McKennedy Makes Most of Opportunity; Full Schedule Not Yet Set for 2018 – PTD Exclusive
By MIKE MALLETT
Jon McKennedy is quickly proving he is going to be a force this year with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The Chelmsford, Mass., driver picked up a win at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweek before winning his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour main-event on Saturday in his first ever visit to Myrtle Beach Speedway. From there he headed to Caraway Speedway where he also scored the win in the Southern Modified Racing Series. All of these wins came behind the wheel of the Tommy Baldwin owned No. 7.
McKennedy was still all smiles nearly an hour after winning the Performance Parts 150 Saturday evening. He drove around late leader Chase Dowling to put himself in the top spot before leading the final handful of laps for the victory.
“It’s great to get my first win in this series and I’m just glad I was able to make the most of the opportunity that Tommy (Baldwin) has given me to run his car,” mentioned McKennedy. “It’s great driving for a group of guys that are really smart and know what they are doing. It’s good equipment and that makes my job a lot easier. It’s neat. It’s my first time ever here. Luckily I was able to adapt to the track really quickly I felt like. The guys gave me a great car. The race was won on pit road today. They were awesome. Every stop we gained 8, 10, 12 positions. Big shout out to them guys. I drive the car, but ultimately I feel like they won the race.”
As he mentioned, McKennedy feels fortunate that he has been given the opportunity to compete with the Baldwin team. He knows that night in and night out the operation has the equipment and the manpower to win every time.
“This feels great,” he said. “There are a lot of negative people out there that say I can’t run with the tour and all that, but in all fairness I never had the 100 percent effort chance to do it the right way over the last few years. I always pick and choose races. We had some good runs here and there, a couple top fives, but at the end of the day I was never able to get a legitimate shot to do it right. This is great. Thanks to Tommy we are off to great start. We got a win at Speedweeks so we are two for three. We’ll see what happens. The Ice Breaker is a few weeks so we’ll see if we are going to do that.”
In seeing what happens he means that nothing is set in stone. The team hasn’t planned out the entire schedule. Right now it calls for an eight or nine race schedule with Baldwin. He’ll also continue to run local shows with his own equipment as well as the Supermodified.
“I’m going to be running as much as much as I can when the schedules aren’t conflicting,” commented McKennedy. “Tommy wanted to run eight or nine races his car, possible more depending on what was going on with the (Monster) Cup stuff and all that. He has that commitment. I’m going to give him 100 percent effort. This is a big deal for me. I’ve been successful in all the touring series in the Northeast, all the Modified and the Supermodified stuff and the weekly short track stuff. I’ve won all that. This is something I want, I need to move my career forward. I’m going to run as many races as I can and then the Super when I can when it doesn’t conflict. It’s a busy schedule for sure.”
He concluded that he should know more about his schedule for the season in a few weeks after he gets home and has a chance to put everything together.