2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship is a Team Effort For Donny Lia and The Mystic Missile Team; Fourth-Place Finish at Thompson Ensures The Tour Crown CONCORD, NC (October 26, 2009) -- Auto racing is a team sport where the majority of...
2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship is a Team Effort For Donny Lia and The Mystic Missile Team; Fourth-Place Finish at Thompson Ensures The Tour Crown
CONCORD, NC (October 26, 2009) -- Auto racing is a team sport where the majority of the accolades are given to one individual -- the driver. It is the driver whose name appears on the official results of a race and it is the driver's name that is etched on the trophies given to a winner or a champion.
But in reality, it is a team effort to just show up for a race - much less win that race and possibly go on to earn a championship. So while Donny Lia was named as the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion after his fourth-place finish in the season ending World Series event at Thompson International Speedway (CT) on Sunday, it was his entire Mystic Missile race team that Lia wanted to be spotlighted for the accomplishment.
"This is awesome and I'm just so happy," said Lia after the race. "But really, this is for the entire race team. They just work so hard. This means a lot for me to be able to deliver on my end and do what I need to do. Everyone on this team has a role and I have to make sure that I do what I need to do in my role. Everyone did what they needed to do this year, and that is how we won this championship."
The championship is the second for both Lia and the Mystic Missile team, which is owned by Bob and Joan Garbarino and has been a part of Modified racing for decades. Lia delivered a first title for the team in 2007 before moving on to a winning season in the NASCAR Truck Series last season. For 2009, the driver and team reunited and went on to score four victories together during the regular season.
While Sunday's race was not another victory on the racetrack for the team, Lia's solid fourth-place finish was enough to ensure the championship. It came after a day of pressure where one small mistake could hand the championship over to one of three other drivers who started the race with a mathematical chance of winning the crown.
"It takes everything that you learn through the years in racing. You just need to keep your head screwed on and not do anything stupid," said Lia of his top-five finish."
Now, Lia is left to have the championship, and what it means to him, sink in. Although Lia has won in one of NASCAR's "Big Three" Series, he values his Modified championship greatly.
"Not many guys get to win one and we've won two. That just boggles my mind. In the world of racing, some people might think that this is a small deal and that we don't even exist. But to me, it means so much."
After winning the championship, Lia remembered two friends, John Blewett III and Tommy Baldwin, who lost their lives in wrecks at Thompson while competing on the Modified Tour.
"I got out of the car and I just started thinking of John and Tommy. I don't know whether it is because of the track we are at or what, but I thought of those guys and got overcome with emotion. This just means so much and I just got run over with that emotion."
Lia will formally accept his championship during the NASCAR Touring Series Awards Gala on November 14th in Concord, North Carolina.