Do You Feel Like a Million Dollars? Tommy Baldwin Racing Hopes To

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IJanuary 11, 2017

In less than a week, one driver is going to walk away from the Lowe's Motor Speedway a million dollars richer. 

Yes, one million dollars. 

The NASCAR Sprint All-Star race for 2009 already has 18 drivers locked into the field, and three more will be locked in after the preliminary event.

The Sprint Showdown winner will advance to the main event, along with the second place finisher. 

Then comes the fan vote.

NASCAR fans have until Saturday night to decide who they want to see duke it out for the one million dollar prize.

Haven't decided whose worthy of being a millionaire?

Look no further than Tommy Baldwin Racing and their driver Scott Riggs.

In early January former Daytona 500 winning crew chief Tommy Baldwin announced he would be returning to Sprint Cup Series an owner.

He started Tommy Baldwin Racing, a single-car team with support from Toyota and engines from Joey Arrington Manufacturing, Inc. 

Even more remarkable was the fact that all of the employees at TBR had volunteered to work on the car after being laid off from other teams. 

Baldwin planned to do the same thing he did with both Ward Burton and Kasey Kahne, find victory lane.

Scott Riggs, former Truck and Nationwide Series winner, was named the driver of the No. 36 Toyota.

With just one month until the Daytona 500 and the start of the season, the team had a driver and cars, but no points and no sponsor.

No problem.

Riggs hit the track and qualified for NASCAR's biggest race and earned a three-race sponsorship deal from Red Bank Outfitters and then a one-race deal from Mahindra Trackers.

The No. 36 Tommy Baldwin team finished 25th in Daytona, their best finish of the year, and then qualified for their second race of the season a week later in California. 

After that however, things got rough.

Riggs failed to qualify for the next three races as tough economic times started to take a toll on the team.

Something they are still fighting with limited resources.

But Baldwin and his team are resilient and they haven't shied away from attempting every race so far this season and even if the results aren't there, improvement has shown.

Determination and hard work is taking place at Tommy Baldwin Racing, something Baldwin, when making his announcement about forming the team, said he's used to.

It's something that separates him from every other NASCAR team owner.

Last Wednesday, the No. 36 car was built and ready for Darlington, but as employees started to trickle home for the night, Baldwin himself, brought the car to the seven post machine.

The seven-post is used to simulate different race track and race conditions and will help determine how the car will react. 

Baldwin didn't like what the car showed and on Thursday the team brought the car back and tweaked on it.

When the car was then re-tested it finally produced good results and the car was then loaded on the hauler and left for Darlington on Thursday night.

It was 8 p.m. when everyone finally went home for the night. 

It was just another day for the hands on owner of Tommy Baldwin. 

Where Rick Hendrick or Richard Childress may sit in their offices or make their presence known in the shop, Baldwin can be found under his car or working on it in some way.

Darlington was not only just another race, it was the last chance for a driver to become locked into the All-Star race by taking the checkered flag in the Southern 500.

The No. 36 team wants to be in the big race and at Darlington they did everything they could to put themselves there.

On Friday they were 10th fastest during the first practice, running a lap of 172.614 mph. 

In the second practice session, Riggs ran a lap of 175.228 mph which was 25th quickest. 

Team members expected a top 20 qualifying run. 

Qualifying though, didn't go as planned, only running a lap of 174.724 mph which put their unsponsored Toyota Camry into the race, but in the 37th position.

Riggs has run five races at Darlington, his best finish being a 17th which came a year ago in the same race.

Saturday night it seemed he could repeat that as early on, the 36 team was running in the 27th position.

But the only excitement of their night came from having a front row seat when Michael Waltrip's No. 55 lit up the Darlington track after losing an engine.

Barely past the 100-lap mark, Riggs made the hard left turn into the garage area, ended the teams night after their brakes fail on them.

Now, they're asking the fans not to fail them.

Next Saturday night, Scott Riggs and the No. 36 team will have to race their way into the Sprint All-Star race by winning the showdown race, something that Riggs has done before, winning it in 2006. 

However, this is the time for all the fans to let everyone at Tommy Baldwin Racing know that they have taken notice of their hard work, by giving Scott Riggs the fan vote.

Yes, the fans do matter and can have a say in who wins Saturday night. 

Last year Kasey Kahne used his fan vote to go on and win the All-Star race and take home that million dollar check.

Riggs is a driver that can make that happen two years in a row and with Tommy Baldwin Racing fighting the economy everyday, a million dollars can go a long way in a small company.

A million dollars coming from a win in NASCAR's All-Star race, can go a long way in attracting a sponsor for the blank white-and-red No. 36 car.

It's time for the fans to be heard, as every vote counts.

Voting is open until after the Sprint Showdown race next Saturday, and you can vote more than once a day.

To vote Scott Riggs and Tommy Baldwin Racing into the NASCAR's Sprint All-Star race visit: