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Tommy Baldwin Guides Caleb Heady to Victory at Florence

Andy Marquis | STS

Saturday’s SMART Modified Tour race at Florence Motor Speedway saw a surprise winner in Caleb Heady, driving for former NASCAR Cup Series crew chief and car owner Tommy Baldwin.

Prior to racing in the SMART Modified Tour, Heady was a standout driver in INEX Legends racing with numerous wins and championships – including a clean sweep of the Pro Asphalt division at the Winter Nationals in Florida during Speedweek, a Thursday Thunder championship in Atlanta, Summer Shootout wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and wins at several tracks in Legends racing.

“I’ve been watching him for over a year in the Legends and, when he hinted he wanted to drive the 7NY, I’m like, ‘hell yeah, come on, let’s do it,’” Baldwin said.  “To be a second ever Modified race, set a track record, be on the pole and win, that tells a lot for how good he really is.  We’re excited for the future with him.”

RELATED: Caleb Heady Holds off Bobby Labonte for First SMART Win at Florence

Baldwin is a longtime fixture in Modified racing as well as in NASCAR racing where he has won both the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 as a crew chief with driver Ward Burton.  He has continued fielding the 7NY car in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and now in the SMART Modified Tour.

“Obviously, I’ve been around Tommy,” 200 NASCAR Cup Series champion and current SMART Modified Tour competitor Bobby Labonte said.  “I knew his dad many years and raced up north in the Busch Grand National Series and I actually drove Tommy’s car at Indy one year.  It is really cool.  Obviously, Caleb is driving this thing, but Tommy puts together a great racecar.  He knows his Modifieds inside and out.”

After winning the race, Heady gave his thanks to Baldwin and the entire Tommy Baldwin Racing team.

“I wanted to win this season, but I thought it was going to come later,” Heady remarked.  “I can’t believe it came in the second race.  Huge thanks to Tommy Baldwin racing, everybody there… I had it in my book that I wanted to win one at the end of the year, but to have it in my second race is just unbelievable.”

The SMART Modified Tour will continue visiting a diverse array of tracks that are both familiar and unfamiliar to Heady – including Carteret County Speedway, where Heady enjoyed success in 2019.

“I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year,” Heady said.  “There are some really cool tracks that I’m really looking forward to so you’ll see us there.”

Along with races in the SMART Modified Tour, Baldwin has plans to take Heady up north to compete in a handful of races while also focusiong on the efforts of Mike Christopher, Jr. in the north.

“We’ve got to check our schedule,” Baldwin stated.  “We’ve got a lot of racing coming up with the NASCAR Modified Tour and all the open shows with Mike Christopher, Jr., so [Caleb]’s going to be filling in a lot of other racetracks, so we’re excited.  He’s going to be doing a lot of up north racing too.”

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Marquis comes from St. Charles, Maryland and has a widespread background in journalism, having covered politics in Washington and Maryland as well as nearly every form of auto racing, including NASCAR, IndyCar, AMA Motocross and IHRA Drag Racing. Now living near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, Marquis covers Late Model Stock Cars and Super Late Models in the Carolinas and Virginia.

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