| Southern 500|
| September 4, 1978 (1978-September-04)|
Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Permanent racing facility
1.375 mi (2.212 km)
367 laps, 500.5 mi (805.4 km)
Hot with temperatures reaching up to 88 °F (31 °C); wind speeds up to 8.9 miles per hour (14.3 km/h)
The 1978 Southern 500, the 29th running of the event, was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on September 4, 1978, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.
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. Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.
1978 Southern 500 Wikipedia
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. 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. The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees. Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.
There were forty American-born competitors who competed in this 367-lap race. A crowd of 65000 racing fans would cheer them on for four hours and seventeen minutes. NASCAR officials would signal nine cautions for an outstanding 72 laps; 21 changes for the first-place position were made. There were moments when the race leader remained unchanged for a long period of time; including Cale Yarborough's 69-lap lead which lasted from lap 118 to lap 186 and his late-race streak where he would take over the lead on lap 261 and would never relinquish it for the remainder of the event.
Cale Yarborough would defeat future NASCAR on Fox personality Darrell Waltrip by three seconds while Richard Petty, rookie driver Terry Labonte, and Bobby Allison would round out the top five finishers. Yarborough's win would become the fourth ever at the Southern 500. He would also retain the lead in championship points right after this race. Bruce Hill would finish in last place on lap 80 due to a problem with his vehicle's rear end. David Pearson would get the pole position with a top speed of 153.685 miles per hour (247.332 km/h). D. K. Ulrich would bring nitrous oxide into his racing vehicle and lost the rest of the 1978 Winston Cup Series season. Neil Bonnett had the most unfortunate incident by hitting the telephone wires while exiting pit road; nobody was injured.
The total prize purse of the race was $200,170 ($735,011.98 when considering inflation); Yarborough received $30,175 of it for winning the race in first-place ($110,800.75 when considering inflation).