Jon McKennedy, TBR Split On Whelen Mod Tour; McKennedy To Lead New Team On Series



Jon McKennedy works on his windshield for his Thompson Outlaw Modified Saturday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – In the realm of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour “Silly Season” rumors, the relationship between driver Jon McKennedy and team owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. has been at the forefront of the gossip chatter.

It’s no longer rumor.

McKennedy and the Tommy Baldwin Racing Whelen Modified Tour team have parted ways.

The future with the series is certain for McKennedy. At this point it’s uncertain for Baldwin.

McKennedy will lead a new Whelen Modified Tour team through ownership from Tim and Cheryl Lepine. Baldwin said Saturday that he’s unsure what his team will be doing for the 2022 season.

“Jon did a great job for us for [four] years,” Baldwin said. “He started building what he needed to build and he’s got a full-time job there. We kind of decided that it was dumb for him not to continue building what he’s building there. So he will move on and do what he needs to do there.”

Said McKennedy: “We both have a lot of respect for each other, it was just time for a change. No hard feelings there at all. I’m really appreciative of the opportunity that Tommy gave me. I remember a few years ago he called me out of the clear blue to come drive his car at New Smyrna. … We had some good years. We won a handful of races. … We won a handful of poles. Led a lot of laps. Finished second [in 2020] in points. The last few years was good, but it was time for a change.”

McKennedy started racing for Baldwin on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2018. McKennedy got his first and only Whelen Modified Tour victory in the 2018 season opening event for the series at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway. McKennedy ran 12 of 16 Whelen Modified Tour events in 2018 for Baldwin and eight of 16 series events in 2019. The team ran all nine events together in 2020 and finished second in points. McKennedy was eighth in the series standings in 2021 running 13 of 14 Whelen Modified Tour events.

Mike Christopher Jr., who has run selected Open Tour Type Modified events for Baldwin in recent years, will take on a bigger role with the team in 2022. Christopher made his Whelen Modified Tour debut running for Baldwin at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on Sept. 18.

Baldwin said he’s unsure just what that schedule with Christopher will look like.

“I’m waiting to see the [Whelen Modified Tour] schedule before we decide what we’re doing,” Baldwin said. “Waiting on that and waiting to see what Stafford [Motor Speedway] is doing with their Open shows.”

Christopher will run the Whelen Modified Tour season opening event for Baldwin at New Smryna (Fla.) Speedway on Feb. 12, 2022. Baldwin said Christopher will run whatever the team does with the Whelen Modified Tour or in Northern Open events. He said Caleb Heady will run selected Southern events.

McKennedy was at Thompson Speedway Saturday preparing to run his Tour Type Modified in Sunday’s Thompson 300 at the Sunoco World Series. Christopher is running the Thompson 300 for Baldwin.

McKennedy connected with Tim and Cheryl Lepine to field an ISMA SuperModified Team and Tour Type Modified team for Tri-Track Open Modified Series and other Open events in 2021. Together they have decided to run full-time on the Whelen Modified Tour.

“It’s now my living,” McKennedy said. “I work on the cars during the week and I race them on the weekends. When they approached me a little while back about doing something full-time with the Whelen Modified Tour deal I thought it was a great opportunity. Tommy and I talked a little bit about it and just decided it was time for a change. I’ve got good opportunity to make a living working on cars and racing them. At the end of the day Tommy and I shook hands and went our separate ways.”

“I look forward to this new deal. I guess it’s nice sometimes being in a control of your own deal as far as all the maintenance and that stuff. I’ve always been a hands-on guy most of my racing career. I’m excited. I’ve got some good people surrounding me. I’ll have Rob Fuller calling all the shots as far as race adjustments and fine tuning like that.”

Tommy Baldwin Jr. (left) and Mike Christopher Jr. (right) at the Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)


Comments

  1. “Just Me – The Original says
    September 25, 2021 at 11:07 pm
    My predictions:
    #7NY – Driver change – Mike Christopher
    #10 Closes shop Coby to the 85
    #1 Ed Harvey closes shop
    McKennedy to his own car #79 and Rob Fuller crew chief
    Phil Moran to the #16 team
    Ok, what’s your predictions????”

    I’m claiming foul. Those weren’t predictions they were scoops from and insider. Just kidding!
    Coby to the 85 is the only one left isn’t it?
    It’s probably a deal that’s mostly done now just a few things to work out with the announcement to follow.

  2. Nascarf048 says

    Well what I’ve heard is that Stuart’s already sold a car and could be selling their second one, which was posted for sale. I know the crew chief said the last race of the season that he’s going hunting and will figure out next year after hunting season. So I wouldn’t be too sure about Coby to the 85.

  3. Just Me - The Original says

    I might have jumped the gun on the Coby prediction….. There’s something else in the works since I made the original post. Unfortunately, I can’t say. But if comes true, it would be better than the 85 deal.

  4. What you just said……..even better. Don’t even want to know. Just looking forward to new twist.

  5. Looks good for MC jr but as usual money talks

  6. Just Me the Original has it figured out not that clown who has to keep telling us how smart he is

  7. Jimmy King says

    Does anyone have the scanner frequency for the 79? It’s not posted anywhere, pay site or free. I would like to listen in for the 300. Thanks for any help.

  8. Jimmy, the last couple events the 79 used 451.9250, before that 469.6375

  9. Jimmy, last couple events the 79 used 451.9250 and before that they were using 469.6375

  10. Many thanks Paul.

  11. Jon Will be an Instant Contender….. True Facts… That # 79 is a Beautiful Showpiece The Colors and Chrome really set it apart… He will be my Pick for 2022 Champion… Ownership is Biggest Factor to Running the Tour. Jon has all the Talent and Respect among his peers, to get the job done …!!! Good Luck in 2022 , I look forward to Watching you Compete..

  12. There goes the neighborhood. If Jon can keep Fuller hungry it’s game over for the 51.

  13. Can someone tell me who the spotter was for McKennedy? I had no idea how much of the race the spotter controls. WOW!! That was a great race!

  14. Just Me - The Original says

    Rob Fuller was the spotter for McKennedy

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