Stafford, Conn. -- Donny Lia's 2007 season has been so successful, he was able to clinch the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship with a race remaining on the schedule. Lia, with six wins and 11 top fives in 15 races, finished seventh ...
Stafford, Conn. -- Donny Lia's 2007 season has been so successful, he was able to clinch the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship with a race remaining on the schedule.
Lia, with six wins and 11 top fives in 15 races, finished seventh in Sunday's Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Combined with Todd Szegedy's 22nd-place finish, Lia improved his points lead over second-place Szegedy to 183 and earned Lia his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.
"Numb -- just feeling numb," said Lia of his reaction. "I'm just so happy we won the championship for my race team."
Defending Whelen Modified Tour champion Mike Stefanik won his first race of the season. He led the final 59 laps to finish ahead of runner-up Tony Hirschman and third-place Ted Christopher. Matt Hirschman and Ronnie Silk were fourth and fifth respectively.
Following the race, Stefanik stopped by Lia's celebration in Victory Lane to congratulate the new champion. The Whelen Modified Tour finishes its season with the World Series of Speedway Racing Oct. 14 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.
Lia entered Sunday's race needing a finish of ninth or better to clinch the title by starting the World Series. But when Szegedy spun on lap 97 while running in the top 10, the door opened for Lia to wrap up the title early. In the process, he earned the first NASCAR Modified title for long-time car owner Bob Garbarino. Garbarino has running a Modified since 1961.
"What makes me so proud is to win the championship for Bob Garbarino," Lia said. "The guy is just an amazing person."
Garbarino said it didn't sink in until he started getting congratulations from some of the people that he's competed against for years, like fellow car owner Art Barry and Stefanik.
"You start to get that 'This is really something' feeling," Garbarino said. "You start to understand, to really really it."