In the previous 64 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races contested at Riverhead Raceway there was perhaps no more a popular winner then Eric Goodale of Riverhead when he topped the late Ted Christopher for the win June 28th, 2014. Eric who grew up roughly three miles from the historic quarter mile bullring was swarmed by family and friends after his first career WMT triumph. Saturday May 15th the 35-year old Goodale will come to the Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead as the early season WMT championship leader and is hopeful to repeat the scene from June of 2014.
For Eric Riverhead Raceway will always hold a special place in his heart as it is the track where he began his driving career in the tracks former Charger division. Then one Sunday afternoon prior to an Enduro race program Eric hopped into brother Kevin’s NASCAR WMT for some test laps and as they old saying goes, the rest is history. Eric not only started racing at the local NASCAR Home Track but he is heavily entrenched in the Riverhead community through the family business Riverhead Building Supply and also recently started coaching his son’s little league team.
After racing and prepping for 2021 at the annual World Series of Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in February, Goodale and the Jason Sheppard led GAF Roofing team were ready for the new WMT season to get underway at the iconic Martinsville Speedway in April. What transpired in the WMT opener not even Eric could have dreamed about as a youth at the Riley Avenue Elementary school but indeed he and his father Edgar who has carefully steered and supported his driving career where coming back to Long island with a Grandfather Clock symbolic of a win at Martinsville.
Goodale backed up his opening race victory with a runner-up finish April 30th at the 2021 NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway to race winner Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY. Emerling trails Goodale by just six markers coming into the Miller Lite 200 Saturday. With his fast start in 2021 coupled with his vast experience at Riverhead Raceway Goodale is instantly among the odds on favorites to win the Miller Lite 200 virtually in his backyard.
Defending NASCAR WMT champion Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville may have something to say about Eric’s early season success though as Justin carries a four race WMT win streak at Riverhead into the Miller Lite 200 and he too will be heavily favored for the win at the track where he was the 2011 Advance Auto parts Weekly Series NASCAR Modified champion.
With a Miller Lite 200 entry list yet to be released it is not known who among the early season top ten in the WMT rankings will venture to Long Island. Young upstart talent Tommy Catalano of Ontario, NY along with Kyle Bonsignore a Bay Shore native who now call North Carolina look to build upon their collective good start to 2021 on the WMT. Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Ma will drive the Tommy Baldwin Racing entry while former 6-time WMT champion Doug Coby of Milford, Ct hopes to finally break into victory lane at Riverhead in the Miller Lite 200. Fellow Nutmeg state residents Ronnie Williams of Ellington and Woddy Pitkat of Stafford hope for their first Long island victory.
As always a heavy presence of teams from or with a connection to Long Island will be aiming for Miller Lite 200 success including Craig Lutz of Miller Place, JB Fortin of Holtsville, Riverhead based Danny Watts Racing and driver Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Ma., Dave Sapienza of Riverhead, Timmy Solomito of Islip and Gary McDonald of Ronkonkoma. The Miller Lite 200 status of Ken Heagy of Riverhead remains questionable after a grinding crash at Stafford.
The Miller Lite 200 will be complimented by four divisions of racing from the Riverhead Raceway Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series with the Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds, INEX Legend Race Cars, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks in action. The Miller Lite 200 will be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold Track Pass and is scheduled to start at 8:00 pm May 15th.
Campers are welcome and are asked to park in the area to the rear of the pits along the wooded area, there are no hook-ups or a fee to camp. Additional information can be found at http://www.riverheadraceway.com, the track phone number remains 631-842-RACE.