USAR: Lonesome Pine: Donny Lia race report

Donny Lia Makes Impressive Pro Cup Series Debut Just Getting to the Track Might Have Been the Biggest Race of the Weekend HUNTINGTON, NY (May 3, 2005) -- The true definition of a racer is someone who will hop into a racecar as often as possible...

Donny Lia Makes Impressive Pro Cup Series Debut
Just Getting to the Track Might Have Been the Biggest Race of the Weekend

HUNTINGTON, NY (May 3, 2005) -- The true definition of a racer is someone who will hop into a racecar as often as possible and drive the wheels off it in search of the best result.

Some racers will compete at more than one track in a weekend. Some racers will run more than one type of racecar. Occasionally, a hardcore racer will even hop on a plane to run at two places separated by hundreds of miles.

But rarely, in this day and age, will a driver race a regular weekly show at a short track and then drive all night long to another region of the country to compete in a totally different type of racecar.

That is exactly what Donny Lia did this past weekend. On Friday night, he drove the #47 Clorox/Wisk SK Modified to a tenth-place finish at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT). After that race ended, it was time to hit I-84 and I-81 for a midnight run to Lonesome Pine Speedway (VA) to make the 9:45 Rookie Meeting for the USAR Pro Cup race.

That was the only time all weekend that Lia was behind.

"It was crazy," said Lia. "I'll tell you, we cut it close getting down there. We rolled in about 10. I missed the rookie meeting, but it worked out. It was a 12-hour ride and luckily, I had a few of my crew members driving so I was fresh for the race. I didn't mind the trip. Not too many people travel like that any more. It was good to be able to do it."

Although it was Lia's first drive in a stock car, he adapted quickly. Lia qualified the #29 Rogers Motorsports car in the third position, ran in the top 10 for much of the race and then survived a handling problem late in the event. Still, he finished 13th, which is better than how most of the 39 teams that showed up for the event fared. However, the racer in Lia wanted more.

"We would have been right up there in the top five if we didn't have a problem," said Lia. "There was something that we just missed in the set-up for the race because it didn't feel like the same car that we tested, practiced and qualified. That's why we finished 13th.

"I think that I had enough of a feel for it that if we had the set-up right, we would have had a top-three or top-five run. We definitely could have battled with those guys, but I was struggling with a really tight racecar the whole night. We just couldn't get it fixed. I think that maybe we had a problem with a spring collapsing. They are bringing it back to the shop to check it out. Something went wrong because that car was a good piece. It was just off for the race."

It was only one week ago when Lia met the team and tested the Pro Cup car in preparation for the Lonesome Pine race, but the combination clicked right off the bat.

"The team that Brad Rogers put together for the race was great," said Lia. "We had a quick pit stop and they are all just a good group of guys. I'm very fortunate to drive a car that was so good."

Lia hopes to be able to fit in more USAR Pro Cup races this season between his regular gigs driving the #18 Lia Motorsports Modified on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the #47 SK Modified. He's also interested in getting behind the wheel of any good racecar if the opportunity presents itself -- and traveling is no problem for the young New York racer.

"I'm not opposed to driving anything," said Lia. "Getting that seat time is what it is all about. Every time that you get out there on the track, you learn something."

Before heading to Lonesome Pine, Lia had a disappointing race in the SK Modified at Stafford. Lia had a great car, but couldn't get the finish that he was capable of.

"I think that we had a car good enough to win the race," said Lia. "We were going to the front early on and I don't know what happened. I got together with somebody in turn one and got collected from the back. The next thing I know, we were spinning out. We changed a tire and banged out some nerf bars, but we took a pretty good shot and the car wasn't the same after that. We limped home to a tenth-place finish."

Lia thinks the luck for the #47 might be ready to turn around, though. He has collected two top-ten finishes at Stafford to start the season, even though he has been collected in wrecks during both events.

"We've been having bad luck and finishing poorly in the SK and we are still fifth in points. Those guys are doing an awesome job and they've been giving me a car that can win every week. Once our luck turns, we're going to start winning some races."

-51ss-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Donny Lia