STAYNER, ON- With another podium finish under his belt in last Sunday’s twin 35-lap Ltd. Late Model features at Sunset Speedway, defending champion Dwayne Baker continues to close in on current points leader Gord Shepherd. This Saturday night, ‘The Bully’ will return to action at Sunset with hopes of simultaneously surpassing Shepherd at the top of the standings and wheeling his familiar No. 48 to victory lane.
“It’s tough to be mad at a top-3 finish – but I’m not ready to start jumping up and down, because I really feel like we had a car fast enough to win both of those features,” says Baker in reference to Sunday’s finish. “[Crew Chief] Kyle [Baker] has been working on different setup combinations all year, and we’ve really hit on something in the last few weeks. This car is working as well as it has all season. We had something for them last week”
Unfortunately for Baker, a top-3 finish in the opening stanza was met with a rough outing in the second 35-lap feature that saw the veteran limp to a 16th place finish after absorbing significant front-end damage in a collision with the front stretch retaining wall whilst battling inside the top-10.
“It was two drivers racing for position. I don’t think anything more needs to be said,” shrugs Baker when asked about the contact. “That’s racing. We won’t sit around and complain about it – but we’re not exactly happy that it happened”
Despite sitting within arm’s length of the points lead, Baker insists the team’s outlook would remain the same no matter where they were in the championship standings.
“We’re racing to win a championship, but that doesn’t change our strategy at all from week to week,” explains the blue-collar veteran. “Every Saturday, the goal is to win the feature. Because we’re not just racing Gordie [Shepherd] or [Jason] Witty. There are 10 guys behind us in the points that are good enough to win this championship. We can’t just focus on two other drivers”
“When I’m on track, it doesn’t matter to me where you are in the points,” continues Baker. “I’m trying to pass you to win the race. Wether you’re 3-points ahead of me in the standings, or not even in the top-10, I’m going to run you the same way. We’re here to win races – the points will sort themselves out”
With three weeks’ worth of back-to-back-to-back podium finishes to their credit, Baker’s family-run operation will enter July 25th intent on making a statement in the top-heavy Late Model division. Instead, this week, APC United Late Model Series regular Brandon Watson will be at the helm of the No. 48 while Baker attends the wedding of his daughter Brittney.
“This car was a bullet on Sunday, and we’ll get back in the shop for the rest of the week and see how we can get better for Brandon this weekend,” says Baker. “Taylor [Holdaway] has his program figured out right now. So it’s up to the rest of us to find a way to track him down. Brandon won in our car the last time he raced it, so that might be a good sign. July’s a busy month for us – and if we can get this car a little faster, I think we could make things interesting by the time it’s over.”
Baker’s 2015 season is fueled by Zancor Custom Homes, G.D. Coates Used Car Superstore, McGunegill Engine Performance, Four Valley’s Excavating, Clearview Heating & Cooling, Baker Performance Parts and Nisco National Leasing.
Fans can stay up to date with Dwayne and the rest of the team by visiting the official Dwayne Baker Racing page on Facebook.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)