Donny Lia Clinches Mod Tour Title One Race Early Finishing Seventh at Stafford Secures First Championship for Driver and Team HUNTINGTON, NY (October 1, 2007) -- When Donny Lia and the Bob Garbarino-owned ...
Donny Lia Clinches Mod Tour Title One Race Early
Finishing Seventh at Stafford Secures First Championship for Driver and Team
HUNTINGTON, NY (October 1, 2007) -- When Donny Lia and the Bob Garbarino-owned #4 Mystic Missile team joined forces at the beginning of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, everyone involved with the team hoped for the best. They wanted to win races and they dreamed of winning a championship.
Now, the dream is a reality. With one race left on the schedule, Lia clinched the 2007 Modified Tour championship by finishing seventh in Sunday's Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT).
"What more could we ask for?" said Lia of his team's dream season. "We have won a lot of the big races, almost all of them. We have had great luck on the race track and a ton of fun with the crew, they are great people. It is a perfect situation, a perfect scenario. I could not ask for anything more. Someone asks me in the beginning of the year what would I expect. I said it would be great to win the championship but I would be happy to win a couple of races."
"So we got a whole lot more that what we could have asked for in the beginning. We would be kind of selfish if we asked for more that what we got by a long shot. I never would have thought that we would have ended up being as strong as we were. Driving for Bob and the people with him has given me more confidence then I ever had. So it makes me go out there with that much more self-assurance and confidence in my equipment because I know everybody that is behind me and the car. If something good is going to happen, it is going to be because they deserve it. They are not going to get anything for nothing so we worked hard. It has been a ton of fun."
Heading into Sunday's Fall Final race, there was only one person who could beat Lia for the championship. Todd Szegedy had won the 2003 Tour title and hoped to be able to grab a second crown, while Lia and his team both looked forward to their first ever championship.
Just like they had battled each other on track all season long, the competition between Lia and Szegedy was a close, but clean, one -- right down to the end.
"There is no one that I would rather be racing for a championship against then Todd," said Lia. "Todd is a class act. A clean racer and one of the best talents to come out of this area in I do not know how long. To be racing against him for a championship there is no one else that I would want to race against. Plus we are friends. It was just great."
The difference between the two contenders came in the fact that Lia had won five races and posted some very impressive finishes all season long. Szegedy had recently won a pair of races himself, but that wasn't enough to catch Lia.
"We just had a better car then they (#2 team) did all year. These past few races they have gotten better. We have been chasing something these last couple of weeks that's weather-related or something we are missing a little bit. But we will get 'em. We pretty much know where we are going wrong and we will get 'em for Thompson."
Lia stayed out on the track and did not pit during the 150-lap Stafford race. Any pit decision is a gamble and this was one that Lia wishes he could have revisited. After all, seventh place was a good enough finish to take the title, but the racer is Lia wanted an even better result.
"I do. I would have liked to have pit," said Lia. "I didn't think that everybody was going to come in so we just stayed out, and sure enough the whole field went in. We did what we did because we were racing to win. Some people may think that we stayed out there for points racing not coming in the pits and going to the back. But that's not the case. We never did that all year. We tried to win every single race. What we had today is the best of what we had. After everybody came in, we could not pit. If we had pitted we would have been third in the back there. Track position is key here. After that we just had to stay out."
Lia and the Mystic Missile one more shot at another victory when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to Thompson International Speedway for the World Series on October 13th-14th.