The 1974 NASCAR Winston Cup Series was the 26th season of professional stock car racing in the United States and the 3rd modern-era NASCAR Cup series. The season began on Sunday January 20 and ended on Sunday November 24. The first 15 races were shortened 10 percent due to the 1973 oil crisis. Following criticism of the 1972 and 1973 points systems that placed emphasis on completed miles, NASCAR implemented a new points system, that took basic purse winnings, multiplied by number of stars, and divided by 1,000; it was designed to more directly reward winning races, a response to Benny Parsons' championship the previous year with just one win. Richard Petty was Winston Cup champion at the end of the season finishing 567.45 points ahead of Cale Yarborough, while David Pearson finished a strong third in points despite only nineteen starts. Earl Ross was named NASCAR Rookie of the Year.
Begun on January 20, the Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway was stopped by rain and resumed on January 26. Cale Yarborough led 144 laps but was closely contested by Bobby Allison, who led 33 laps. Allison faltered and finished a distant fifth, while Cale took the win with Richard Petty second. David Pearson finished third in the final eligible race for the Wood Brothers 1971 Mercury Cyclone; the car had won 19 times with Pearson and A. J. Foyt the previous two seasons.
Bobby Allison grabbed the win, his third with his own team since the start of 1973.
Darlington's spring race shaved 10 percent off its race distance as other races did, but did not lop off the opening 36 laps, it simply scheduled the race as a 450-miler. David Pearson took his third straight Rebel race win (and fifth in all). The race was stopped for half an hour when Lennie Pond smashed a guardrail and several posts were pushed off. Cale Yarborough took the point lead.
Richard Petty debuted a hand-built (by his brother, the team's chief engine builder Maurice) small-block Chrysler engine and won going away. The win put him back into the point lead. Petty stated the small block cost $50,000; "so we're still in the red right now."
Rain pushed the second half of the race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. Richard Petty took his fourth win of the season and retook the point lead over Yarborough. It was Neil Bonnett's first Winston Cup start.
Petty, Pearson, and Yarborough were the only leaders in a race interrupted only three times for yellows. Petty, running the small-block Chrysler engine, led 210 laps but fell out with engine failure while leading with three laps to go. Cale took the win having led 220 laps, while Pearson was second with only 20 laps led.
David Pearson edged Richard Petty as the lead changed 37 times, the most for the race to that point of its history. Buddy Baker left Harry Hyde's Dodge team to drive Bud Moore's Ford after Moore released driver George Follmer. Baker led 94 laps before falling out with engine failure; he was signed to drive the rest of the season in Moore's Ford.
George Follmer was fired from Bud Moore's team before the 600 and jumped into Roger Penske's AMC Matador; he won the pole but blew his engine after just seven laps. Cale Yarborough edged Bobby Allison for the win, his sixth of the season.
This was the last race of the season shortened by NASCAR due to the energy crunch. The lead changed 50 times among eight drivers, a new record for the track to that point. Petty edged rookie Earl Ross after Pearson pitted under a late yellow for tires and the green never flew again.
David Pearson, the winner of the previous two 400s, pulled an audacious fake as he slammed his brakes to put Petty into the lead on the final lap, then drafted past at the stripe; Pearson's maneuver was such that an angered Petty confronted Pearson in the pressbox after the race; the ensuing dialogue was transcribed by the Charlotte Observer and published the next day (July 5, 1974, edition). Some seven seconds behind them Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker hit the stripe nose to nose for an official tie for third. Bobby Allison took over Roger Penske's Matador; he led 50 laps but broke an intake valve late in the race and finished fifth. The lead changed 45 times, a race record that stood until 2010. 
Junior Johnson had purchased his race team from Richard Howard when Carling Breweries joined the #52 of Earl Ross along with Cale Yarborough's #11. In the second race as owner of the team Junior saw Cale dominate but Buddy Baker surged to the lead late. A caution set up a two lap sprint and Cale sideslammed Baker on the final lap for the win. The race saw Neil Bonnett strike the inside pit guardrail, tearing up numerous support posts and requiring a 40-lap caution for repairs.
Controversy marred Nashville's mid-summer event. Following Richard Petty's crash a scoring controversy ensued involving Cale Yarborough and Charlie Glotzbach; Glotzbach was placed a lap down based on scoring, but Cale stayed on the lead lap. Allison finished just behind Yarborough and drove into victory lane ahead of Yarborough, insisting Cale was a lap down. NASCAR later said a scoring mistake had been made but that the Yarborough win would stand.
Originally published in NASCAR's schedule, the annual 300-miler at Trenton Speedway was cancelled and replaced by Pocono's Purolator 500. Richard Petty won the race as rain shortened the race by eight laps. Buddy Baker won the pole; he'd also won the pole in late April in Pocono's USAC stock car 500-miler. It was the inaugural race for NASCAR at Pocono, which has become part of the annual schedule since then.
25 of the event's 50 entries were found sabotaged in the garage area on race morning. NASCAR instituted several competition cautions to allow teams to find previously-undetected sabotage. Buddy Baker fell out after leading 98 laps with rearend failure with three laps to go. Petty sideswiped past Pearson at the stripe ("Pearson tried to cut me off," Petty said; "I'd rather rub fenders with Richard than compete clean with some of the other cats, who are crazy at times," Pearson added); it was Petty's third straight win. Three days before the race A. J. Foyt brought his Coyote Indycar for a speed test; he hit 217 MPH, a closed-course record for the time.
