Category Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Eric Goodale Leads Whelen Mod Tour to Stafford for NAPA Spring Sizzler

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Fresh off of his Whelen Modified Tour season opening win at Martinsville Speedway on April 8, Eric Goodale finds himself in an unfamiliar position as the Tour prepares to invade Stafford for the NAPA Spring Sizzler® on April 25.  For the first time in his career, Goodale sits at the top of the WMT points standings but that won’t change anything about how Goodale or his #58 GAF Roofing team prepares for the Sizzler®.

“I’ve never led the points before, but at this point in the season it doesn’t really make a difference,” said Goodale.  “It certainly helps, but it won’t change anything about how we approach the race.  If it was the last race of the season, it would probably change my mindset a little bit but for right now we need to show up to the track and win races.  Without a mechanical issue or getting caught up in an accident, I feel like we’ll have a top-5 car for the Sizzler.  We’ve been really good at Stafford and we’ve shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times getting caught up in some bad situations, but we definitely have speed at Stafford and if we can hold everything together we should come out of there looking ok.”

Goodale’s Martinsville victory gives his team some early season momentum heading to Stafford, which is a track that Goodale has won at in both Modified Tour and Open Modified competition. 

“It definitely gives us a shot in the arm any time we can win a race,” said Goodale.  “Especially at a track like Martinsville.   With that race being the season opener, everyone was hyped up and had their best stuff out there.”

While Goodale likes coming to race at Stafford, that wasn’t always the case for the Riverhead, NY native.  A lot of testing and a good crew has helped him flip the switch for the positive.

“It took me years to figure Stafford out,” said Goodale.  “In the beginning of my career, I hated Stafford and I didn’t like going there.  Back in the day Stafford was a track where we knew going into the season that we were going to have 4 races there so it was important to run well there.  We did a lot of pre and in season testing and I finally figured out how to drive the track a little bit better.  Fortunately my crew chief Jason Shephard has a good setup in the car that allows me to drive the car like I want to and turn some good lap times.  I know Stafford is hard to learn so when I see other guys struggling I tell them they need to keep after it and it’ll come to you.  Stafford is probably the track we’ve tested at the most in my career and now whenever we want to try something new we like to go to Stafford because we know we run well there and we can see how the new setup compares to the old setup.”

Much like Martinsville was a track that Goodale had on his list of races to win, a Stafford NAPA Spring Sizzler victory would also rank right at the top for Goodale.

“The Sizzler is a big race that I’ve wanted to win for so long,” said Goodale.  “I finally have a win at Stafford but it’s not a Sizzler win.  It would be a little different feeling if we can win the Sizzler and between the facility and the Arute family, Stafford feels more like home than a lot of the other tracks we go to.  A Sizzler win would be over the moon exciting for us.”

As much as Goodale feels like he will be among the favorites to win the NAPA Spring Sizzler®, he points to the cars of Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby, and Craig Lutz as strong contenders.  Coby has 12 career Stafford wins and Lutz scored his first career WMT win at Stafford in the 2019 NAPA Fall Final.  Past WMT Champion Bonsignore has yet to win at Stafford in 38 career starts, but Goodale says that it’s just a matter of time.

“Obviously there’s the two mainstays with Doug [Coby] and Justin [Bonsignore],” said Goodale.  “I know Justin hasn’t won at Stafford yet but I hadn’t won at Martinsville until this year.  The best part about winning the Martinsville race was passing Justin for the lead.  That felt really good because he’s so fast everywhere we go.  Along with Doug and Justin, Craig Lutz is going to be good.  He has a win at Stafford and those 3 teams all have their stuff together and when they’re firing on all cylinders, they’re tough to beat on any given day no matter what track we’re racing at.”

Goodale might want to refrain from making any bets with his crew members about winning the Sizzler as he made a pre-season bet with his team that if he won Martinsville, he would get the entire crew grandfather clocks to match his winning trophy.

“I had to open my big mouth in the off-season,” said Goodale with a laugh.  “We have one of the lightest and most fun crews on the Tour.  We know how to have a good time and how to laugh.”

In addition to the NAPA Spring Sizzler®, Goodale is looking forward to returning to Stafford this season for the four Open Modified races, the the Call Before You Dig 81 on May 14, the Twisted Tea 80 on June 4, the Bud Light 80 on July 9, and the Lincoln Tech 80 on August 20.

“I’m real excited about the Open shows,” said Goodale.  “We got my sponsor GAF involved with Stafford with some sponsorship and billboards. I really want to put my best foot forward and try to win those races but our main focus is going to be the three Tour shows at Stafford.  Any time you can get laps at a track and figure things out it helps.  We’re running the same chassis now for the Tour and Open shows so we can take what we learn and apply it for the next race where in the past we were bouncing back and forth between chassis.”

The NAPA Spring Sizzler® takes the green flag on Sunday, April 25 but the 2021 Stafford season kicks off on Saturday, April 24 with NAPA Auto Parts Opening Day festivities.  General Admission and Paddock Pass tickets for the April 24 NAPA Auto Parts Opening Day as well as Paddock Pass tickets for the April 25 NAPA Spring Sizzler® are now available online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets.  General Admission tickets for the April 25 NAPA Spring Sizzler have sold to capacity limits but fans can sign up for ticket alerts if more tickets should become available.  Stafford Speedway remains under reduced capacity per order of the State of CT due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets as soon as possible to ensure a ticket to the event.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR TO VISIT RIVERHEAD RACEWAY THREE TIMES IN 2021 STARTING WITH MAY 15TH 200-LAP EVENT

Riverhead, NY Apr. 13th
By Bob Finan

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

The old adage the more things change the more they stay the same comes into play where the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Riverhead Raceway’s relationship is concerned as the WMT stars will visit the historic Long Island oval three times in 2021 starting with a 200-lap event Saturday evening May 15th. It will be the first time since the third year of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 1987 that the tour will compete three times on the quarter mile bullring in one season.

During the off season between the 1984 and 1985 NASCAR seasons things were changing not only with the then NASCAR Modified Circle of Champions morphing into the now popular NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour but also with NASCAR racing on Long Island. Islip Speedway had run it’s last race in September of 1984 and Barbara & Jim Cromarty purchased Riverhead Raceway to continue the then NASCAR Winston Racing Series in 1985. On that inaugural 1985 WMT schedule three stops at Riverhead Raceway appeared and were indeed high risk events for the track and WMT teams as they were to be run midweek on Wednesday night with a Thursday rain date.

The record books will show Jimmy Spencer of Berwick, Pa taking the first two Riverhead Raceway WMT events on July 10th and August 7th of ’85 while Richie Evans of Rome, NY took the finale on August 28th just two months prior to his tragic passing at Martinsville, Va. during practice. In 1986 the three Wednesday night contests fell to Mike Stefanik of Coventry, RI, Dan Jivanelli of Hampton Bays, LI and the late Tom Baldwin of Bellport, LI. The trio of races in 1987 saw Mike Ewanitsko of N. Babylon take the first two races, the second on a Thursday rain date while Dan Jivanelli returned to WMT victory lane in the third event in late August.

Fast forward to 2021 where Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz never ones to shy away from a gamble worked with NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race director Jimmy Wilson on returning for the first time in 34 years to a three race format for the WMT on Long Island. Of particular interest the first of the three of 200-lap events will fall on the third week of the 2021 Riverhead Raceway schedule May 15th, the earliest a WMT has been scheduled to race at the Route 58 facility.

For the first time since 1985 no WMT races at Riverhead Raceway were contested in 2020 due to the restrictions brought forth by the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic.

Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville is particularly happy about the increase to three races at Riverhead as he and his Ken Massa Motorsports team will ride a four race WMT at the track where he also won the 2011 NASCAR Modified title. Bonsignore started the streak on July 7th, 2018 and increased the Riverhead win streak to four September 7th, 2019. Justin sits second on the all time Riverhead WMT win list with eight wins trailing Mike Ewanitsko (11) by three victories.

You’d have to go back to 2017 to find a driver not named Justin Bonsignore winning a WMT Riverhead event as Timmy Solomito of Islip swept the two races that year. Berlin, Connecticut resident Ryan Preece is the last non-Long Island resident to win a WMT race at Riverhead with the current NASCAR Cup star sweeping the 2013 races.

Local favorite Eric Goodale of Riverhead is hoping to ride the momentum of his Martinsville, Va. Speedway victory in April to the winners circle at the track where he started his driving career in the Charger division. Eric scored the first of his four WMT wins at Riverhead on June 28th, 2014 and was flooded by family and friends moments after the triumph.  

Aside from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 200 Saturday May 15th Riverhead Raceway will present four divisions of NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series racing with the Crate Modifieds, INEX Legend Race Cars, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks competing on the card. The WMT portion of the show will be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold Track Pass and be shown on NBCSN at a later date.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to Riverhead Raceway Saturday June 19th and Saturday September 18th

2021 Opening Weekend is set to kick off the new race season Saturday evening May 1st and Sunday afternoon May 2nd. The track will again live stream all their weekly racing events at Riverheadraceway.Tv on a pay per view basis.

The complete 2021 schedule can be found at www.riverheadraceway.com while e-mails reach the track at riverheadraceway1@gmail.com while the phone number remains 631-842-RACE.

Eric Goodale finally gets to bring The Grandfather Clock home with Martinsville win

ByStaff Reports NASCAR.com April 9, 2021  at 12:12 AM

Photo Adam Glanzman/NASCAR

MARTINVILLE, VA. — Eric Goodale made his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start at Martinsville Speedway as a 22-year-old in 2008, bringing home a 10th-place finish.

Fast forward to 2021 and Goodale made his 176th career start in the tour’s long-awaited return to the historic flat-track, and walked away as the winner of Thursday’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200. But for Goodale, it was more than about taking the checkered flag.

“To finally win one feels pretty damn sweet,” said Goodale of taking the Martinsville Grandfather Clock back to Long Island. “It is about that clock. I’ve wanted one for so long.”

“We had this one circled on the schedule as soon as it came out.”

It’s Goodale’s fourth career win. Of the first three, one came at his home track of Riverhead Raceway in New York, one was at Bristol Motor Speedway and one was at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway. Martinsville, though, comes with a little extra incentive to win.

Goodale’s #58 GAF Roofing Chevrolet held off fellow New Yorker Tyler Rypkema and defending tour champion Justin Bonsignore over a final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag.

RELATED: Eric Goodale Career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour stats

Rypkema, last year’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year, finished .245 seconds behind Goodale. Bonsignore started at the back of the field after post-qualifying mechanical issues.

Max McLaughlin and Kyle Bonsignore were fourth and fifth, respectively.

RELATED: Complete race results

Doug Coby finished sixth, followed by Tommy Catalano, Patrick Emerling, Woody Pitkat and Jamie Tomaino.

Ryan Preece won the Mayhew Tools Pole Award and led the first 110 laps, but faded late and finished 12th. Fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman was fastest in practice and qualified second, but finished 29th after early race mechanical woes.

The tour will return to the track on Sunday, April 25, for the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler at Stafford.

The Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200 streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Gold, and will air on NBCSN on Thursday, Aril 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET.