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Heartbreaking Icebreaker near-miss for Jon McKennedy

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For a brief moment, it appeared Jon McKennedy was headed for back-to-back NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories, and his first Icebreaker 150 triumph.

A cruel twist of fate, however, snatched victory from the hands of the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team.

Coming to the final restart with less than five laps to go, McKennedy, the leader of the race, ran out of fuel in Turn 3. Agonizingly close to the checkered flag, McKennedy found himself stalled up against the wall as the rest of the field passed him by. While shocking to the droves of spectators in the grandstands, McKennedy had realized the car was low on fuel.

“Right before that yellow came out, the car had a little bit of a stumble,” McKennedy said. “Then, under yellow, it had nothing left. Tank was dry. Tough way to lose a race. Probably should’ve topped the car off with fuel. Trying to save a little bit of weight and just didn’t quite fill it up.”

McKennedy and Tommy Baldwin have formed a potent combination since joining forces for 2018, marked by extreme highs and lows. At the New Smyrna World Series in February, McKennedy won the opening race for the Tour Modifieds before getting sidelined later in the week due to problems not of his doing. The Whelen Modified Tour has been much of the same in the opening two races, as seen in a victory at Myrtle Beach and the heartbreaking loss Sunday in the Icebreaker 150.

While the plan for McKennedy and Baldwin was to run part-time on the Tour, the idea of a full-time ride now looks tantalizing after the tear the team has been on. That, however, will all come down to what kind of sponsorship the team can find.

“We’re trying to arrange some things so we can do that,” McKennedy said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Should McKennedy find a way to run every race this season, the rest of the field will need to watch out. He and his team have proven themselves to be legitimate contenders through two rounds of Whelen Modified Tour competition.

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Paul Lambert is an aspiring collegiate journalist. A writer and broadcaster, Paul's excited to cover New England short track racing in 2021. Paul has also been published in the Boston Herald, Speedway Illustrated and on

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