RIVERHEAD, N.Y. – NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Eric Goodale has been knocking on the door of Victory Lane the last couple of seasons. As the tour returns to his back yard on Saturday, Sept. 14 for the Green Earth Technologies 200 at Riverhead Raceway, Goodale hopes that door finally opens.
Goodale, originally from Riverhead, got his start in auto racing at the venerable Long Island quarter mile. The education he got from the rough-and-tumble nature of the competition there has served him well on the Whelen Modified Tour, and the bullring races have produced his best results.
“I think it just suits my driving style a little bit better,” Goodale said. “It doesn’t require so much finesse, although having some finesse definitely helps. It’s a bit more beating and banging, which is a little bit more my style.”
The last two seasons Goodale and the No. 58 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet team have become increasingly more of a contender, especially on the bullrings.
In last year’s Riverhead tour race Goodale led a career-high 35 laps and finished seventh. He then began the 2013 racing season by finishing second on the temporary short track at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway in February’s non-points UNOH Battle At The Beach.
In the Whelen Modified Tour’s first trip to Riverhead this season on June 27, Goodale turned in perhaps his best performance to date. Running up front early on, Goodale was dropped back in the running order after being deemed involved in bringing out a caution, but he rallied to cross the line second behind Ryan Preece for his best career finish.
“That really made me come from the back and really earn that second place spot,” Goodale said. “I used up a lot of my car, which I shouldn’t have, and I really didn’t have anything left for Ryan there in that first race.”
Goodale later followed that performance with a strong run at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. – the other quarter-mile track the Whelen Modified Tour runs at. Goodale nabbed his first career Coors Light Pole Award, led 16 laps and was running in the top three before an ignition problem with 25 laps to go ruined his shot at the checkered flag.
“We’ve definitely been in contention to win a lot of these races, the pieces just haven’t fallen into place,” Goodale said. “I definitely feel like we’ve got the setup, the car and the mindset to get the win there this week.
“Hopefully we won’t have to depend on any luck to fall our way because it certainly hasn’t these last two years now.”
With the momentum of top-10 finishes in his last three outings this season, combined with the return to his home track, Goodale may just take luck out of the equation in Saturday’s Green Earth Technologies 200.