Troyer chassis vs. LFR. Spec engine vs. built. North vs. South.
Those storylines filled the previews and race-day scuttlebutt around Caraway Speedway Sunday afternoon in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season-opening event, the Spring Classic 150.
In the end, it was a combination of North – Long Island, to be exact – and a Troyer chassis with a Performance Engines by Billy the Kid Spec engine that proved to be the winning ticket Sunday at Caraway.
Eric Goodale’s Troyer held off Jason Myers’ LFR chassis in the closing laps to earn his first career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race in just his second start. Goodale took the lead from Myers on lap 124 and withstood Myers’ efforts in the final two laps for the win.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Goodale, a seven-year veteran of the northern-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. “It’s extra special. This was the biggest chassis race I think in Whelen Modified Tour history. To come down here and get the win for Troyer means a heck of a lot. We’ve been running Troyer since day one and it’s cool to get them the first Tour win with this new car.”
Polesitter Jason Myers led the first 12 laps, but gave up the lead on lap 13 to four-time NWSMT champ George Brunnhoelzl, III. Shortly thereafter, pre-race favorites and former Northern and Southern Modified Tour champions began dropping like flies around the lead pack.
2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece developed problems under the hood early on. Then Burt Myers, the 2010 Southern Tour titlist had a power steering problem that took him out of contention for the victory. Another Northern Tour champ Doug Coby also fell from the top five with a mechanical problem. 2014 NWSMT champ Andy Seuss started the bad-luck party when, on his birthday, he slammed the turn four wall and ended his day on lap 13. The final shoe to drop came when Brunnhoelzl broke the rear end on his car as he ran second on lap 111.
Goodale, who won his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race in 2014, withstood the issues and drove from Riverhead, New York to victory lane in the North Carolina Piedmont.
“When Burt had that problem early, I just figured that’s one competitor that’s down,” added Goodale. “As the race went on, they kept falling out. My car wasn’t too bad, but we came in and my crew chief Jason (Shephard) made a hell of an adjustment and it was real good after that.”
The only two drivers to lead after Brunnhoelzl had his problem on lap 86 were Jason Myers and Goodale. Myers was the leader on a lap 124 restart with Goodale on his outside, but it was Goodale who got the advantage into turn one for the lead.
“I’ve been struggling with restarts the past two years,” said Goodale. “We had a red flag before that and oil-dry was down and I just telling myself, ‘Make sure you get a good start.’ (Myers) bobbled a little bit on the start. I was able to keep my foot in it and drive off and get a good run into one and clear him. The rest is history.”
Myers had one final effort to re-take the lead with two laps remaining, but that effort ended in a slide up the track and some lost momentum in turn one.
“I did want to go to the high side,” said Myers. “I had already figured out where to set him up to go low. I was getting such a better run up off the corner and I could really pinch him down on the bottom. He left the high side wide open and I probably should’ve known better, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t care if it was the inside or the outside or wherever. It was real dirty up there and I got into the dirty stuff and he got away from me.”
Goodale became the second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regular to win the season-opening NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event. Ted Christopher won three season openers in 2005, 2006 and 2009.
“It doesn’t matter where you win, winning is winning,” said Goodale, who also picked up a Modified victory during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February. “My guys do a hell of a job every week. It’s nice to get a win down in Florida, get a win here and get some momentum for the rest of the season.”
John Smith, in his return to the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for the first time since 2013, finished third. David Calabrese was fourth, while Bobby Measmer, Jr. set a career-best finish of fifth.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will return to Caraway Speedway on Saturday, March 28.
Click here to replay the NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live powered by Speed51.com coverage of the Spring Classic 150.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield
– Photo credit: Speed51.com