1979 Southern 500

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1979 Southern 500
Race details
Race 23 of 31 in the 1979 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Darlington Raceway
Darlington Raceway
Date September 3, 1979; 35 years ago (1979-09-03)
Location Darlington Raceway (Darlington, South Carolina)
Course Permanent racing facility
1.366 mi (2.198 km)
Distance 367 laps, 501.3 mi (806.7 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching a maximum of 88.9 °F (31.6 °C); with wind speeds up to 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)[1]
Average speed 126.259 miles per hour (203.194 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Bobby Allison Bud Moore Engineering
Most laps led
Driver Darrell Waltrip DiGard Motorsports
Laps 165
No. 88
David Pearson
Osterlund Motorsports
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Keith Jackson
Chris Economaki

The 1979 Southern 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) race that took place on September 3, 1979, at Darlington Raceway in the American community of Darlington, South Carolina.[2][3]

By the following season, 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.


Three hundred and sixty seven laps were done on a paved oval track spanning 1.366 miles (2.198 km) for a grand total of 501.3 miles (806.8 km).[2] The total time of the race as three hours, fifty-eight minutes, and fourteen seconds. Speeds were: 126.259 miles per hour (203.194 km/h) for the average and 154.88 miles per hour (249.26 km/h) for the pole position speed.[2] There were nine cautions for fifty-two laps.[2] David Pearson (using crew chief Jake Elder) defeated Bill Elliott by two laps and four seconds.[2][3][4] He would race for an injured Dale Earnhardt.[5] Sixty thousand people came to watch this live event.[2] Other famous drivers at the event include Darrell Waltrip, Richard Childress, Richard Petty, Terry Labonte, and Ricky Rudd.[2][3][4]

Darrell Waltrip's mistake in this race would later cause him to lose the 1979 championship to Richard Petty (which would eventually become his last Cup Series championship ever). Notable sponors included: Shoney's, Gatorade, the U.S. Army, Kings Inn, Hawaiian Tropic, Purolator, and Busch.[2][3][4] The top prize of the race was $29,925 ($97,239.1 when considering inflation).[2][3][4]

The participants of this race were all American-born males.[2] Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.

Finishing order[edit]

  1. David Pearson
  2. Bill Elliott (his first career finish in the top five)
  3. Terry Labonte
  4. Buddy Baker
  5. Benny Parsons
  6. Dave Marcis
  7. Dick Brooks
  8. Ricky Rudd
  9. Richard Petty
  10. Bobby Allison (highest finishing Ford vehicle)
  11. Darrell Waltrip
  12. Harry Gant
  13. D. K. Ulrich
  14. Buddy Arrington (highest finishing Dodge vehicle)
  15. Joe Millikan
  16. Jimmy Means
  17. Chuck Bown
  18. J. D. McDuffie
  19. Cale Yarborough
  20. Ed Negre (his final Cup Series race)
  21. Tommy Gale
  22. Frank Warren
  23. Baxter Price
  24. Ronnie Thomas
  25. Lennie Pond
  26. Cecil Gordon
  27. H. B. Bailey* (highest finishing Pontiac vehicle)
  28. Jim Vandiver
  29. Richard Childress*
  30. Jack Ingram*
  31. Donnie Allison*
  32. Neil Bonnett*
  33. Billy Smith*
  34. Dick May*
  35. Tighe Scott*
  36. Coo Coo Marlin*
  37. Ralph Jones*
  38. James Hylton*
  39. Earle Canavan*
  40. Ferrel Harris*

* Driver failed to finish race

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points[2]
1 Darrell Waltrip 3672
2 Richard Petty 3510
3 Bobby Allison 3332
4 Cale Yarborough 3324
5 Benny Parsons 3152
Preceded by
1979 Volunteer 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1979 Capital City 400
Preceded by
Southern 500 races
Succeeded by


  1. ^ "1979 Southern 500 weather information". The Old Farmer's Almanac. Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "1979 Southern 500 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "1979 Southern 500 racing results (third reference)". Driver Averages. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d "1979 Southern 500 racing results (second reference)". Everything Stock Car. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  5. ^ "David Pearson taking over for injured Earnhardt". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2011-02-23.