The 1978 NASCAR Grand National Winston Cup Series season began on Sunday, January 22 and ended on Sunday, November 19. Cale Yarborough driving the Junior Johnson #11 First National City Travelers Checks Oldsmobile won his then record third consecutive NASCAR Grand National Series Winston Cup Championship. Ronnie Thomas was crowned NASCAR Rookie of the Year in a tight battle with Roger Hamby.
Season recap 
Notable Races 
- Winston Western 500 - NASCAR banned the Chevrolet Laguna S3 racecar but also allowed Chevrolet engines to be used in other General Motors brands; as a result teams were fielding Monte Carlos, Chevrolet Malibus, Buick Regals, and Oldsmobile Cutlasses. The Oldsmobile brand reached its first win since 1959 as Cale Yarborough drove Junior Johnson's Olds to the win. Bobby Allison, making his debut in Bud Moore's Ford, fell out after 40 laps, while Richard Petty finished 16th after rearend failure; Petty was driving the 1974 Dodge Charger for the final time as the car's Winston Cup Grand National eligibility ended after this race.
- Daytona 125s - The two qualifying races for the Daytona 500 were the first superspeedway test of the new 1977-78 model racecars now eligible for NASCAR competition. Preseason testing had exposed serious stability issues with the cars, particularly the Olds Cutlass with its shorter rear deck and open rear side windows; Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison were pointed in their concerns about the instability of the Olds; Richard Petty was similarly critical of the Dodge Magnum he now was fielding. Cale won the pole for the 500 while Ron Hutcherson timed second. In the 125s the lead changed a combined 25 times. Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker crashed out of the first 125 while A.J. Foyt drove a superspeedway Buick to win it. Darrell Waltrip drove a Monte Carlo, edging Richard Petty's Magnum in the second.
- Daytona 500 - Richard Petty led 26 laps in his 125, and his Magnum was pronounced the fastest car in Daytona by Waltrip after the Twins. Petty raced to the lead with Waltrip and David Pearson drafting him. By Lap 61 they had put all but Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker a lap down, but in Turn Four Petty blew a tire and all three hit the wall, then slid into the inside wall. Following the restart Benny Parsons spun out after blowing a tire while A.J. Foyt was drop-kicked by Lennie Pond and tumbled through the infield grass; he was cut from the car and hospitalized. Allison took the lead with ten to go and Buddy Baker blew his engine, leaving Allison uncontested for his first Cup win since 1975.
- Carolina 500 - Pearson reached a NASCAR milestone with his 100th Grand National win, running down Benny Parsons on a frigid raceday.
- Atlanta 500 - NASCAR mandated larger spoiler sizes to combat the instability of the new racecars beginning with the Atlanta 500. Bobby Allison led 261 laps and put the entire field a lap down en route to the win. Darrell Waltrip blew his engine after 146 laps then publicly called out his pit crew; "Every time I pitted, I fell further behind."
- Rebel 500 - Benny Parsons grabbed his second win of the season, leading 83 laps after his team had to change engines before the race. "This one was a stick of dynamite," Parsons said of the new engine.
- Winston 500 - Rain delayed the Winston 500 from May 7 to Mother's Day May 14 - and also pushed back the scheduled Music City 420 at Nashville as well. The Talladega race saw 44 official lead changes as Cale Yarborough battled Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty, and others; Benny Parsons and Dick Brooks stormed to the lead on the opening lap and Parsons led it, but fell out with clutch failure 121 laps in. Petty battled for the lead but on a late caution (for Lennie Pond's spin) his transmission acted up, and he lost five laps getting it fixed (he finished 11th). Yarborough drafted past Buddy Baker on the final lap for only his second win of the year.
- Music City 420 - Yarborough stormed past pole-sitter Lennie Pond and led all 420 laps, putting the entire field two laps or more down. It was the last wire-to-wire win in a Cup race until 2000. Cale also took the point lead from Benny Parsons.
- Gabriel 400 - Cale's domination of the season continued as he made up a lap on the race's only yellow (at Lap 108) and led the last 59 laps to an easy win. "Surely he must have a big engine," Pearson said after the race, while Glen Wood said, "He's made up some laps in mysterious fashion."
Final Points Standings 
- Cale Yarborough – 4841
- Bobby Allison – 4367
- Darrell Waltrip – 4362
- Benny Parsons – 4350
- Dave Marcis – 4335
- Richard Petty – 3949
- Lennie Pond – 3794
- Dick Brooks – 3769
- Buddy Arrington – 3626
- Richard Childress – 3566
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