MARTINSVILLE, Va. — When he was growing up, Eric Goodale had a grandfather clock in his house.
The young Goodale hated that clock. He hated the noise, hated the chiming, hated everything about that grandfather clock and didn’t want anything to do with it.
After Thursday night’s Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200, however, Goodale found plenty of reasons to change his tune regarding the iconic timekeeping devices.
Goodale held off fellow New Yorker Tyler Rypkema in a sprint to the finish to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opener, which was also Goodale’s first win at historic Martinsville Speedway.
The trophy for winning any event at the .526-mile paperclip is a Ridgeway Grandfather Clock and, contrary to his younger years, Goodale wrapped his arm around this grandfather clock in victory lane and was all smiles as he discussed his new acquisition with media members.
“This is Martinsville, the aura of it is like no other,” said Goodale. “It’s all about the clock, one of the biggest trophies in racing, and to finally get one is sweet. Everyone has no idea how bad I wanted one of those. Now that that one is mine, I’m going to love it.
“I don’t care how many times it chimes or my fat foot sets that thing off. I’m going to enjoy it.”
As he reflected on the significance of his win Thursday night, Goodale ranked his Martinsville score near the top of his four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories. It wasn’t his absolute favorite, though.
“Other than Riverhead, winning in front of my friends and family for my first one, this would top the list,” explained Goodale. “I don’t think anything, no matter where we win, could top that first one … to have everybody there, but this one is special. I love Martinsville. We’ve been so good here in the past and we just had issues that prohibited us from having good finishes, so it’s awesome to win here.
“There was a lot of media around this race. A lot of people were anticipating it,” he added. “We knew we were coming back to a track that all the drivers love to come to. Anytime you’re on the same stage as the [NASCAR] national series, it obviously puts a little bit more pressure on you to perform well.”
Where is Goodale going to put his new clock?
“I want it to stay in my kitchen for a few weeks because I want to look at that thing, man,” he tipped. “I’m telling you, Martinsville has just always been cool to me. It was the place that my first Whelen Modified tour start [came at] and it feels good to polish one off here.
“I knew we were good when we unloaded here and we just needed to play our cards right, and it ended up being pretty good at the end of the day.”
Goodale will continue his quest for another important trophy — the crystal bowl awarded to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion — when the season resumes April 25 at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway.