Donny Lia Scores Emotional Victory at Historic Martinsville Speedway Sixth NASCAR Whelen Mod Tour Victory Completes Sweep of Hallowed Racetracks HUNTINGTON, NY (September 4, 2007) -- In NASCAR Modified racing, three racetracks are hallowed ...
Donny Lia Scores Emotional Victory at Historic Martinsville Speedway
Sixth NASCAR Whelen Mod Tour Victory Completes Sweep of Hallowed Racetracks
HUNTINGTON, NY (September 4, 2007) -- In NASCAR Modified racing, three racetracks are hallowed grounds. Stafford Motor Speedway is perhaps the track most synonymous with Modified racing, as many of the legends of the sport have cut their teeth at the legendary Connecticut half-mile. New Hampshire International Speedway is the largest and most recognizable track that the Modifieds race on.
But Martinsville Speedway has a unique character all of its own -- a character that has been tamed only by Modified racing's greatest drivers. Martinsville has tradition and history unlike any other Modified track.
Fittingly, the driver who has tamed two of the three most hallowed circuits on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour already in 2007 completed the sweep Saturday night. Donny Lia took home the winner's spoils for his triumph at Martinsville Speedway in the Whelen Made In America 300 at Martinsville, his sixth win of the 2007 WMT season overall. Lia already had won the historic Spring Sizzler event at Stafford Motor Speedway in April, then won the WMT feature at New Hampshire in July.
"I've won Loudon (NH) and Martinsville and some of the places the really good drivers are supposed to win at. I'm so happy right now that I can't even describe the feeling," said Lia, who also won the Bud Pole for the Martinsville race. "We're having such a great year. It's just special."
Winning at New Hampshire and Stafford already this season, the first two wins of his career at both those tracks, one would think Lia would be used to the feeling of winning at historic facilities. But nothing could have prepared him for the feeling of winning at Martinsville Speedway.
"I'm numb to winning at Martinsville. I don't know what I am feeling. I don't consider myself even in the same category as a Richie Evans, Charlie Jarzombek, Jerry Cook, Bugsy (Stevens) or all the legendary Modified drivers who have put on a show or won at Martinsville. I don't consider myself anywhere even close to the caliber a driver as those guys were. For me to win at Martinsville, the Sizzler and at Loudon, I can't even explain how it makes me feel."
When Lia pulled the Mystic Missile #4 for Bob Garbarino into Martinsville's victory lane Saturday night, the driver became overwhelmed with emotions not only for winning at the historic facility, but also because of the memories of a fallen friend, John Blewett, III, who lost his life in a Modified race just a few weeks prior. As soon as he was handed the winner's trophy, Lia put a decal with "JBIII" on the trophy as a tribute to his lost racing friend.
"He was a special guy," recalled Lia of Blewett. "He was a great racer. He was a nice guy. You could ask him anything and he would tell you the truth, while you have some that would just lie to you. We had a lot of great battles together.
"When I was coming up to victory lane, I said that I want to dedicate this win to John. When I got out of the car everything, all the memories, hit me at once. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My emotions got the better of me there.
"I dedicate this win to John. I figured his name should be on the trophy too."
As emotional as the victory lane ceremony was for Lia, he could not forget about the Mystic Missile team that has led him to such an incredible season that now has him well atop the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points standings as the series hits its stretch run to the championship.
"We have a good chance to win this championship, but is it over? No way. Anything can happen and we know that. But we are enjoying what we have right now. I hope it doesn't come once in a lifetime, but if it did, it wouldn't be a bad deal.
"It's pretty amazing what we've accomplished this year. Every single guy on this team is just wide open and into it. Success just breeds enthusiasm. You get a little taste and you want more. It's got our confidence up and my confidence up."
Lia hopes to ride the wave of emotion and confidence into the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's next stop, coming on September 9th at Thompson International Speedway (CT), a track where Lia took the victory on June 21st.