The 1978 season is also statistically noteworthy. Danny Ongais won the most races (5), and Al Unser swept the triple crown races, but it was Tom Sneva (who did not win a single race) who won the championship title. Sneva had six 2nd place finishes, and twelve top 5's, and experienced more consistent finishes. Sneva became the second driver to win the USAC championship without winning a race during the season, the last being Tony Bettenhausen in 1958. Sneva's "winless" championship was not without its critics, however, a statistician calculated points results using contemporary scales of other racing series, and concluded that Sneva would have still won the title in nearly every scenario.
The 1978 season was also a break-out year for future champion Rick Mears. Mario Andretti was running the full Formula One season (of which he would be World Champion). Andretti was running a partial Indy car schedule Penske Racing, and Roger Penske hired the young Mears to fill in for Andretti the weekends he was overseas. Mears, who had spent two years in lesser-funded rides, jumped at the opportunity to drive for Penske, even though it was only a part-time ride. Mears won Co-Rookie of the Year at Indy, won three races, and despite running only 11 of 18 races, finished 9th in points.