The New Year’s Bash is arguably the biggest race of the year for Street Stock competitors on the east coast, giving them an opportunity to defend their turf against invaders from other areas of the country. One of those invaders will once again make the trip from Kentucky to Dillon Motor Speedway this weekend, having finished second and third in the past two editions of the race.
Chuck Barnes Jr. has firmly set himself as one of the premier Street Stock drivers in the country over the years, with three Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol, three Halloween 200 wins at Salem, and a Frank Kimmel Street Stock win at Iowa Speedway among many more to his credit.
The former ARCA/CRA Super Series champion sees the New Year’s Bash as a throwback to his Super Late Model days.
“I like it because it breaks up the winter and it’s so much different than what we normally do. I really get a kick out of it,” Barnes told Speed51.com. “With the Late Models we used to travel around the country, you could run CRA to the PASS Series over there at Hickory and stuff. I like trying different things and that’s kind of what this is, just at a different level.”
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Normally competing in the Midwest and with CRA, the New Year’s Bash brings a new set of challenges with the MASS Street Stocks. The rules for the Bash allow for more parity throughout the field, as well as a tire rule that Barnes is not accustomed to.
“Everybody’s on the same motor package, so that levels it out quite a bit even though horsepower isn’t that big of a thing everywhere we go,” he said. “I feel like we’re kind of at a disadvantage because we’re racing on ten-inch tires versus eight-inch tires, this is just a one time a year thing. There’s a lot to learn in a few hours of practice of what the car and tires are like together. That’s the biggest difference, tires and horsepower.”
Barnes’s most recent start saw him pick up a third win in the Halloween 200 at Salem Speedway, an always-wild race that saw 40 cars take the green flag three-wide. Though it’s a race he’s been involved with for years while father Chuck Barnes won it a record seven times, he admits his love for the race isn’t as strong as his father’s.
“I think my dad’s won it seven times and I crew chiefed it for him for probably all of those. It’s never been one of my favorite races because it’s always crazy. There’s a lot of cars on the track, there’s a lot of lapped traffic, it’s just kind of a wild race,” he said. “It’s never been my favorite as a driver but my dad’s always loved it. Looking back on it, my dad’s won it seven times and I’m trying to catch up to some of the things he’s done, I don’t think that’ll ever happen but I’m going to try. My car owner Scotty gives me the best equipment to try to get the job done.”
Nothing but a win is the goal for Barnes and his team heading into this weekend’s race. After coming close on multiple occasions, a New Year’s Bash win to add to his long list of accolades would be big.
“We’ve been down there three times and had a shot to win it twice. Last year we were off our game and just never had a shot to win it really,” he said. “It would mean a lot, it’s out of the CRA series and something different. I’d like to pick up wins in any series that we’re running.”
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-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com