Final pole for Northeast standout

Friday, July 15, 1983 – Ron Bouchard, twice a pole winner on the sprawling 2-mile layout of Michigan International Speedway, scored the first short-track pole of his career when he zoomed to the No. 1 qualifying spot for the Busch Nashville 420 at Nashville (Tenn.) International Raceway. A native of Fitchburg, Mass., Bouchard edged short-track ace Darrell Waltrip for the top spot. “I told the guys to get me close enough to the front so I could see the green flag at the start of the race,” Bouchard told reporters.

The Nashville pole was the last of Bouchard’s career. He went on to finish 27th in the race, falling out after 147 laps when his engine expired.

Bouchard competed in NASCAR’s premier series from 1981 through 1987. The majority of his 160 starts came with team owner Jack Beebe, another New England native, in the No. 47 Race Hill Farm Buick. He also drove for owners Mike Curb and Hoss Ellington.

The 1981 series rookie of the year, Bouchard is best known among NASCAR fans for his lone victory, winning the 1981 Talladega 500 with a last-lap pass of Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte. Bouchard later credited fellow driver Buddy Baker with explaining to him how to wait before making such a pass at Talladega because of the location of the finish line, which is much close to Turn 1.

NASCAR officials announced a rule update at Nashville – eliminating the new rule requiring the area between the hood of the car and windshield be sealed. The rule had been in place at Daytona earlier that month but did not significantly impact the competition as had been hoped.

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