Eric Goodale could not have picked a better place to pick up his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory.
The 28-year old Riverhead native used a late surge to pass Ted Christopher and roll to victory in the Hoosier Tire 200 Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. The victory came in Goodale's sixth full year, and 78th race, on tour.
"I grew up about five miles down the road [from Riverhead Raceway] on Sound Avenue," he said. "I've been coming here since I was 3 years old. I moved a little bit down the street [to Wading River], but it still only takes me about 7 1/2 minutes to get here. Maybe 6 1/2 if I'm in qualifying mode."
It was the perfect crescendo to weeks of frustration for Goodale, who said he's felt good about his cars all year, but had not been able to muster anything more than a fifth-place finish in his four starts this season.
"My crew chief has given me five cars this year capable of winning every race we've been in. We just haven't been able to finish it." Goodale said.
"Finally, tonight the car just kept getting better and better. [Christopher] opened the door for me. I stuck my nose in there and was able to make it stick."
The win moves Goodale into eighth place in the unofficial Whelen Modified Tour standings with 168 points after five of the 14 point races. Doug Coby leads the unofficial standings with 204 points. Coby finished Saturday night's run in sixth place.
Now that he has his first victory under his belt, there's only one thing left for Goodale to do. Win again.
The New Hampshire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12 is the next race and a new question emerges -- can he do it again?
"I hope so," Goodale said with a laugh. "My team has worked so hard. We've come close so many times, especially here . . . Tonight, we held back in the beginning and everything panned out."
West Islip's Justin Bonsignore also raced Saturday night after racing Friday night at Lee Speedway in New Hampshire.
"I got a good eight hours of sleep, slept until about lunch time," Bonsignore said. "I came out here ready to go."
Bonsignore had placed in the top five in all four of his previous starts this season.