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1978:

Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison prove they were the top contenders

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Hat Trick for Cale

Drivers Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison proved they were the top championship contenders during the 1978 NASCAR Cup Series campaign, winning a combined 15 of 29 races throughout the season.

With back-to-back championship efforts behind him at the start of 1978, Cale Yarborough was poised to become the first driver in NASCAR’s then 29-year history to win three consecutive Cup Series titles.

The Timmonsville, South Carolina, resident was in his sixth season with team owner Junior Johnson and had built a strong, winning relationship with the team from Ingle Hollow, North Carolina.

Fellow drivers had a difficult time keeping Yarborough out of Victory Lane, as he won 10 times on short tracks, road courses and superspeedways. His closest rival, 1978 Daytona 500 winner Bobby Allison, only scored half as many victories before finishing second in the point standings. Allison, driving a Ford owned by Bud Moore, logged 14 top-five finishes but couldn’t find the consistency to go head- to-head with Yarborough.

Yarborough’s biggest triumph of the season came on Sept. 4 in the prestigious Southern 500 at his home track, Darlington Raceway. It was his fourth of five-career victories in the Labor Day classic at the legendary egg-shaped South Carolina track. Darrel Waltrip won six times for DiGard Racing but failed to finish nine races. David Pearson and Wood Brothers Racing found the win column only four times, while Richard Petty went winless with a newly designed Dodge Magnum that he eventually parked and fielded Chevrolets for the first time in his career.

Yarborough held the record for consecutive championships until seven-time Cup Series titlist Jimmie Johnson logged his fourth championship in a row with Hendrick Motorsports in 2009.

1978

PRESIDENT: JIMMY CARTER

NO. 1 SONG: “SHADOW DANCING” BY ANDY GIBB

NO. 1 BOX OFFICE: GREASE

BEST DRIVER

CALE YARBOROUGH, DRIVING JUNIOR Johnson’s potent Chevrolet, logged 10 victories and secured his third consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. His consistent 23 top-five finishes throughout the 30-race season paved the way for an incredible season of success. Yarborough’s talent, coupled with cars provided by crew chief Tim Brewer and the No. 11 crew, meant only needing to start the season finale at California’s Ontario Motor Speedway to earn the title.

BEST RACE

AT THE 2.66-MILE TALLADEGA Superspeedway in Alabama, Lennie Pond drove car owner Harry Ranier’s No. 54 Oldsmobile to the surprise victory of the season. A crowd of 60,000 strong enjoyed 67 lead changes among eight drivers. Pond, of Ettrick, Virginia, was ahead of second-place Donnie Allison by a mere two car lengths as they crossed under the checkered flag. Pond led a total of 22 laps in the 188-lap event, including the final four.

TOP CARS

CALE YARBORough’s No. 11 Chevrolet Monte Carlo owned by Junior Johnson won 10 Cup Series races and claimed the 1978 championship. Darrell Waltrip’s No. 88 DiGard Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo topped six premier series races and finished third in the point standings.

SEASON RECAP

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Jan. 22 | Riverside International Raceway | Cale Yarborough

Feb.19 | Daytona International Speedway | Bobby Allison

Feb. 26 | Richmond Raceway | Benny Parsons

March 5 | Rockingham Speedway | David Pearson

March 19 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Bobby Allison

April 2 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Darrell Waltrip

April 9 | Darlington Raceway | Benny Parsons

April 16 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Darrell Waltrip

April 23 | Martinsville Speedway | Darrell Waltrip

May 14 | Talladega Superspeedway | Cale Yarborough

May 21 | Dover International Speedway | David Pearson

May 28 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Darrell Waltrip

June 3 | Fairgrounds Speedway – Nashville | Cale Yarborough

June 11 | Riverside International Raceway | Benny Parsons

June 18 | Michigan International Speedway | Cale Yarborough

July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | David Pearson

July 15 | Fairgrounds Speedway – Nashville | Cale Yarborough

July 30 | Pocono Raceway | Darrell Waltrip

Aug. 6 | Talladega Superspeedway | Lennie Pond

Aug. 20 | Michigan International Speedway | David Pearson

Aug. 26 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Cale Yarborough

Sept. 4 | Darlington Raceway | Cale Yarborough

Sept. 10 | Richmond Raceway | Darrell Waltrip

Sept. 17 | Dover International Speedway | Bobby Allison

Sept. 24 | Martinsville Speedway | Cale Yarborough

Oct. 1 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Cale Yarborough

Oct. 8 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Bobby Allison

Oct. 22 | Rockingham Speedway | Cale Yarborough

Nov. 5 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Donnie Allison

Nov. 19 | Ontario Motor Speedway | Bobby Allison

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