Donny Lia twelfth at Waterford; wins rookie of the race award Waterford, CT - Donny Lia, a Rookie of the Year candidate on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series from Merrick, N.Y., recorded a twelfth place finish in the Waterford 150 at the ...
Donny Lia twelfth at Waterford; wins rookie of the race award
Waterford, CT - Donny Lia, a Rookie of the Year candidate on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series from Merrick, N.Y., recorded a twelfth place finish in the Waterford 150 at the Waterford Speedbowl Saturday night. In addition to the top-fifteen finish, Lia won the Rookie of the Race award for being the best finishing registered RoTY candidate.
"This is definitely good," he said of his first completed race, after starting the year with two DNFs. "We're on the right track now. We're learning the tracks and we're learning how to race the other drivers. We've got something to build on, so we just have to keep this momentum up."
Lia qualified his unsponsored Chevy in the 17th position. Early in the race, though, he fell back in the field when he encountered an accident on the backstretch that involved many cars.
"There was a big jam-up on the backstretch," he said, "I couldn't get to the bottom of the track to avoid it so I basically stopped on the track until it cleared up, and I went back to around thirtieth. But the car was good, and I just had to battle up to the front."
Lia's charge got him inside the top twenty near the halfway point, but his car was tightening up pretty bad. A lucky caution allowed him to visit the pits on lap 65, and his crew went to work and made a few adjustments to free the chassis up.
"After that, the car was a lot better and I was able to get into a good rhythm and started picking cars off again," he said. It wasn't easy as he was involved in many battles on his way through, especially when he got to the outside of Modified veteran, Bo Gunning.
"That had to be the best battle on the racetrack there for a few laps," Lia said. "I mean, we even hit the backstretch wall and got up in the air and everything. He didn't leave me a whole lot of room out there. It was just good hard racing, when I hit the wall I think it toed the front end out a little, which actually made the car better getting in the corner and to the middle."
Late in the race, a caution came out and when the race went back to green with less than twenty laps to go, he found the car was almost undrivable loose, and he just hung in to the finish where he was twelfth after completing all 150 laps. "That thing was just undriveable towards the end. I think the right rear gave up after all those heat cycles through it". Lia said.
"We hadn't finished a race yet this year before this," he said after the race. "We worked hard to finish this one, and learned a lot. We've got lots of notes for when we come back here, and we learned more about the car that will help us at other tracks as well. We're building momentum after a couple of letdowns at Stafford and Thompson, and we're going to Nazareth where we have a little experience from last year to fall back on."
"We've come a long way from last year," he continued.
Next week the Lia Motorsports team travels to the one-mile Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth, Pennsylvania for the running of the Service Electric 100, a race held in conjunction with the NASCAR Busch Series.