1978 World 600
|Race 12 of 30 in the 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
Map of Charlotte Motor Speedway
|Date||May 28, 1978|
|Location||Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, North Carolina)|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
1.500 mi (2.414 km)
|Distance||400 laps, 600 mi (965 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures reaching up to 84.9 °F (29.4 °C); wind speeds up to 8 miles per hour (13 km/h)|
|Average speed||138.355 miles per hour (222.661 km/h)|
|Driver||David Pearson||Wood Brothers Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Darrell Waltrip||DiGard Motorsports|
|Television in the United States|
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.
Zsa Zsa Gabor served as the celebrity grand marshal; sharing time in the spotlight with NASCAR team owner Robert Yates and Buddy Parrott. There were 40 drivers on the starting grid; all of them were born in the United States of America. A live audience of 125,000 enthusiastic NASCAR fans would see a total of 43 changes in the first-place position along with 32 laps under a caution flag. The entire race from green flag to checkered flag lasted for four hours and twenty minutes.
During the first 100 laps of this 400-lap extravaganza, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, and Donnie Allison were fighting it out for the lead. The final laps would become a constant battle between Donnie Allison, Darrell Waltrip, and Benny Parsons for the first-place finish. Waltrip would eventually defeat Donnie Allison by a time of two seconds on a stopwatch in his 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo vehicle. Joining him on victory lane would be his wife Stevie. As a couple, they embraced each other to the admiring fans; who were unaware that Darrell Waltrip would become a championship performer during the 1980s. Jerry Jolly would acquire the last-place finish in the race due to problems with his suspension on lap 20. The lowest driver to actually finish the race was D.K. Ulrich.
After the race, Cale Yarborough would only be 30 points behind Benny Parsons in the overall championship standings. The number of points for Dale Earnhardt and Ron Hutcherson were never recorded into the NASCAR data banks for future storage. The entire prize purse for this race was $310,491 ($1,122,678.43 when adjusted for inflation); Waltrip received a then-incredible amount of $48,608 to take home to his family ($175,757.6 when adjusted for inflation) while Jerry Jolly had to take home a meager $1,090 ($3,941.24 when adjusted for inflation). Roland Wlodyka would end his professional driving career with the NASCAR Cup Series after the end of this racing event.
Willy T. Ribbs was expected to be at this NASCAR Cup Series event being one of the greatest African-American race car drivers of all time. After failing to appear at two special practice sessions, he was sacked and replaced with then-obscure driver Dale Earnhardt; who back then specialized in short track racing and was not yet a serious championship contender. A lot of traditionalists chided the opportunities that Ribbs received; getting into the higher levels of NASCAR simply because he was black.
28 years later, the breakout success of former Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya would become just as controversial to traditional NASCAR fans as Ribbs' antics that occurred around the 1978 World 600. He was basically promoted from the Busch Series in 2006 in time to compete at the 2006 Ford 400 simply because he was Hispanic and born outside of the United States. Montoya's maiden venture into the highest level of professional stock car racing would end after getting in contact with Indiana-born Ryan Newman and crashing his Dodge Avenger on lap 251 of the race; finishing the race in 34th place and his car in flames. With his first top-ten finish at the 2007 Kobalt Tools 500, Montoya would take the skills that he would learn on foreign road courses and apply them to the mostly oval tracks of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. His experience in Formula One racing, however, didn't transfer over into the final races of the NASCAR Cup Series season; where he developed a reputation for finishing poorly.
On September 16, 2013, it was announced that for the 2014 racing season Montoya would compete in the IndyCar Series, ending the 7-year-long racial controversy that has affected the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. American-born driver Kyle Larson took over the #42 machine for the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series season. In the 2014 Daytona 500, Larson was spun in turn 4 from contact with Austin Dillon; causing major damage to several more cars including Marcos Ambrose, Kasey Kahne, Michael Annett, Jamie McMurray, Brian Scott, and Casey Mears.
- Darrell Waltrip
- Donnie Allison
- Bobby Allison
- Cale Yarborough
- David Pearson
- Benny Parsons
- Buddy Baker
- Richard Petty
- Sterling Marlin
- Bruce Hill
- Grant Adcox
- Morgan Shepherd
- Dick May
- Bill Elliott
- Buddy Arrington
- John Utsman
- Dale Earnhardt
- Gary Myers
- Dick Brooks
- Richard Childress
- Roland Wlodyka
- J.D. McDuffie
- Frank Warren
- Tommy Gale
- Baxter Price
- Skip Manning
- Jim Vandiver*
- Ricky Rudd
- D.K. Ulrich
- Ronnie Thomas*
- Tighe Scott*
- Dave Marcis*
- Lennie Pond*
- Connie Saylor*
- Neil Bonnett*
- Harry Gant*
- Jimmy Means*
- Al Holbert*
- Ron Hutcherson*
- Jerry Jolly*
* Driver failed to finish race
- Weather information for the 1978 World 600 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
- 1978 World 600 racing information at Racing Reference
- 1978 World 600 racing information at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
- 1978 World 600 racing information at Race Database
- The Decision That Would Change the 1978 World 600 at How Stuff Works
- Racing While Black at Google Books
- Juan Pablo's Maiden Cup Series Race at Race Database
- Juan Pablo Montoya's first top-ten finish at Jayski
- Utter, Jim (2009-10-24). "Juan Pablo Montoya hit with racial slur?". www.thatsracin.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- Fryer, Jenna (September 16, 2013). "Juan Pablo Montoya to drive for Team Penske". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- Ryan, Nate (August 30, 2013). "Chip Ganassi on Kyle Larson: 'The kid's ready'". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
1978 Mason-Dixon 500
|NASCAR Winston Cup Season
1978 Music City USA 420
|World 600 races