheit from the temperatures of 1977. Five hundred laps on a paved oval track spanning 0.252 miles (0.406 km) per lap was the official distance of the race dictated by NASCAR. A grand total of 262.5 miles (422.5 km) was calculated from all the laps of the race. Thirteen lead changes were made as a part of the racing action.

Despite popular knowledge shared by non-NASCAR fans, the "500" number that was in the event's title indicated the number of laps that were in the race; as opposed to the number of kilometers or miles that the drivers had to finish. All Martinsville races traditionally advertised the number of laps that a race had because it is a very short track. Cale Yarborough managed to defeat Benny Parsons by 8/10ths of a second in front of 33000 live spectators; nine cautions were given out during the event for 57 laps. Neil Bonnett would qualify for the pole position with a speed of 87.637 miles per hour (141.038 km/h) - which would be the equivalent of 87.637 seconds. However, Yarborough would average a speed of 73.447 miles per hour (118.201 km/h) during the entire race.

He would retain his championship hopes after this race; being 219 points ahead of Richard Petty in the 1977 NASCAR Cup Series standings. The other top ten finishers were: David Pearson, Richard Petty, Sam Sommers, Jimmy Hensley, Buddy Arrington, James Hylton, Jimmy Means, and Darrell Waltrip. Baxter Price would become the event's last-place finisher with an oil leak on the fourth lap of the race. Chevrolet vehicles would make up the majority of the grid with Ford, Dodge, Mercury, and Matador holding a sizeable minority of the vehicles that would compete in this event.

Technological concerns

Improvements in tire and engine technology in the early 1970s had made NASCAR Cup Series vehicles overpowered compared to the limited space that Martinsville Speedway had for breathing space. Further technological advancements by 2013 have caused further concern for driver safety at Martinsville; indicating that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series may have to use restrictor plates in Martinsville if tire/engine technology keeps its current pace of development.

Timeline

  • Start of race: Darrell Waltrip had the pole position as the green flag was waved
  • Lap 37: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 40: Benny Parsons took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 96: David Pearson took over the lead from Benny Parsons
  • Lap 97: Bobby Allison took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 101: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Bobby Allison
  • Lap 179: Benny Parsons took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 181: David Pearson took over the lead from Benny Parsons
  • Lap 206: Bobby Allison took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 351: Benny Parsons took over the lead from Bobby Allison
  • Lap 366: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Benny Parsons
  • Lap 387: David Pearson took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 396: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Finish: Cale Yarborough was officially declared the winner of the event
  • References

    1977 Old Dominion 500 Wikipedia


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