Looking Back: Eric Goodale Closes The Deal At 2017 Stafford Fall Final

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Looking Back: Eric Goodale Closes The Deal At 2017 Stafford Fall Final
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It was a race that perfectly encapsulated what a unique and crazy season the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour campaign truly was.

Eric Goodale got the win, Ryan Preece was left with nothing to show for a dominating performance, and Doug Coby checked off another top-10 performance en route to another championship.

Goodale used a lapped car to steal away the lead from Preece with three laps remaining in the NAPA Fall Final 150 on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. It wasn‘t a lucky break — the Riverhead, New York, driver was the faster of the two and very may well have gotten around Preece anyway.

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RESULTS: NAPA Fall Final 150 | 2017 Schedule & Results

Goodale started 18th after inspection issues in qualifying. He quickly charged to the front and the No. 58 GAF Roofing Chevrolet was in contention all day.

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It marked Goodale‘s third career win. His first came at his home track, Riverhead Raceway, on Long Island in 2014. His big breakthrough win came in 2016 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Goodale finished a career-best fifth in points in 2017, part of a six-year run where he‘s finished eighth or better in the championship standings.

RACING-REFERENCE: Eric Goodale Career Stats

Preece was dominate all day, winning the pole and looking for a season sweep of the three events that season at Stafford. That he came up short was also fitting.

The then 27-year-old from Berlin, Connecticut, tied for the tour-lead with five wins. His average finish of 5.9 was marketably better than eventual champion Doug Coby (7.4).

But Preece missed a pair of races: The first was a makeup date for a rained out event at Virginia‘s Langley Speedway that conflicted with his wedding. He erased that deficit and held the championship points lead with four races remaining. Then he missed the Fall race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to run the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway for Joe Gibbs Racing.

While Preece did not win at Kentucky, his performance in a limited slate (a win and four top fives in four starts) in the series helped lead to an expanded schedule in 2018 and eventually led to a full-time NASCAR Cup Series ride in 2019.

RACING-REFERENCE: Ryan Preece Career Stats

Preece‘s performance, coupled with the substitution efforts of George Brunnhoelzl III (Langley) and Jon McKennedy (NHMS) helped give Ed Partridge the owner;s championship as the tour saw the first split title in its history.

Championship contenders Timmy Solomito (fifth) and Justin Bonsignore (sixth) both finished ahead of Coby. But Coby‘s eighth-place run helped eventually seal his fourth straight title. While Coby won just once in 2017, he had 10 top fives and 11 top 10s to carry him to the crown.

RACING-REFERENCE: 2017 Championship Standings

It was the second time Coby won the championship with just a solo victory. His other four titles (2012, 2015-16 and 2019) have all come in years where he‘s won four or more races — accounting for a quarter of the wins in those given years.

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RACING-REFERENCE: Doug Coby Career Stats | Timmy Solomito Career Stats | Justin Bonsignore Career Stats

Rowan Pennink entered the penultimate race as one of the six drivers in the championship hunt, but an early accident left him ultimately finishing 23rd and knocking him out of contention.

Solomito would go on to win the Sunoco World Series 150 two weeks later, leading to a unique triple Victory Lane: one for the race winner, one for the owners championship and the final one for the driver championship.

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