It’s often said that the “Madhouse” of Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is like no other track in the country. Except, perhaps, a little track situated on Long Island in New York where Eric Goodale calls home, Riverhead Raceway. The Long Island bullring doesn’t get the crowds, or have the fame of Bowman Gray, but the elbows-up, rough style of racing is similar.
For that reason alone, Goodale is confident he can get the job done in his first start at Bowman Gray Stadium in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Strutmasters.com 199.
“I think it’ll be a little bit different, but sort of the same to Riverhead,” Goodale told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “There’s the racing that takes place there every Saturday night and then there’s the Tour racing that happens there. On a regular Saturday night nobody gives you an inch and you can hardly pass on the outside. There’s really no give there. It’s all take on a regular Saturday night.
“For a Tour show it’s a little bit different. They’d rather give you the outside and lose one spot than move off the bottom and get freight-trained back and lose another ten spots. I think in that aspect it’s probably a little bit the same.”
But Goodale, a winner at Riverhead, is quick to point out that he’s “just guessing” that the two tracks are going to be that similar. Though he’s only watched internet videos on how to get around Bowman Gray he thinks that the key to winning at ‘The Madhouse’ in a long race is patience. And also aggression.
“This sounds stupid, but it’s both,” Goodale said. “You’ve got to drive hard and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. But you also can’t force it. Once you get in the top three or four then you can be more lenient with your race moves. But obviously when you get down to the last 40 or 50 laps then you do what you have to do to win the race.”
Goodale is already a winner this year in NWSMT competition. He took down the victory in the season-opening race at Caraway Speedway back in March. Since then he’s run three more races and has scored a top-five finish in each one.
In order to get that top five finish, or maybe even better, Goodale may have to try some different things over the course of the race. Like maybe even going to the outside to make moves on a track that is known for being just a one-groove race track.
“I never go into a track predetermined on how I’m going to race it,” Goodale said. “If I have a car that can get around the outside then you bet your ass I’ll put the thing out there and try to wheel around somebody.”
But he won’t know until Saturday what his car will be able to do. Goodale’s first laps on the track will be at the start of practice on Saturday afternoon. Even though the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified division will be in action on Friday night at the Stadium for two 50-lap features, Goodale said he can’t make it to the track to take advantage of that extra time.
“I’d really love to get down there on Friday, but we’re just too busy at work,” said Goodale. “I can’t do it. It would just be too much to try get down there Friday and I can’t make it work. I’m happy and fortunate enough to be able to make it down there on Saturday.”
Goodale lives and works on Long Island, and he said realizes that as a Northerner he’ll probably be viewed as an enemy by the 12,000-plus people in attendance.
“I think after they see the way my team and I operate I think they’ll be pretty happy with me,” said Goodale with a laugh. “But that’s the other cool part. I can’t wait to race in front of that many people. Hopefully that will bring out the best in me.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo