Lia Earns Inaugural Bristol Victory Second Win Of 2009 Comes In Combo Race BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 19, 2009) -- Donny Lia overcame a late-race miscue to capture the inaugural UNOH Perfect Storm 150 in front of an estimated 46,000 fans at Bristol ...
Lia Earns Inaugural Bristol Victory
Second Win Of 2009 Comes In Combo Race
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 19, 2009) -- Donny Lia overcame a late-race miscue to capture the inaugural UNOH Perfect Storm 150 in front of an estimated 46,000 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday night.
Lia led 40 of the final 43 laps en route to his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season. He jumped a restart on lap 138 and briefly lost the lead to Ted Christopher when race officials ordered him to give his advantage back. However, Lia drove back by Christopher three laps later to take the lead for good.
"We had a great car all day, and for that I cannot thank my guys enough," Lia said. "For me it was all about not making any mistakes. Because we had such a good race car, it was very easy to give it away -- which I almost did -- but we were able to fight back around Teddy [Christopher] there to get the win."
Lia, who won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in June, beat Christopher to the line by 3.126 seconds in the first event for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours at the "World's Fastest Half Mile." It also marked Lia's second win in a combination race following a triumph at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway during his 2007 championship campaign.
It appeared to be Christopher's race to win the majority of the night. Fastest in the first two practice sessions, the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion led the first 107 circuits. Heading into the five-minute halftime break, Christopher and Todd Szegedy appeared to be the class of the field, but Lia was confident that the No. 4 Mystic Missile team would make the proper adjustments to get to the front.
"I was really loose early, on the right rear pretty hard, hung out there," Lia said. "So for me it was just about getting to the halfway break. I knew how much better we could make our race car, so I didn't want to give anything away [track position]. We made some adjustments and it really came on in the second half."
For Christopher, the adjustments the No. 36 Al-Le Installations team made at the break might have been counter-productive.
"It was a good run [overall], just that the second set they tightened it up too much," Christopher said. "It was real tight up off the turn, and that's where Donny had the good run and got by me."
Coming off two-straight wins, Ryan Preece finished third at Bristol to continue his pursuit of Christopher in the championship standings. George Brunnhoelzl III crossed the line in fourth place and was the top finishing NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver in the combination race. Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour proved once again to be strong in the combination race format, which sees both Tours compete for one purse, but receive points based on their finish against other drivers on their tour. Including Lia and Christopher, eight of the top 10 cars across the line were from the Whelen Modified Tour.
Brunnhoelzl will be credited with first-place points and a win for the Whelen Southern Modified Tour standings.
The rest of the top 10 consisted of Szegedy, Rowan Pennink, Ed Flemke Jr., Burt Myers and Erick Rudolph.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman finished 28th and 37th, respectively. Newman was caught in an accident on the second lap of the race and Kahne retired on Lap 100 with engine failure.
Midway through their respective seasons, the points races in the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours continued to remain competitive following Bristol. Christopher is 29 points ahead of Szegedy and 33 up on Preece with six dates remaining. With the win, Lia gained 10 points on Christopher, and is now 82 back.
Brunnhoelzl now leads Andy Seuss in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour standings by 81 points with eight events left to run while defending champion Brian Loftin is 124 points back in third.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will next race Saturday, Aug, 29 at Chemung (N.Y.) Speedrome. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified will also return to the track Saturday, Aug. 29 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.