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Tommy Baldwin helps Danica get into 500

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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Tommy Baldwin Racing will get a boost this season, entering into a partnership with championship-winning Stewart-Haas Racing to field the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Danica Patrick’s NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2012.

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The alliance will guarantee Patrick a starting spot in her Sprint Cup debut in the season-opening Daytona 500. TBR will transfer the points from the No. 36 car it fielded in 2011, where it finished the season 33rd in points, to the No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet for Patrick. In the 26 races where Patrick is not scheduled to drive, David Reutimann will pilot the No. 10 car.

TBR was formed by Tommy Baldwin in 2009. Through his own determination, Baldwin has expanded a single-car team to an operation that in 2012 will field two Sprint Cup entries with Patrick, Reutimann and Dave Blaney as well as a NASCAR Nationwide Series entry shared by Ryan Blaney, Ryan Truex and Bobby Santos. As a Sprint Cup crew chief, Baldwin secured five victories, including the 2002 Daytona 500 with driver Ward Burton.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve established at Tommy Baldwin Racing,” Baldwin said. “The opportunity to partner with Stewart-Haas Racing and aid in the development of Danica Patrick is a testament to all the hard work we’ve put in over the years.

“Danica will have a great teammate in Dave Blaney, who has been instrumental in getting our race team to where it is today. And with David Reutimann driving the No. 10 car in the races where Danica is not, the team will remain in a strong and competitive position throughout the year.”

Baldwin will maintain a hands-on presence with the No. 10 car and will work closely with Greg Zipadelli, who serves as SHR’s director of competition.

“Working with Tommy will be like old times,” Zipadelli said. “We both grew up together and competed against each other in Modifieds and we did the same thing when we got to Sprint Cup. To finally be able to work with each other and help Danica Patrick make a successful transition from Indy cars to stock cars is a challenge we’re both looking forward to.

“Partnering with Tommy and his team provides Danica with the foundation she needs to succeed. With a guaranteed starting spot, we can go into each weekend and simply learn. It’s all about getting her comfortable in the car, and with the variety of tracks she’s running, seat time will be incredibly valuable. A guaranteed spot in the race ensures that she’ll have the opportunity to make as many laps as possible.”

Patrick’s 10-race schedule includes the Daytona 500 (Feb. 26) and races at Darlington Raceway (May 12), Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 27), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 25), Atlanta Motor Speedway (Sept. 2), Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 16), Dover International Speedway (Sept. 30), Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 4) and Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 11).

One more race is still to be determined and will be decided after assessing Patrick’s development, but recently she said she liked the idea of the Brickyard — her favorite track on the IndyCar circuit.

“Tommy Baldwin Racing has proven to be a very strong organization and it’s a good fit with Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Matt Borland, vice president of competition, SHR. “It’s a Chevrolet team led by a racer who knows every inch of a racecar. That kind of technical expertise, along with a company mindset that is similar to ours, provides the ideal environment for Danica to learn and succeed.”

Baldwin is still seeking sponsorship for his second team, with driver Dave Blaney.

Baldwin has persevered in NASCAR during one of the toughest economic times in the sport. Baldwin believes his latest collaboration “shows that we have a program that people have faith in.”

“We have started this deal from scratch and built it to where people respect what we have it built it into,” Baldwin said. “I think we proved today that we are a proven commodity in NASCAR and we are serious about building our future here.”

Tagged: Danica Patrick, Dave Blaney, David Reutimann

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