Dale Earnhardt Jr to Pay Tribute to 1981 Talladega Winner Ron Bouchard

Published 10/04/2021, 3:32 AM EDT
May 8, 2021; Darlington, SC, USA; Former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. poses for a picture with the restored 1984 Chevy Nova driven by his father the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. on pit road prior to the Steakhouse Elite 200 at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


Back in 1981, Ron Bouchard took his first and only Cup Series win at the Talladega Superspeedway. In all honesty, this win came as a shock to many, as it was his debut season. Now, Dale Earnhardt Jr is going to pay tribute to the late driver by driving his #47 car in a ceremonial lap.

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That year, Bouchard was battling with Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte for the race win. On the final lap, Waltrip led from Labonte and Bouchard, and they were close together. Labonte jinked to the outside of Waltrip, while Bouchard dove down the inside. From there, the trio crossed the finish line almost in tandem, making it a photo finish.

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In the end, replays showed that Ron Bouchard had just nosed ahead, with Waltrip narrowly edging out Labonte. Since that lone visit to Victory Lane, Bouchard racked up 19 Top 5s, 60 Top 10s, and three poles. All of this came in the span of 160 Cup races between 1981 and 1987, with a best finish of eighth in the 1982 championship.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr is paying tribute to the late driver

Now, soon-to-be NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr has been handed a golden opportunity. Before the race gets underway, the former NASCAR driver will drive Bouchard’s iconic #47 car for a demo lap, 40 years after Ron Bouchard won the race.

Apr 25, 2021; Talladega, Alabama, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) leads during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

On an interesting note, this is the second time this season that Dale Earnhardt Jr is performing a ceremonial lap. The first time he did it was back at the Darlington Raceway. Around that time, he got a chance to pilot his late father‘s 1984 Chevrolet Nova ahead of that weekend’s Xfinity Series race. Needless to say, it was a momentous occasion and truly a sight to see.

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Dhruv George

12103 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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