Donny Lia Scores Top-10 In Just His Fifth Craftsman Truck Race Increased Seat Time Leads to Impressive Run at Martinsville Speedway CONCORD, NC (February 19, 2007) - Over the last few years Donny Lia has proven that he is a talented and ...
Donny Lia Scores Top-10 In Just His Fifth Craftsman Truck Race
Increased Seat Time Leads to Impressive Run at Martinsville Speedway
CONCORD, NC (February 19, 2007) - Over the last few years Donny Lia has proven that he is a talented and accomplished racecar driver. Lia knew that he faced new challenges in 2008 when he joined forces with TRG Motorsports for the 2008 Craftsman Truck Series season. After two respectable performances, a 26th and 20th at California Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, Lia finally broke through with a ninth-place effort at the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway (VA), scoring top Raybestos Rookie honors.
"It's a big shot in the arm for me and the TRG Motorsports team," said a happy Lia. "I know that I can race with these guys. I know I definitely need a lot more experience, though. Going to Martinsville and running in the top-five and finishing in the top-ten is a real big thing for us. I raced with some real good drivers all day, battling side by side. It was a lot of fun. More so, it was an eye-opener for me to show me that I can race with these guys and they aren't much different than I am. I just need to get accustomed to this vehicle, and I can be up there with them on a regular basis. At the end of the day ninth is not a win; I want to win, but when you are at my experience level, I think it's huge."
Lia's run from a 25th-place starting spot wasn't an easy one. Good pit strategy by crew chief Jason Miller and some hard short track racing vaulted the AutismSpeaks.org Chevrolet to the front. Lia ran as high as fourth during the Kroger 250. Although by races end, Lia had a handful just to keep the #71 truck up front.
"We were tight all day. The longer the run, the worse it got. I knew it was going to be a struggle there with that long green-flag run at the end, and it was going to get tighter and tighter. It was just a matter of protecting the bottom and getting my line right. When you are real tight at Martinsville, you are kind of like a sitting duck. You go into the corner and have to stop and get it turned. At that point, the trucks that are better than you are rolling through the center. We got jacked up and moved to the outside but didn't lose too many spots. We fell back to 12th, but we hustled up and made up a few spots at the end. I was trying to redeem myself at the end."
After racing at two tracks that he was seeing for the first time, the trip to Martinsville was sort of a homecoming for Lia. In 2007 Donny won the NASCAR Modified Tour's prestigious Whelen Made in America 300 on his way to capturing the series championship. However, Lia attributes most of the success in the recent Truck Series effort to testing at the paper-clip shaped oval leading up to the race.
"The key was testing," explained Lia. "I was able to get over 400 laps around the track testing there. For me, just running laps in a Truck is the key. Yeah, it's Martinsville, and I have won there in a Modified, but I need laps in a truck. The more laps I get, the better I am going to be. I'm still at a point where I am trying to develop a feel for these vehicles with the weight and the radial tires. The trucks have a whole different feel, and I am learning to try and figure out what I need in the trucks to be fast. After 400 laps testing there leading up to the race, my feel for the Truck just got a whole lot better and it showed on race day. We ran in the top-ten all day. I think the success at Martinsville had more to do with us testing and getting a feel for this truck than anything."
Testing is something Donny and the newly formed TRG Motorsports team plans on doing a lot more of now that they are getting settled into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ranks. For Lia, it only means things are looking up for the remainder of the 2008 season.
"We'll be testing soon at places like Pocono and Rockingham as well as going to the wind tunnel. It will help us have a better understanding on what we need to bring to each race. With me getting experience behind the wheel of these trucks and us improving our program aero-wise and as a team working close together and improving, it's going to make us so much better. I am really excited about it."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes a few weeks off before it heads to Kansas Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. Besides testing during the off-time, Lia will be honored as the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion in a special pre-race ceremony at the Tour's season opener at Thompson International Speedway (CT) on Sunday, April 6th.
"I'll be chomping at the bit not to be getting behind the wheel, but it will be fun to see everyone in the Mod community," said Lia.