-Coming into the 2023 Street Stock season at Stafford Speedway, Somers, CT native Jason Raymond’s racing background consisted of iRacing with no real world experience to lean on. Despite his lack of real world experience, Raymond piloted his #49 The Barn Package Store machine to 2 top-5 and 5 top-10 finishes with a season best finish of 3rd to finish the season in 8th place in the standings.
“The season was actually more than what I was looking for,” said Raymond. “I just wanted to learn the car and learn the track because the only previous experience I had was iRacing. At the start of the year I was running around at the back trying to learn how to pass and figure things out and about halfway into the season, my uncles, Al & Cliff Saunders, and I started to do a deep dive into the car setup and we found some things that I really liked. The car started to come alive and I got a fifth place finish and a podium finish so it was more that I expected and we were able to get a top-10 finish in the points.”
Despite having no real experience behind the wheel, Raymond was able to lean on his Uncles Al and Cliff Saunders, who between them have won 2 championships and 44 races at Stafford, to help navigate his way through his rookie campaign. Raymond also took advantage of his time on iRacing to help get to grips with the Stafford half-mile facility.
“Being able to work with my uncles helps a ton,” said Raymond. “If they see something I’m doing, they’ll try to correct me and let me know several different ways to do different things. It definitely helps not having to learn everything myself and I can have someone guiding me in the right direction. I was always pretty good at Stafford on iRacing. I’ve raced with Al and Cliff Saunders as well as modified guys like Cory DiMatteo and Bryan Narducci and a bunch of guys who have had success at Stafford. It was definitely a good tool to use. You don’t really feel much on iRacing but it was great to get a visual of the track and knowing where I can brake and it translates very well from the virtual world to the real world. It’s pretty much identical, even the bumps on pit road are the same on iRacing as in real life.”
With Raymond now having gained a full season’s worth of experience in the Street Stock ranks, he has his sights set on recording his first feature win as well as finishing in the top-5 of the points standings.
“I’m looking forward to the season,” said Raymond. “After the little bit of success that we had this past season I want to try to win at least one race and probably even more than getting a win, I’d like to finish in the top-5 in points. There was one race last year that I led for about 16 laps and then spun myself in turn 3 when I was running in fourth place on a late restart. I just have to be smart with how I’m driving and see how everything plays out. You never really know where you’re going to finish until the race is over because anything can happen. If you remember the race that Chris Danielczuk won, he was in fourth place coming out of turn 2 on the last lap and he won the race.”
Raymond will face stiff competition as both Ryan Waterman and Travis Hydar, who won 13 of the 15 Street Stock races in 2023, are both returning to the division, but he is ready to tackle that challenge head on.
“It’s definitely going to be tough,” said Raymond. “Those guys have things figured out and they’re spot on every week. I have to come to the track every week with the best piece that I can and I have a lot of people that I can lean on for advice. Bert Ouellette knows a lot about these cars and has won a couple of times at Stafford, and my uncles have won championships and many race wins so I’ll lean on them and be sure to watch what Waterman, Hydar, Downey, and all the really fast cars to learn from them. If I can do all that and remain patient and smart, it should work out.”
Raymond and his crew have spent the winter going through his #49 car and along with general maintenance, they fixed several bent parts and pieces while focusing on the driver’s interior to make Raymond more comfortable behind the wheel.
“We’ve gone through the car this winter and we found a couple of things that were bent so we replace those parts but we really worked a lot on driver comfort,” said Raymond. “We redid a lot of the interior so I would be more comfortable in the car and then just some general maintenance stuff. I have to thank Al and Cliff Saunders for all their help working on the car and keeping the car at their shop, my parents, and my girlfriend Claire. For sponsors we have The Barn Package Store coming back after being on the car last season, Tile Chief Floor and Wall Coverings has been with me since the beginning, even in iRacing, Maheux Construction, On the Level Construction of New England, PRVL Media, and Innovations.”
Raymond’s first opportunity to capture his inaugural Stafford feature win will be the 52nd Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, set for April 27-28. The NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 27th and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. Stafford’s Late Model, Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program with qualifying and feature racing.
Sunday, April 28th will play host to the $20,000 to win 52nd NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified® and SK Light Modified divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.
Stafford Speedway PR