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Legendary NASCAR Crew Chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. Reveals Cancer Battle

Tommy Baldwin Jr., a 30-year veteran crew chief and Cup Series team owner, opened up about his diagnosis on social media.

By Andrew Woodin
Tommy Baldwin listening to his radio during a race

Competition in sports has provided centuries of gripping battles for fans to feast on, and yet, it’s often in the face of adversity that sports illustrate their enduring power to galvanize people of all backgrounds to rally around others when hardship hits.

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We experienced it with the legendary college basketball coach Jim Valvano, whose passionate words about never giving up while fighting cancer touched the heart and soul of millions of people around the globe. Former sports anchor Stuart Scott echoed Jimmy V’s inspiring sentiment when he too spoke about his heartbreaking battle against cancer — one that, like Valvano's — would ultimately claim the beloved Tar Heel’s life.

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Their message was never about seeking pity, but to instill hope and highlight the need for science to continue to tackle the disease. It was about urging others to take care of themselves and to know that, while cancer is scary for everyone, no one has to tackle it alone. Now, another legend needs the support of sports fans, pundits and critics as he embarks on his new journey with the disease.

NASCAR’s Tommy Baldwin Jr. — who spent 30 years in the sport as a trusted crew chief and Cup Series team owner — announced Sunday on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Tommy Baldwin watching a race

“Today, I post with news that no one ever wants to hear... I have cancer,” Baldwin revealed. “It’s treatable, but this week of racing will be the last for a while for the Tommy Baldwin Racing team. Going to take a break & begin treatment to beat it into the ground.”

“This is not a post for pity,” Baldwin continued. “I want to let the world know that if you don’t feel right, go get checked out by a doctor now. Don’t wait. If I can save one life by posting this, I have done my job. Never be scared to go see the doctor — it could save your life. Take the message & share it with those you love before it’s too late. I will beat this challenge like every other. The grind begins now! Thanks to everyone for the support. See you all at the track as soon as possible."

Baldwin’s experience in NASCAR is expansive and peppered with accolades. According to NBC Sports, Baldwin was Ward Burton’s crew chief when he won the 2002 Daytona 500, one of Baldwin and Burton’s four wins together. His other win from the pit box came in 2005 when Kasey Kahne took the checkered flag at Richmond International Speedway. After serving as a crew chief for 629 races, he launched Tommy Baldwin Racing. In operation from 2009-2020, the outfit featured notable Cup Series drivers Alex Bowman, Danica Patrick and Michael McDowell. Baldwin also serves as the competition director for Rick Ware Racing.

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After Baldwin broke the news of his diagnosis, friends and competitors of the beloved stock car racing legend stepped in to support their comrade.

“Love you, Tommy,” former NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace responded. “You are one of the hardest, hard-core Northeast people I know. You got this.”

“A few minutes ago, my car owner, crew chief and friend publicly shared news about his recent cancer diagnosis,” wrote Doug Coby, who competes full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing. “This is a reminder to all of us that racing is much bigger than competition on the track — it’s about family and friendships we create and our community. My thoughts are with TB and his family as he begins treatment, and I know the racing community will rally around him with nothing but love and encouragement.

“You got this TB, and we got you!”