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Lia Dominating In Stafford Win; First Whelen Modified Tour Win In Over A Year

By Jason Cunningham, NASCAR
September 30, 2013 – 4:37pm

STAFFORD, Conn. (Sept. 29, 2013) – Donny Lia flexed his muscle in dominating fashion on Sunday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.


The two-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion started from the pole and handled all challenges with ease by outdistancing Doug Coby to the finish line by 3.231 seconds to win the CARQUEST Fall Final 150. The win was his first on the tour since Aug. 9 of last year at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.


The Jericho, N.Y., driver now has 17 career wins. Sunday was his fourth at Stafford and second in the Fall Final, the track’s traditional season-ending race weekend.


Rowan Pennink finished third with Todd Szegedy and Justin Bonsignore trailing in fourth and fifth, respectively. Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Santos and Ron Silk rounded out the top 10.


Ryan Preece carried a 41-point lead over Coby atop the season standings into the race and had an opportunity to clinch his first Whelen Modified Tour title, but after a 17th-place finish due to a late-race mechanical failure, he still has work to do in the season finale.


The victory for Lia on Sunday relieved a season’s-worth of pent-up frustration. Lia’s No. 4 “Mystic Missile” has been competitive as usual, but a trip to Victory Lane had eluded him.


That frustration culminated in the previous race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he was leading a quarter mile short of the checkered flag and lost to Szegedy.


“Everything that we’ve been through the last couple of months – that should have been win No. 3 or 4 right there,” Lia said. “When you’re the best car every week and you’re not winning, it’s frustrating. So I just drove 110-percent every lap. I wanted to lap the field.”


With consecutive top-three finishes, Lia is now in position to finish on the championship podium for the first time since his second title was earned in 2009.


Like Lia, Sunday’s fourth-place finisher has experienced a resurgence of late. Szegedy, who ranked 10th in the season standings just two races ago, has moved up to fifth thanks to top-five finishes in three of his last four outings.


The focus now shifts to the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour finale on Oct. 20 at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway where Preece will take a 26-point advantage on Coby into the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart. Preece will vie for his first Whelen Modified Tour title while Coby will look to become the first repeat champion since Tony Hirschman went back-to-back in 2004-05.


While Coby did nearly all he could to gain on Preece Sunday with the runner-up effort at Stafford, his post-race comments underlined a realization that Preece still has sizable advantage heading to Thompson.


“He’s [Preece] going to have to have a huge issue and I’m going to have to have a great day,” Coby said. “But anything can happen at the World Series … all you can do is keep it close.”

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Points B/Points Status
1 1 4 Donny Lia Circle Track Magazine Dodge 150 48 5 Running
2 9 52 Doug Coby Furnace & Duct/Seekonk Grand Prix Chevrolet 150 42 Running
3 4 93 Rowan Pennink Monk Mechanics Hand Cleaner Chevrolet 150 41 Running
4 6 2 Todd Szegedy UNOH/Dunleavy Repair Chevrolet 150 40 Running
5 7 51 Justin Bonsignore M3 Technology Chevrolet 150 39 Running
6 13 22 Mike Stefanik Robert B Our Co/Canto & Sons Paving Ford 150 38 Running
7 12 3 Ted Christopher RB Leasing/Nash Road Motors Chevrolet 150 37 Running
8 5 72 Chuck Hossfeld Jerry Gradl Motors Chevrolet 150 36 Running
9 2 44 Bobby Santos Tinio Racing/Brendan Kelley Music Chevrolet 150 35 Running
10 17 6 Ron Silk TS Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet 149 35 1 Running
11 20 64 Ron Yuhas, Jr Fast Track Electric/Hughes Motors Chevrolet 149 33 Running
12 16 18 Ken Heagy Buoy One Seafood/Mehner Racing Ford 149 32 Running
13 8 88 Bryon Chew Buzz Chew Chevrolet/Elbow East Chevrolet 149 31 Running
14 21 99 Jamie Tomaino Supreme Mfg./Van Wickle NAPA Chevrolet 148 30 Running
15 23 26 Gary McDonald Lakeland Landscape/TRC Electric Pontiac 146 29 Running
16 24 38 Dave Salzarulo * Perf. Engines/Kendall Oil/Ryan’s Chevrolet 142 28 Running
17 3 16 Ryan Preece Sanderson-MacLeod/East West Marine Ford 135 27 Rear End
18 22 58 Eric Goodale Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet 134 26 Running
19 18 07 Patrick Emerling Buffalo Auto Auction/Emerling Chevrolet Chevrolet 103 25 Engine
20 15 46 Eric Berndt Cape Cod Aggts/North End Auto Parts Chevrolet 100 24 Overheating
21 19 28 Ed Flemke, Jr. Ron Bouchard’s Auto Stores Chevrolet 100 23 Running
22 25 33 Wade Cole Perf. Engines/Kendall Oil/Ryan’s Chevrolet 55 22 Rear End
23 10 73 Cole Powell * Copps BuildAll/Tricar Developments Chevrolet 23 21 Rear End
24 11 79 Woody Pitkat Mr. Rooter/Coors Light/Hill Enterprise Chevrolet 17 20 Rear End
25 14 39 Richie Pallai, Jr. MAHLE Performance/Lucas Oil Chevrolet 9 19 Accident
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