Over the course of the last two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour seasons, the two names mentioned the most when race fans discuss the popular tour have been Doug Coby and Ryan Preece. A hot start to his 2014 season helped throw Justin Bonsignore’s name into the hat last season as he contended for the championship all season long, but one name that many haven’t mentioned is Eric Goodale.
It appears that may finally be changing for the Riverhead, New York driver who recently scored the win in the season opener for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour at North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway.
Combined with his recent win during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), his win this past Sunday at Caraway has resulted in a lot of attention for the 29-year-old driver.
Although he enjoys winning, Goodale is one that would much rather fly under the radar.
“Scooping someone’s thunder away is so much better than when everybody is expecting you to do it,” Goodale told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I love it. You see everybody always talking about someone else.”
Goodale seems to enjoy the role of the underdog. Possibly because he’s played that role for much of his career. Over the past few seasons he’d come close to scoring his first career win, but just couldn’t break through. He finally visited victory lane in June last year when he took the checkered flag at a packed Riverhead Raceway (NY) in front of many of his friends, family and hometown fans.
In the 73 starts prior to the beginning of last season, Goodale had just three top-five finishes, according to 51’s Third Turn. In 2014 Goodale scored four top-fives alone, in addition to his win at Riverhead. While the stat line may not reflect it, Goodale considered 2014 to be a breakout season for him.
“The fans and everybody in the sport don’t really see everything except the finishing order,” Goodale said. “You can run in the top-five for 140 laps and something happens to you, but nobody ever remembers that. Everybody just remembers where you finished.
“A lot of that got taken away from us last year, but this year we should be able to finish up there and be able to show everyone that we are for real and we’re going to be one of the contenders all year.”
Goodale has already started to show that this year. The NWMT season hasn’t even started yet and he already has two wins to his credit in
2015. Not only does he have the win at Caraway, but he also scored a big win in the John Blewett III 76-lap memorial race at New Smyrna in February. He’s also in the new Troyer TA-2 concept car, and using a NASCAR Spec engine; a combination that has proved potent thus far.
“I think this year with the new Troyer chassis and the spec engine by Billy the Kid it’s just given us that little bit extra of a push,” Goodale said. “We’ve got a ton of confidence. I felt like we had confidence last year. We just never had the consistent finishes that we were looking for.”
He also believes he’s matured as a driver. The man known as “The Wolverine” thanks to Stafford Motor Speedway’s PA announcer, Ben Dodge, feels that he’s learned to calm down while in the car.
“Not getting fired up and not over driving the car has a lot to do with it,” he said. “I’ve been able to calm myself down and I attribute that to (spotter) Tim Riggleman on the radio.”
Goodale’s Goodie Motorsports team is “the last of a dying breed,” according to Goodale, as it’s one of the few remaining family-run operations on the NWMT. With the success that he and his team have started to see over the last year and a half, Goodale said he loves what’s happening right now and looks forward to the potential for future success.
“It’s cool to be able to have my entire family and friends completely doing this out of our own shop,” said Goodale. “Not many people get the opportunity to do that and it’s cool that it’s finally starting to pay off. We’re jelling pretty good right now.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com