Pearson won for the first time since Daytona in July, beating Petty by some five seconds. The lead changed 45 times as Cale Yarborough led 60 laps but lost contact with the leaders after a late tire change backfired with mismatched tires.
Cale Yarborough took his third win in the race after melees eliminated half the field; Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker were notable crash victims, and rookie Richie Panch was singled out for criticism after being involved in three wrecks. Sophomore Darrell Waltrip took second. NASCAR's 1974 point system, which took purse winnings multiplied by number of starts divided by 1,000, came under fire when Petty wrecked early yet outpointed every car that finished ahead of him except race-winner Yarborough.
Cale Yarborough led 98 of the first 120 laps but the pavement was grinding up and Cale slipped in loose asphalt and crashed. The wreck put Richard Petty into the lead for the remaining 380 laps. Bobby Allison, originally entered in the race, did not race.
Petty led 491 laps and put the entire field three laps down while Yarborough fell out with engine failure.
Petty and Yarborough swept the front row and led 391 laps. Cale led for 275 laps. Petty lost a lap on late pitstops but unlapped himself; he had to settle for second when a late yellow ended the race under caution.
David Pearson made up a lap lost in the first 100 laps of the race and edged Richard Petty, who erased a two-lap deficit despite a pit fire three-quarters into the race; it was the fifth time in the season Pearson and Petty finished together in the top two and Pearson's fourth win in that rivalry. The race was chaotic as a ten-car melee erupted on the third lap and a vicious two-car crash in Turn Four eliminated Grant Adcox and Ramo Stott. The lead changed 47 times, a race record that was tied in 2000, and a track record that lasted until the 1979 World 600, among 11 drivers; it was the sixth race of the season to break 40 official lead changes.
Pearson grabbed his seventh win of 1974, edging Cale by two seconds. The surface at North Carolina Motor Speedway proved hard on tires and pitstops became frequent. Buddy Baker led twelve laps but fell out after only eighteen laps with brake failure.
Originally left off of NASCAR's schedule, the race was added late in the season. Richard Petty led the most laps but fell out late and finished 15th. Bobby Allison took the win in Roger Penske's AMC Matador but was fined $9,100 for unapproved valve lifters in postrace inspection. The race lead changed 38 times officially (a track record for stock cars) while several laps saw up to four lead changes in one circuit.
|January 20 & 26||Winston Western 500||Riverside International Raceway||Cale Yarborough||Untelevised|
|February 17||Daytona 500||Daytona International Speedway||Richard Petty||ABC|
|February 24||Richmond 500||Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway||Bobby Allison||Untelevised|
|March 4||Carolina 500||North Carolina Speedway||Richard Petty|
|March 17||Southeastern 500||Bristol International Speedway||Cale Yarborough|
|March 24||Atlanta 500||Atlanta International Raceway||Cale Yarborough||ABC|
|April 7||Rebel 500||Darlington Raceway||David Pearson||Untelevised|
|April 21||Gwyn Staley 400||North Wilkesboro Speedway||Richard Petty|
|April 28||Virginia 500||Martinsville Speedway||Cale Yarborough|
|May 5||Winston 500||Alabama International Motor Speedway||David Pearson|
|May 11 & 12||Music City USA 420||Nashville Speedway||Richard Petty|
|May 19||Mason-Dixon 500||Dover Downs International Speedway||Cale Yarborough||ABC|
|May 26||World 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway||David Pearson||Untelevised|
|June 9||Tuborg 400||Riverside International Raceway||Cale Yarborough|
|June 16||Motor State 400||Michigan International Speedway||Richard Petty|
|July 4||Firecracker 400||Daytona International Speedway||David Pearson||ABC|
|July 14||Volunteer 500||Bristol International Speedway||Cale Yarborough||Untelevised|
|July 20||Nashville 420||Nashville Speedway||Cale Yarborough|
|July 28||Dixie 500||Atlanta International Raceway||Richard Petty|
|August 4||Purolator 500||Pocono Raceway||Richard Petty|
|August 11||Talladega 500||Alabama International Motor Speedway||Richard Petty||ABC|
|August 25||Champion Spark Plug 400||Michigan International Speedway||David Pearson||Untelevised|
|September 2||Southern 500||Darlington Raceway||Cale Yarborough|
|September 8||Capital City 500||Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway||Richard Petty|
|September 15||Delaware 500||Dover Downs International Speedway||Richard Petty|
|September 22||Wilkes 400||North Wilkesboro Speedway||Cale Yarborough|
|September 29||Old Dominion 500||Martinsville Speedway||Earl Ross|
|October 6||National 500||Charlotte Motor Speedway||David Pearson||ABC|
|October 20||American 500||North Carolina Speedway||David Pearson||Untelevised|
|November 24||Los Angeles Times 500||Ontario Motor Speedway||Bobby Allison|
|12th||J. D. McDuffie||920.850||$59,534||0|
|20th||Tony Bettenhausen Jr.||601.695||$38,994||0|
|22nd||Coo Coo Marlin||581.670||$41,944||0|
|44th||A. J. Foyt||41.220||$17,110||0|