Even though we knew the end would come sooner rather than later for Buddy Baker, the news of his passing this week has still be tough to deal with.

I've had the pleasure not only to know Buddy Baker since the late-70s, but to work with him over the years as well.  He was a great contrast in personalities.  Inside the car, he was the embodiment of "checkers or wreckers".  He loved to go fast and was fierce and determined behind the wheel.

Outside of the car, you won't find many as kind and gracious as he was.  He was also humble.  When fans would start praising him on his call-in shows, Buddy would quickly change the direction to asking the caller about what they liked or didn't like about the "news of the day".

Buddy was also a story-teller extraordinaire.  And, it didn't matter if you'd heard the story before; you'd still be engaged listening to it again and again.

My all-time favorite NASCAR story is when Buddy fell out of the ambulance at Smoky Mountain Speedway.  I don't know how many times I've heard it, I still laugh.

We are blessed in that so many of his great stories have been recorded and, therefore, will remain with us.  But the biggest blessing of all is that so many of us not only got to know Buddy Baker, but got to call him a friend.