Lia Overcomes Wrecks and a Fire to Finish Second at New Hampshire Driver Charges to the Pack a Few Times While Team Works Overtime to Finish Strong CONCORD, NC (September 21, 2009) -- Not a wreck, another wreck or even a fire could keep Donny...
Lia Overcomes Wrecks and a Fire to Finish Second at New Hampshire
Driver Charges to the Pack a Few Times While Team Works Overtime to Finish Strong
CONCORD, NC (September 21, 2009) -- Not a wreck, another wreck or even a fire could keep Donny Lia from a second-place finish in Saturday's Heluva Good 100 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"I can't believe that we finished second," said Lia. "The spindles were all torn up. The steering rack [was damaged] and there was nothing left of the bars anywhere."
Lia's dramatic weekend started on Thursday when during a practice session for the race, a fuel line came loose on Lia's Mystic Missile #4 Modified. That resulted in an engine fire that caused major damage. Lia's team packed up and headed home at that point. But it wasn't to cry in their beers, instead it was to pull an all-nighter at their Connecticut shop to repair both the car and its engine to race at New Hampshire on Saturday.
The team was successful, but Lia had to start in the rear of the field since he did not take part in time trials. That didn't faze Lia. Within the first three laps of the race, he had advanced 13 positions. Just a few laps later, though, Lia found himself in the back of the pack again with a damaged racecar after he got caught in a backstretch wreck.
So Lia started marching through the field again, and he wrecked again. This incident occurred in turn one when Lia got his Modified sideways and was tagged by another competitor -- leading to a multi-car wreck.
"I think that it was a product of starting in the back," said Lia of the two wrecks. "Maybe I was going too hard at one point. I went down into [turn] one too hard and I got real crossed up. I about had it saved and then somebody just ran me over. You really can't blame anybody. I don't know what happened. I don't know what happened on the backstretch the first time either."
This time, though, the damage was much heavier to Lia's Modified. Front-end and nerf-bar damage resulted, with Lia being black-flagged soon after the incident for a dragging nerf bar. His team fixed it, and Lia returned once again to the race -- this time scored as two laps down.
"The guys did an awesome job," said Lia. "They worked so hard to get that nerf bar back on. That was it. If they didn't get that back on, we wouldn't have been able to get back out there.
Lia would receive two "lucky dog" passes during the caution-plagued race to get him back on the tail end of the lead lap. From there, Lia marched through the field again. With one lap to go in the race, he was sitting just outside the top five. Lia came through in the clutch, though, and crossed the finish line in the second position.''
After the race, Lia was nearly speechless when asked how he managed to do it.
"I don't know. I was in a good spot there. I wanted to win the race, but everyone was racing real hard and I didn't have any bumpers left. They all went down into [turn] three and I saw them get all jammed up and everyone on top of each other. I waited to see what happened and turned left. I was able to finish second, so that was pretty cool.
"I've got to thank my guys and I've got to hand it to Ron Hutter. It was an unbelievable motor. It was just the best out there.
"It was just one of those deals. I guess that we have a good thing going. The guys really had everything how we needed and that showed out on the racetrack."
With his runner-up finish, Lia now moves into second place in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings. The 2007 Tour champion is now just 48 points behind defending Tour champion Ted Christopher.
Donny Lia and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race next on Sunday, September 27th, at Martinsville Speedway (VA).