NEW SMYRNA, Fla. – After only select starts in Legends Cars, and very few test laps prior to the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, Luke Baldwin went to Florida just to gain experience in 2023.
When he left the half-mile, high-banked Florida oval, Baldwin had two wins, and a World Series championship in the 602 Modified division to his credit.
“We went down to New Smyrna just to get a feel for the car and gain some experience, so to be leaving with that kind of success, it’s something I would have never imagined,” Luke Baldwin said. “Being pretty fast right out of the gate was a huge confidence boost and it gave me a great mindset. Even after the first two days, I didn’t expect to go out there and win in my third race. The goal was just to keep the car in one piece and maybe grab a podium.”
After practicing for the first time on Sunday, February 12, Baldwin strapped behind the wheel in a race that night, and ran inside the top-five, until he was trapped on the bottom on a late restart and lost a few spots, finishing eighth. He returned on Monday, February 13, and finished fourth.
On Tuesday, February 14, with goals of just finishing another race strong, Luke could have never imagined he would park the 7NY in Victory Lane. After 25 laps, he was celebrating his first career win in rather dominating fashion in just his third Modified start.
“It was unreal, honestly, it’s still hitting me and I’m not sure I even believe it yet,” Baldwin said. “It was something I’ve never felt before. I’m still trying to find the words to describe it.”
“Stepping into it at such a fast track like New Smyrna, it was a little bit nerve racking. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had so many people behind me giving me advice and guiding me through it, it came to me quickly. Being top 15 in the first practice of the week on some old tires gave me confidence and it just continued to grow.”
Baldwin entered the final night for the 602 Modifieds looking to continue to gain experience, but after three top-10 finishes, it was impossible not to start thinking about winning the championship for the week going into the finale. In the end, Baldwin parked the car back in Victory Lane for the second time in the final night – which was enough to seal the championship for the week by two points.
“It’s one of the best wins and moments of my career,” Tommy Baldwin Jr. said after his son, Luke, scored his first career win. “To come here to New Smyrna, it’s an intimidating track. To see how Luke handled himself and prepared himself to be there… All of it is why he ran so well. His thought-process is amazing inside the car. He asked questions where you can tell he’s been listening and paying attention for a long time. I’m proud of him.”
It was the second consecutive World Series title for Tommy Baldwin Racing – one year after Jimmy Blewett piloted the 7NY in the Tour-Type Modifieds to the title during the week. This time, the team celebrated a 602 Modified crown with a rising star, Luke Baldwin.
“Keeping the family legacy going is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Luke said. “To do it at a track like New Smyrna, it was special to me, with all of the success my family had there over the years. Obviously I never got to meet my Grandfather, but the stories I have heard about the kind of person he was are incredible. It’s in my blood. It’s safe to say he was definitely there with me last week.”
For more information on Luke Baldwin, visit the Luke Baldwin Racing page on Facebook. For more information on Tommy Baldwin Racing, visit TommyBaldwinRacing.com and follow the team on social media for the latest updates.
Story by Souza Media/PHOTO: Noah Watts Photography