NASCAR and the American racing community have lost one of its greats, and by all accounts one of its nicest. That legendary figure is the late Buddy Baker, who we regret to report died this morning at age 74.

Elzie Wylie Baker, Jr. was born in Florence, SC, in 1941. He started racing in NASCAR in 1959, competing in over 700 races over the course of a long career that lasted until 1992. He won 19 Winston Cup races, took 38 pole positions, and finished in the top ten a whopping 311 times. He drove cars powered by Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Chevy, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Ford, proving himself a master at super speedways like Daytona, Talladega, and Charlotte. Of particular note, he took pole at the Daytona 500 four times, and won once in 1980. Although he never won the Cup, he was considered by many to be one of the best stock car drivers of all time, becoming the first driver to break the 200-mile-per-hour barrier on a closed circuit.

After stepping out of the cockpit at Talladega in '92, Baker served as a commentator for numerous networks over the decades that followed. Barely over a month ago, he pushed back from his microphone on SiriusXM for the last time after he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer that ultimately claimed his life. He'll surely be missed, and our condolences go out to those he leaves behind. He certainly had a long career of doing just that.

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