According to a press release on April 13, Baldwin has taken over as the Cup Series organization’s competition director. He moved into this role ahead of the trip to Bristol Motor Speedway on Easter weekend, but the team did not officially confirm the report until Martinsville Speedway week.
Baldwin’s Cup Series team has not competed since a part-time run in 2020. Instead, the veteran owner has remained focused on other series. He owns a Modified team, which won multiple championships in 2022. It captured the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Owner’s championship and the SMART Modified Tour Driver and Owner’s championships.
“Tommy and I had discussed him joining us before, but we didn’t have the tools, infrastructure, and support in place like we do currently,” Rick Ware said in a press release. “Now we have what’s needed to utilize someone with his racing pedigree. This is a healthy move for our team and he’s already making an impact with all he brings to RWR.”
Baldwin Has Celebrated 5 Cup Series Wins
Baldwin has no shortage of NASCAR experience in a variety of roles. He has worked with prominent drivers as a team owner, such as Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece, Ryan Truex, Dave Blaney, Bobby Labonte, and Danica Patrick among many others.
Baldwin has also celebrated multiple wins while working as a crew chief. His first was with Ward Burton at Darlington Raceway in 2000. They then went on to win the Southern 500 at Darlington in 2001, the Daytona 500 in 2002, and the New England 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2002.
Baldwin’s last Cup Series win as a crew chief took place during the 2005 season. He joined forces with Kasey Kahne at Evernham Motorsports, which resulted in a dominant win at Richmond Raceway in which the driver of the No. 9 Dodge started from the pole and led 242 of the 400 laps.
Baldwin’s Tenure Began With a Strong Qualifying Effort
The start of Baldwin’s tenure at Rick Ware Racing began quietly. There was no fanfare or public acknowledgment other than Lee Spencer’s report about the veteran team owner becoming the competition director.
Rick Ware Racing quickly turned heads during the trip to Bristol Motor Speedway. JJ Yeley started near the back of the field during the third heat race, and he quickly passed several drivers to take over the third position behind Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece.
Yeley scored eight points for finishing eighth and six for passing several drivers, which secured a starting spot on the second row. He started third and finished 20th overall at the Tennessee short track.
Meanwhile, a replacement driver took over the No. 51 Ford Mustang. Cody Ware missed the Food City Dirt Race ahead of his arrest in Iredell County, so three-time Craftsman Truck Series champion Matt Crafton stepped in and made his first Cup Series start of the Next Gen era.
Crafton started 24th in the No. 51, and he overcame an early spin. However, his day came to an early end due to engine failure. He left Bristol Motor Speedway in the 34th position.
Zane Smith will now replace Crafton in the No. 51 Ford Mustang for the trip to Martinsville Speedway while Ware serves his indefinite suspension. Yeley will return to the No. 15 while continuing to work with Baldwin.