(Stafford Springs, CT)—When a driver makes a return to racing after taking some time away, the driver can either pick back up where they left off, or they can experience some growing pains. For Plantsville native Jeff Baral, he is hoping for the former. Baral will make his return to the SK Modified® division after sitting out the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons and he is looking to put his familiar #18 back in NAPA Victory Lane.
“I’ve always wanted to be racing but I have two little daughters that I was trying to spend time with,” said Baral. “They’re 6 and 7 now and they really want to come to the track. They remember me racing from years ago and I asked them if they wanted to see Daddy race and they said yes. I think we could win a race. We had 7 wins over a couple of seasons last time I raced so I don’t see why we can’t win a race.”
Baral won 7 races in a four year span from 2003-2006 and he finished in the top-7 in the points standings in three of those four years. Baral ran a handful of races during the 2007 and 2008 seasons before coming back full time for the 2010 season, where he again finished 6th in the points standings. Baral’s previous experience has him feeling confident about his chances ahead of his on track return.
“Having won in the past definitely gives me some confidence heading into the season,” said Baral. “We know what we need to do to win and how hard we need to work. Wins in the SK Modified® division at Stafford don’t come easy. You tend to have more downs than ups in the racing game, but we were a pretty consistent car last time I ran a full season. We were always a top-5 or top-6 car and I think we can do that again. It would be nice to get at least a win this year and a top-10 in points would be a pretty good first season back for us. I’m sure there will be some growing pains after a couple years away and I have a crew that have all been around Stafford in one form or another but it’ll be their first time working with me.”
While some of the faces remain the same from the last time Baral sat behind the wheel of an SK Modified® machine, there are some new faces as well, which Baral feels has really tightened up the level of competition at the Connecticut half-mile. But Baral will have some familiarity with his car as he bought the same car that he last raced for Lou Mattesen during the 2010 season and he will have Mike Paquette from CD Chassis helping him out with his setups.
“I think the competition level is a lot tighter than it was the last time I ran,” said Baral. “There’s guys like Ryan Preece and Rowan Pennink who are racing now and it’s a lot different, but we plan on running up front. We bought a Chassis Dynamics car, Mike Paquette will be working on the chassis with us, and we got a Mike Pettit engine. The car is actually the same #20 car that I drove for Lou and we’re going to have it look like my old #18 with the blue paint scheme. Magnus Transmissions is helping us out and Glenn Johnson has been a big help for us. We keep the car at Glenn’s shop and he helps us out with the car whenever he can. We want to run the full season and make a run for the points, but we need to find additional sponsors. We have TR Landworks, National Sign Corporation, and Morrison and Johnson as sponsors now, but we’re looking for additional sponsors as well.”
Baral will kick start his return to the SK Modified® division as part of the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 24-26. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. All tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.
For more information on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler, 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.