Luke Baldwin
An excited Luke Baldwin celebrates in Victory Lane after being crowned King of the Modifieds. (Victor Newman photo)

17-Year-Old Baldwin Banks $20,000

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — Luke Baldwin is the King of the Modifieds.

Competing in only his third career tour-type modified race, the 17-year-old won the new crown jewel Pace-O-Matic King of the Modifieds race, the feature race of Sunday’s season-opening URW Community Federal Credit Union Race Day event at South Boston Speedway. The win was worth $20,000.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” the young racer said after edging Matt Hirschman by .415-seconds in a 17-lap sprint to the finish following the last of the race’s six caution periods.
“Matt Hirschman is the guy to beat in tour-type modified competition. To put my name above his and guys like Doug Coby, Woody Pitkat, Burt Myers and Ryan Newman, it’s unbelievable. It means so much to bring this home for the Sadler-Stanley Racing Team, everybody at Pace-O-Matic, and team owners Hermie (Sadler) and Senator (Bill) Stanley were here as well. I’m just super glad to bring one home for those guys.

Baldwin, the son of longtime modified team owner and former Cup Series crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr., took the lead from Hirschman on lap 99 and led the final 27 circuits of the .4-mile oval. In qualifying, Baldwin showed his speed by setting a track record for the SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic with a lap of 13.610 seconds and 105.805 mph.

A late-race adjustment by his crew chief was a big key to Baldwin’s victory.

“This thing was an absolute rocket ship,” Baldwin remarked. “Neal Cantor played a 90 percent role in winning this race with a great late-race adjustment coming off of pit road with about 50 (laps) to go that made the car really good on the short run.”

Hirschman, who led twice for a total of 95 laps, had a tough outing, yet he still was able to challenge for the win before having to settle for second place and the $10,000 runner-up prize.

First, following a caution period on lap 40 involving Doug Coby, Coby accidentally backed into Hirschman’s car and banged into Hirschman’s left front tire.

Later, Hirschman was involved in an incident on lap 107 that involved several competitors.

“I didn’t have quite enough to win,” Hirschman pointed out. “I had some things throughout the race, some unfortunate things that happened, some maybe that I take responsibility for. Other things happened like I got a little front-end damage that shouldn’t have happened. Then there was a big wreck on the backstretch where I misjudged. I thought I was clear coming up off the (corner) and when that call was made it was too late. I believe that put the 12 (Jake Crum) into the wall and got other guys wrecked, so, it was not the day we wanted to have.”

Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby finished third, Jonathan Cash took fourth place and Anthony Bello rounded out the top five.

To say Craig Moore had a big day would be an understatement.

Moore wrestled the lead from pole winner Trevor Ward on the 56th lap and sped to a 2.114-second win over 2023 Motor Mile Speedway NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division champion Mike Looney in the 100-lap Sentara Health Late Model Stock Car Division race that was the co-feature race of Sunday’s URW Community Federal Credit Union Race Day event.

The win was Moore’s second career Late Model Stock Car Division win at South Boston Speedway and was his first in a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series event. He had previously won at South Boston Speedway in 2018 in a CARS Tour event.

Also notable was that Moorer won in a car that he borrowed from well-known former racer Jay Fogleman.

“I don’t know what to say,” Moore remarked. “I borrowed the car from Jay Fogleman, and I’m super appreciative to him for letting me borrow the car. To be able to win the race with a car that we borrowed says a lot. I worked for two weeks on this car to get it ready to go.

“I felt that since that CARS Tour race here I’ve had some good runs, but never had the piece we needed to win the race with.”

Blake Stallings finished third, Stacy Puryear finished fourth and Kyle Dudley was fifth.

Cameron Goble got his 2024 season off to a good start with a flag-to-flag win in Sunday’s 20-lap race for the Virginia State Police H EAT Hornets Division.