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Eric Goodale wins Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200 at Martinsville Speedway

PHOTO: Martinsville Speedway

When the veteran racer from Riverhead, N.Y. started the engine of his racecar on Thursday night, he wanted nothing more than the Martinsville Grandfather Clock awarded to the winner of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

And following a strong restart with 10 laps to go, Goodale held off a spirited charge from Tyler Rypkema to claim the coveted Martinsville Grandfather Clock and season-opening checkered flag of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.

“This is Martinsville, the aura of it,” said Goodale, still drenched from the post-race celebration. “It’s all about the clock, one of the biggest trophies in racing, and to finally get one is sweet�� You have 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.”

Goodale plans to put it in his kitchen, after surviving all of the thrills, chills and spills of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s first Martinsville race since 2010.

When the night began, one would’ve thought that NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece was going to run away with the tantalizing timepiece.

The 2008 Martinsville modified race winner started from the Mayhew Tools pole after breaking the Martinsville Speedway track record with a 101.768 mph lap in qualifying.

The previous record was set in qualifying for a 1986 modified event, Greg Sacks had a one-lap average of 101.014 mile-per-hour.

Preece led the first 110 laps, which were interrupted by two red flags – one for an hour-long rain delay and another for a multicar pile-up on Lap 15.

Preece’s dominance waned midway through the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200.

Two-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore surged to the lead with 99 laps left.

He looked primed to put the Martinsville Grandfather Clock in his trophy collection, but with 31 laps remaining, Goodale made a powerful move past Bonsignore for the lead and survived Rypkema’s late charge in the closing laps.

Bonsignore finished third, while Preece fell back to a 12th-place finish.

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