For Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Preece, his first Darlington Raceway throwback weekend means more than a new paint scheme. Preece and the No. 47 Kroger team will tribute Ron Bouchard, who not only raced the No. 47 in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1981-1987, but also raced for Bob Judkins, Preece’s grandfather who passed in October 2018.
The No. 47 Kroger Camaro ZL1 resembles the No. 47 Majik Market/Hawaiian Punch car, driven by Bouchard at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in 1984. Preece and Bouchard both began their racing careers at their roots in the Northeast, racing short tracks locally in the Modified Series. Bouchard, a native of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, won track championships at Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson Speedway and Seekonk Speedway racing for Judkins before moving up to what was then known as NASCAR’s Grand National Division in 1981.
“This paint scheme means more to me than just running a throwback,” Preece said. “We lost my grandfather in October, and this is the perfect way to honor someone that meant so much to me in my racing career. Not only in the Modified Series but persuading me to continue fighting for my dream of racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to run my first Cup race at Darlington Raceway, and I’m so grateful to Kroger for allowing us to race a paint scheme that Ron raced during his NASCAR tenure.”
Judkins, a legendary team owner in the Modified racing world, passed on October 25, 2018. Judkins began building Modified cars in the 1960s, fielding cars for a multitude of top drivers including Ed Flemke Sr., Bugsy Stevens, Ron Bouchard, Brett Bodine and Jerry Marquis. Judkins was also the driving force behind what became known in Modified racing in the early 1970s as the “Pinto Revolution.”
In addition to running the same number, running in the Modified Series in the Northeast and Bouchard racing for Judkins, Bouchard and Preece have one final thing in common. Bouchard won Rookie of the Year in 1981 driving the No. 47 despite running only 22 races. Preece is in the hunt for the Rookie of the Year battle in his first season driving the No. 47 Kroger Camaro ZL1.
Bouchard began his career as a standout Modified driver, but pulled off one of NASCAR’s most stunning victories when he shot from third to first on the final lap at Talladega Superspeedway (then known as Alabama International Motor Speedway), passing Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte to score his lone premier series victory coming in just his 11th start during his rookie season.