Baldwin Back on Top
By Jim Pedley (NASCAR Wire Service) Career back-pedaling appeared to agree with Tommy Baldwin Jr. on Saturday afternoon. Sitting on a director’s chair behind his Tommy Baldwin Racing hauler in the infield of Kansas Speedway, Baldwin smiled and even laughed as he talked about his return to the role of crew chief for the evening’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400.
“It feels good,” Baldwin said. ”Obviously there are a lot of things going on (within his Sprint Cup team) but I’m really enjoying being back to calling the shots” from the top of the pit box.
Baldwin spent a hefty chunk of his racing career on pit boxes. First with the legendary Junie Donlavey in 1997, and then for other teams like for Bill Davis Racing and Evernham Motorsports.
In 2002, while serving as crew chief for driver Ward Burton on Bill and Gail Davis’ team, he helped win the Daytona 500.
In 2009, Baldwin launched Tommy Baldwin Racing. The team, underfunded by today’s standards, has had mixed results over the years but true racers push on and Baldwin is a true racer.
Earlier this week, Baldwin lost his crew chief, Kevin “Bono” Manion, who moved to Richard Petty Motorsports to become crew chief for Sam Hornish Jr. Rather than rush out and try to find another veteran crew chief to call the shots for driver Alex Bowman in the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, Baldwin opted to use a veteran crew chief who was already on the payroll; himself.
“Like riding a bike,” he said of re-mounting the pit box stairs.
Asked why he descended those steps in the first place, Baldwin smiled. “Traveling through life, sometimes you have to decide if you want to grow or just maintain. I just felt like the timing and circumstances were right to take the chance.”