1979 Southeastern 500

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1979 Southeastern 500
Race details
Race 7 of 31 in the 1979 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season

Date April 1, 1979 (1979-April-01)
Location Bristol International Speedway (Bristol, Tennessee)
Course Permanent racing facility
0.533 mi (0.857 km)
Distance 500 laps, 266.5 mi (428.8 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching a maximum of 71.1 °F (21.7 °C); wind speeds approaching 7 miles per hour (11 km/h)[1]
Average speed 91.033 miles per hour (146.503 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Buddy Baker Ranier Racing
Most laps led
Driver Dale Earnhardt Osterlund Motorsports
Laps 163
No. 2
Dale Earnhardt
Osterlund Motorsports
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

The 1979 Southeastern 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on April 1, 1979, at Bristol Motor Speedway in the American community of Bristol, Tennessee.[2]


Five hundred laps were completed on a paved oval track spanning 0.533 miles (0.858 km) in only two hours and fifty-five minutes.[2] Six cautions were given out by NASCAR for 44 laps.[2] Twenty-six thousand people attended this live event to see Dale Earnhardt defeat Bobby Allison by a time of three seconds.[2][3] Jake Elder was Earnhardt's crew chief at that time; his nickname was "Suitcase" because he would help a NASCAR driver achieve glory and then leave him for another driver the following season. The notable speeds were: 91.033 miles per hour (146.503 km/h) for the average speed[4] and 111.668 miles per hour (179.712 km/h) for the pole position speed achieved by Buddy Baker.[2]

The other top ten finishers were: Darrell Waltrip (who would lose the race lead to Earnhardt with only 27 laps to go[5]), Richard Petty, Benny Parsons, Donnie Allison, Terry Labonte, Joe Millikan, James Hylton, and Ricky Rudd.[2] Chevrolet vehicles made up the majority of the 30-car racing grid.[2] Corporate sponsors for the drivers included: Gatorade, STP, Hawaiian Tropic, and Shoney's.[2] This race would be notable for starting the Earnhardt family's legacy of winning; leading up to Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s most recent victory at the 2014 Gobowling.com 400. Millikan would catch something in his eye and would have to report to hospital; J.D. McDuffie ended up being the substitute driver for him.

Many souvenirs were cheap back then with a Richard Petty hat costing $5 USD ($16.25 when adjusted for inflation) and a ticket to the race costing $16 USD ($51.99 when adjusted for inflation). The winner of the race would receive a purse of $19,800 ($64,338.65 when adjusted for inflation).[6] Ralph Jones (a driver-owner) was the last-place finisher of this race; he was forced to end his participation in the race due to brake issues on lap 31.[2]


  1. ^ "Weather at the 1979 Southeastern 500 race". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "1979 Southeastern 500 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  3. ^ "Dale Earnhardt's 1st Win Statistics". Decades of Racing. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  4. ^ "Average Speed (1979 Southeastern 500)". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  5. ^ "The Earnhardt-Waltrip Fiasco". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  6. ^ "Dale Earnhardt's First Victory Purse". Hardcore Fans. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
Preceded by
1979 Northwestern Bank 400
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1979 CRC Chemicals Rebel 500