Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad: Lia Reclaims Whelen Modified Crown Christopher wins season finale at Thompson THOMPSON, Conn. -- Donny Lia led the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in victories in 2009, but in the end, it was a fourth-place finish in ...
Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad: Lia Reclaims Whelen Modified Crown
Christopher wins season finale at Thompson
THOMPSON, Conn. -- Donny Lia led the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in victories in 2009, but in the end, it was a fourth-place finish in the season finale Sunday in the World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtra Mart that was enough to give the Jericho, N.Y., native his second Tour championship in the last three years.
Defending Tour champion Ted Christopher won the race by 1.187-seconds over Ryan Preece, but Lia's finish was enough to give him the title by 16 points over Preece. It was the closest championship finish since 1996.
Christopher took the lead for the final time from Lia on Lap 132 and led the rest of the way. However, he was mathematically eliminated from championship contention when the field took the green flag Sunday afternoon. Christopher finished third, 89 points behind Lia.
In the 25th season of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Lia joined Mike Stefanik (seven), Tony Hirschman Jr. (five) and Jimmy Spencer (two) as the only drivers to win the championship more than once. In addition, he gave car owner Bob Garbarino his second championship in three seasons. Garbarino had fielded the No. 4 "Mystic Missile" in Modified competition since 1961 for some of the biggest names in the division's history without winning one until Lia broke through in 2007.
Lia left in 2008 to run the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series before returning to the seat this season. He won four times in 2009, with victories at Tour staples Thompson, Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as well as the inaugural visit to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Doug Coby finished third in Sunday's race, followed in the top 10 by Lia, Rowan Pennink, Chris Pasteryak, Erick Rudolph, Kevin Goodale, Ron Silk and Woody Pitkat.
Christopher led twice for 93 laps, while Lia led twice for 57 laps. Lia started on the pole after rain washed out Coors Light Pole Award qualifying Saturday.
As a touring series champion, Lia earned a protected starting position in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to be held on Jan. 29-30 at California's Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. The seventh running of the event, which is run in NASCAR Camping World Series cars, brings together the top racers from across North America for the "Daytona 500 of short-track racing."
Next up for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams is the NASCAR Touring Series Awards Gala in Concord, N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 14 at which Lia and the rest of the touring series champions will be honored.