From Richie Murray
SPEEDWAY, IN (November 6, 2019) – Driver Anton Hernandez will team up with car owner Ken Baldwin to chase the full 2020 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car tour and pursue Rookie of the Year honors with the series.
Hernandez, a native of Arlington, Texas, is a veteran of midgets and sprint cars with and without the wing, but this will mark his first foray into the realm of USAC Sprint Car racing, a culmination of a dream for the 21-year-old.
“On a scale from 1-10, I’m at 11,” Hernandez exclaimed. “It’s a dream come true. When I was little, running micros and go-karts, I always dreamed of running USAC. Now, it’s come true. I’m excited and can’t wait to get at it in February.”
Baldwin has been one of the most successful car owners through the decade of the 2010s, most notably with driver Chris Windom. The Windom/Baldwin pairing won 16 USAC National Sprint Car feature races together as well as the 2017 series driver and owner championships.
At the end of the 2018 season, Baldwin sold all his equipment and exited racing altogether.
“I sold everything and said I’m never racing again. That didn’t last,” Baldwin admitted. “I just couldn’t stand it. I had to get back in. We were sitting around the house one weekend and looked at each other and said, ‘we shouldn’t have quit.’ So, here we go.”
The combination of Hernandez and Baldwin sort of came out of left field, in a sense. It was a suggestion from another that got the ball rolling. Baldwin acknowledged he had never heard of Hernandez just months ago. The two got in contact with each other, but Baldwin said he couldn’t put a driver in his car without seeing him run. In turn, Hernandez sent Baldwin about 30 videos of himself racing.
Baldwin, along with sponsor and friend, Bob Fox, watched the videos and said, “This kid can drive. We’ve got to get him in a car.” Baldwin flew Hernandez to his Lafayette, Ind. shop and a deal was made to tackle the full USAC campaign next season.
The cars and engines for the team were recently ordered to prep for next season’s run, which will include a full slate of USAC racing complimented by several local Indiana shows. Having championship caliber equipment right off the bat has Hernandez both thrilled and comforted.
“Knowing that you can trust the car 100% and being able to focus more as a driver than about what’s going to happen to the car, that takes a lot of stress off,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to be seeing a bunch of new tracks and a bunch of new faces next year and I’m ready for it.”
Hernandez, a 2017 Tulsa Shootout winner in the 1200cc Mini Sprint division and multi-time 305 RaceSaver Sprint Car winner at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway, joins the USAC tour beginning with the first weekend of action in 2020 at Bubba Raceway Park. Practice night starts it all on Wednesday, February 12, followed by three nights in a row of racing on Thursday, February 13, on Friday, February 14, and the finale on Saturday, February 15.