Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a Ceremonial Lap in Ron Bouchard’s Historic cup car at Talladega. This is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most shocking upsets in NASCAR history. Bouchard got the win at the Talladega Superspeedway in 1981. So to kick off the YellaWood 500, Earnhardt will take a ceremonial lap in honor of the race.
Earnhardt is a six-time Talladega champion and will drive the lap right before the engines are fired. Fans can also look at the authentic 1981 No. 47 Buick during the Talladega garage experience, which allows fans to get up close and personal with some of NASCAR’s coolest cars. This is all according to the official site of the Talladega Superspeedway.
Bouchard triumphed as a rookie in only the 11th race in his career. Originally from Fitchburg, Mass., the rookie was in third going into the final lap trailing soon-to-be hall of famers Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte. Both drivers were incredibly well established already. They were looking to settle the race between the two of them, believing Bouchard to be a non-threat.
When Labonte shot out to pass Waltrip, Bouchard used the draft to his advantage. He dove low and passed both legends, winning the race by two feet. That day, Bouchard stunned the packed crowd along with Waltrip, Labonte, and the entire racing world.
Bouchard Explained his Path to Victory in an Interview After the Iconic NASCAR Race
“When we first went there, Buddy Baker told me that one of the differences at this track was, that when you came off Turn 4, you had to remember that the start-finish line wasn’t in the tri-oval, 1,250 further down toward Turn 1,” Bouchard told reporters following the race.
“He actually went through the scenario with me where he said, if for some reason I was third coming off Turn 4, I needed to wait until the second-place guy made his move then go the other way because, at that point, there was still plenty of time to draft by those guys at the line,” he continued. That’s exactly the move he pulled to get him the win.
“When we came off Turn 4, I remembered what Buddy told me, and I waited. Terry jumped to the high side of Darrell. Then the only one Darrell was worried about was Terry. I got a draft off the two of them. When I passed them, I remember thinking as we crossed the stripe, ‘I’ll be a son-of-a-gun if Baker didn’t talk about this very thing, and it happened just like he said,” he finished.
It’s a fantastic way to honor the 40 year anniversary of one of the most shocking upsets in the history of racing.