(Stafford Springs, CT)—For Stafford SK Modified® driver Jeff Baral, the 2016 season marks his first full-time season in the division since 2010. Despite only running a handful of races between the 2011 and 2015 seasons, Baral and the #18 National Sign Corporation crew have racked up 4 top-10 finishes through the first 7 races of the 2016. This impressive start has Baral and crew feeling like there is more to come.
“It took us a few weeks to get reacquainted with things,” said Baral. “Half of the field now is new to me, and things have changed with how you set the car up and how we approach the races with the tire rule. Before we could just buy tires and now we have to manage tires. We also didn’t have the spec engine package so we went out and looked for the best people we could find to help us out. We have Mike Pettit helping us with the engine and Jimmy Fuller has been helping us out with the chassis. At the open practice before the Sizzler, we were one of the fastest cars on last year’s tires and then we put this year’s tires on and lost some speed. We’ve had to match the chassis to the new tires to make it all work.”
Baral’s best finish of the 2016 season has been a pair of 6th place finishes, which have come in the last 3 SK Modified® events. With a newly freshened engine, Baral feels like his first win of the season is just around the corner.
“I feel like we’re pretty close, we just got the motor refreshed from Mike Pettit,” explained Baral. “Between this season and the races we ran last year, we had about 14 or 15 races on the motor so it’s all ready to go now for the rest of the season. Jimmy Fuller has given us a new chassis package to work with and we’re taking small steps to get to the front.”
Just like the Baral’s prior seasons at Stafford in the SK Modified® division his team is the definition of a family operation. Baral is appreciative of all his support and is enjoying his time at the track thus far in 2016.
“It’s basically me, my brother, and my nephew who are paying for everything and working on the car, and we couldn’t do any of this without the crew members we have helping us out. Our lap times and results in the heats and features have been showing that we’re making progress and I have to thank everyone involved with the team for helping make that happen. We keep the car at Glenn Johnson’s shop so we couldn’t do any of this without his help and Robbie from The Wheel Shop has been helping us out with tires along with Mike Pettit and Jimmy Fuller’s help.”
The upcoming NAPA SK 5k at Stafford would not only be a momentum boost but it would be a big financial boost for the #18 team with a good finish.
“If we were able to win that race, it would be the biggest win of my career,” said Baral. “I think I have 7 or 8 feature wins at Stafford but a win in that race would definitely be the biggest and it would be a big help financially to us to finish out the season. Races like this are why we have guys like Jimmy Fuller helping us out with the chassis and Mike Pettit helping with the motor. There’s definitely room for some improvement and you have to be A+ to be able to keep up with and beat guys like Teddy [Christopher], Rowan [Pennink], and Keith [Rocco]. I think we have everything in place that we need to win some races. If you want competition and you want to race against the best, you race at Stafford. If you can win there you’ve definitely accomplished something.”
Tickets for the July 8th NAPA SK 5K are available online at www.staffordspeedway.com or by calling the speedway office at 860-684-2783. Discount tickets are available at participating NAPA Auto Parts Stores. Tickets purchased through NAPA Auto Parts also include a barbeque dinner and a NAPA goodie bag. Tickets are priced at $27.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for kids ages 6-14, and kids 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating will be priced at $30.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Speedway offers free parking with free overnight parking for self-contained RV’s available. Fans can log onto www.staffordspeedway.com to cast their vote for the NAPA SK 5K Gambler’s Challenge presented by Dunleavey Truck and Trailer Repair as well as lap count and invert.
For more information on the July 8th NAPA SK 5K, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.