MRN Flashback: 1979 Gabriel 400

Buddy baker

Baker stands in Victory Lane after winning the Gabriel 400 at Michigan in 1979. (Photo: ISC Archives)


With the NASCAR season at its halfway point in June 1979, Buddy Baker led a one-two Chevrolet sweep at Michigan International Speedway by winning the Gabriel 400.

Baker started third and led a race-high 121 laps in his No. 28 Harry Ranier-owned entry – including the final 19 trips around the two-mile Irish Hills oval. The race ended under caution after Darrell Waltrip’s blown engine brought out the final yellow flag of the afternoon.

Donnie Allison finished second and Cale Yarborough was third. Pole sitter Neil Bonnett placed fourth with Richard Petty completing the top five. Rookie Dale Earnhardt, who finished sixth, drew criticism for rough driving from a number of competitors after the race.

“I like the kid,” Waltrip said of the future Hall of Famer. “But he overdrives his car. He almost took us all out in the fourth turn with five laps to go.”

Baker’s win was the second of three he posted in 1979. He did not run the full schedule but still managed to finish 15th in the final point standings. Yarborough wound up fourth in his bid for a fourth straight title – 226 points behind Petty, the champion.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway this week for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

Visit on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1979 Gabriel 400 from Michigan International Speedway, anchored by Barney Hall and Jack Arute. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – features a classic race each week on “Throwback Thursday” only at

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