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.
PRESIDENT: JIMMY CARTER
NO. 1 SONG: “SHADOW DANCING” BY ANDY GIBB
NO. 1 BOX OFFICE: GREASE
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.
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.
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.
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