Buddy Baker, NASCAR's "Gentle Giant," dies at 74 of cancer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Buddy Baker, a former Daytona 500 winner and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, has died after a brief battle with lung cancer. Baker was 74.

SiriusXM NASCAR Radio announced Baker passed away early Monday morning. Baker stepped down from his role as co-host of ''The Late Shift'' for the station last month when he announced he had a ''huge tumor'' in his lung that was inoperable.

Baker won 19 races in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including the 1980 Daytona 500. He made his series debut in 1959 and ran his final Cup race was in 1992.

Among his victories were the 1970 Southern 500, and the Coca-Cola 600 in 1968, 1972 and 1973. He was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998.

Baker was the first driver to exceed 200 mph on a closed course when he did it in 1970 at Talladega Superspeedway.