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.

Hutcherson wins No. 2, Jarrett r-up in loaner

Thursday, June 3, 1965 – Dick Hutcherson collected his second career win and second of the season when he took the checkered flag in the Music City 200 at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway. The Keokuk, Iowa native finished a lap ahead of Ned Jarrett and J.T. Putney in his No. 29 Holman-Moody Ford.

His first full NASCAR premier series season saw Hutcherson win nine times and finish second in points to Jarrett.

Hutcherson competed in just four races the previous year before running full-time two of three seasons. He was ruled ineligible for Rookie of the Year, however, because he had previously competed for a sanctioning body other than NASCAR. 

Jarrett scored the runner-up finish at Nashville in spite of having to borrow a car to compete. His No. 11 Ford had been destroyed the night before in a crash while en route to the track. Jarret drove a car owned by independent Jabe Thomas.

The race was the first at the speedway to be run under the lights.

Hutcherson retired after the 1967 season and oversaw the Holman-Moody operation that carried David Pearson to championships in 1968-69.

He eventually co-founded the Hutcherson-Pagan organization along with former racer Eddie Pagan. The highly successful company built and repaired race cars and chassis.

Hutcherson twice competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1966 with Ronnie Bucknum and again in ’76 with co-drivers Dick Brooks and Marcel Migiot.

Waltrip not perfect, but close

Saturday, May 8, 1982 – Darrell Waltrip led 419 of 420 laps to easily win the Cracker Barrel Country Store 420 at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway. The NASCAR premier series victory was the fifth in the season’s first 10 races for Waltrip and the No. 11 Junior Johnson-owned organization.

Harry Gant led the only lap Waltrip didn’t, taking the point when Waltrip hit pit road on lap 117. It was the 44th career victory for Waltrip, who crossed the finish line a full lap ahead of runner-up Terry Labonte.

Waltrip won the race from the pole, taking the top spot earlier in the day after qualifying on Friday was postponed due to rain.

Among his 84 career Cup victories, the CB 420 was the closest Waltrip ever came to leading every lap. It isn’t surprising that it came at Nashville, the Franklin, Tenn., driver’s “home” track. In 1979, he led 409 of 420 laps en route to a win there. And when the series returned later that summer in ’82, Waltrip led 400 of 420 laps on his way to another victory.

Engines go quiet in Music City

Monday, March 11, 1985 – NASCAR officials confirmed today that the racing organization would not sanction events at Nashville (Tenn.) Raceway due to financial troubles surrounding the .596-mile track. The move reduced the number of points races for the premier series from 30 to 28 for the season and brought an end to a 27-year run of NASCAR competition at the facility.

The financial troubles stemmed from the bankruptcy filings of track owner Warner Hodgdon, who owned Nashville Raceway and Bristol International Raceway at that time. Four days after the announcement, Hodgdon reclaimed the lease during an open foreclosure auction for $260,000. However, NASCAR officials reiterated their earlier decision not to sanction the two previously scheduled premier series events. The last Cup event held at the track, in July of ’84, was won by Geoff Bodine.

The track did eventually host eight NASCAR XFINITY and five Camping World Series events following the financial troubles. But those were no longer scheduled beyond the 2000 season.