Often times it is difficult to stay excited about an event in the far future, especially if it’s a year down the road. But for race fans in the Northeast, especially those who follow the mighty Modifieds, the anticipation for the first Full Throttle Fall Weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway has never waivered since its announcement nearly 12 months ago.
The inaugural event will feature the first appearance for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on American soil, a global field for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, and of course that 250-lap behemoth for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
After years of 100-lap shootouts, the inaugural Musket 250 will give the Modified faithful the big “Cup-style” crown jewel that fans have dreamed, and it’s now just two weeks away.
Even on the heels of a 200-lap showdown at his home track of Riverhead Raceway this weekend, Eric Goodale has Loudon on his mind. While he has seen some hyped-up races on the Tour, he admits that none compare to this.
“Personally there’s two races that stick out in my mind, one was my debut race on the Tour at the Martinsville 300, that one was kind of cool. Then last year at the World Series having six drivers eligible to mathematically walk out of there with a championship. That felt pretty cool, and there was a lot of hype around that one,” Goodale told Speed51.com. “But as far as marketing, it’s really cool to have New Hampshire pushing it out and everyone getting to Loudon.”
Perhaps Goodale’s biggest source of excitement comes from the fact that his last trip to Loudon in July has helped to turn around what was a tough beginning to his Whelen Modified Tour season.
“I needed that in the worst way,” Goodale admitted. “Loudon has typically been one of my worst tracks. We’ve had fast racecars there, just never been able to seal the deal, and put together a good run. My team jokes about me knowing the nurses at the infield care center on a first name basis because I’ve been in there a bunch. But this last race we brought our new Spafco chassis out and finished third in the All-Star race and fifth in the 100-lapper. Definitely a boost of confidence, now it’s about expanding on that and trying move up a few positions.”
Like many drivers, Goodale is looking forward to taking on the challenging length of the Musket 250, but for a very specific reason: multiple pit stops. Something that he hopes that will help him net a historic first win at “The Magic Mile.”
“What’s really cool about this race, in a normal race you might have one pit stop to get your adjustment right and you know in the first two or three laps after a restart whether you made the right decision. It’s going to be cool to have the opportunity to expand what you want to do on the car, and know if you are trending in the right direction. I can’t remember another race where we’ve had the ability to do that. It’s going to great to have multiple opportunities to get your car ready for the last dash.”
Upstate New York driver Patrick Emerling is also chasing his first New Hampshire victory in two weeks. It is going to be a busy weekend for the 2016 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series champion, who will head home right afterwards to compete in the U.S. Open at Lancaster National Speedway the day after. He wants it to be a ride home he’ll never forget.
“It’s going to be awesome, running 250 laps and twenty-five grand to win on a track that size, definitely something to look forward to,” Emerling said. “It’s the biggest race of the year, certainly. We just need that little bit extra, with good strategy, and hopefully it plays out in our favor.”
Emerling caught the attention of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour community when he won in 2017 at Bristol Motor Speedway, vaulting from dark horse to favorite overnight. He hopes that same mojo will now help him complete some unfinished business in the Granite State.
“I think we showed what we had last year at Bristol. We’re just going to do our homework the best we can. I’m pretty comfortable with how we have been running there. Normally we’ve been pretty competitive at Loudon, several top-five finishes. We need to get that win. We’ve been close; we’ve been in contention several times, and we’re ready. Words couldn’t even describe if we could win, it’d be the biggest ever for us.”
Tickets for Full Throttle Fall Weekend are still on sale by visiting this link.
Be sure to also keep up with Speed51.com for more information as we inch closer to the inaugural Full Throttle Weekend.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Rick Ibsen