THE MILLER LITE 200 (140)
FROM RIVERHEAD RACEWAY
August 4, 2007
By Dave Meredith
Donny Lia Wins Fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Race this
Season an Early Christmas Present from Stefanik and Christopher.
Controversy in Pits as NASCAR DQ’s Bobby Grigas and gives Glenn Tyler a
Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik battled to a draw as both
drivers traded hits late in the race that took away any chance of either
winning. The #36 car of Ted Christopher from Plainville, CT, drove over
the front tire of the #16 of Mike Stefanik of Coventry, RI, to pass for
the lead. Stefanik retook the lead from Christopher as he also made
contact. The two made contact again and both cars had to pit. Stefanik
changed a right front tire that was flat and Christopher lost a lap in
the pits. Mike Stefanik headed to the motor home after the race
declining interviews. Ted Christopher was not immediately available for
Donny Lia acquired the lead and battled with Bill Park of
Manorville, NY, in the #20 over the last six laps. Lia, who joined Bob
Garbarino’s Mystic Missile team this year, has put together an
astounding season so far. He has five wins to date -- the first coming
at the Stafford Motor Speedway Car Quest Spring Sizzler, and the second
also at Stafford’s ½-mile in the Connecticut Classic on May 25th. His
third set of checkers came at Thompson International Speedway in
Thompson, CT, during the Charter Cable and Internet 150 on June 21st.
Lia’s next win came at the Magic Mile in Loudon, New Hampshire, where he
exclaimed, “This is our Daytona and this is the best it gets!” The win
at Riverhead was number 5 on the season and the fourth of his career at
the ¼-mile bullring of Riverhead Raceway.
Lia’s year is certainly prolific, but he won’t be able to
catch Mike Stefanik who won 13 races in a season in 1998. Lia has
doubled his career wins on the WMT to ten with the five wins this
season. Lia has been racing on the WMT since 2001. He dedicated this win
to his spotter who wasn’t able to be in victory lane at NHIS, Jimmy
“I think I might have had something for Donny at the end,”
Park said. “If I could have got him I would have, but I wasn’t going to
bump him to do it.” Park was referring to the courtesy Lia showed him in
the 77-lap “Tribute to a Legends Race” two week earlier.
At the interview after the race, Lia was courteous to Park
who is competing for the track championship. “He was going for a
championship here,” Lia said. “I probably could have driven a little
harder and forced the issue. But I didn’t because I wouldn’t want to be
going for the championship and somebody take me out.” After the WMT
race, Park stated, “I owed him the same courtesy.”
“We did not have a car to win,” Lia said. “I’m not ashamed to
admit it. But you just have to hang in there and get what you can.
Tonight, it worked out for us. Bottom line is we’re just doing what we
have to do and riding that wave.”
Norwalk, CT, driver Ronnie Silk finished third in the #19
Major Motion Transportation/Silk Plumbing Chevrolet. Justin Bonsignore,
of Holtsville, NY, was fourth in the #23 Chevrolet, and James Civali of
Meriden, CT, in the #28 Ramar Hall/Liberty Limousine Chevrolet was
Rounding out the top ten were: 6th) Danny Sammons,
Trenton, NJ; 7th) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 8th) Howie Brode,
East Islip, NY; 9th) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, NJ; and 10th) #40 Ryan
Preece, Kensington, CT.
Ted Christopher earned his 13th Bud Pole Award on the Whelen
Modified Tour at Riverhead by 1/1000th of a second over Bill Park in the
#20. Christopher’s time was 11.816 seconds. Park’s time was 11.817
seconds. Howie Brode in the #96 clocked an 11.819, and Jerry Marquis in
the #00 had an 11.882. Tony Ferrante in the #31 was fifth quickest with
The “flash” format was in effect for this event.
Heat race results were:
Heat #1: (1) #12 Jimmy Blewett, (2) #44 Jivanelli, (3)
#11 Steuer, (4) Beers, (5) #15 Anderson, (6) #46 Houlihan, (7) #03
Accardi Jr., (8) #21 Savary.
Heat # 2: (1) #16 Stefanik, (2) #28 Civali, (3) #23
Bonsignore, (4) #02 Bertuccio, (5) #19 Silk, (6) #10 Flemke, (7) # Ryan
Preece, (8) #0 Sammons.
Provisionals: #58 Goodale, #59 M. Hirschman, #2
Szegedy, #99 Tomaino, #8 Tyler, and #33 Wade Cole. Matt Hirschman was
sent to the rear of the field at the start of the race after he spun in
his heat and went to the infield, supposedly saving his tires.
The action was slowed by 66 laps of caution in the 144 lap
The Good News
As I entered the Riverhead Raceway paddock area looking for
the zero team of Ralph Solhem, I encountered Greg Narducci, crew chief
of Bobby Grigas. Narducci, who suffered serious injuries while heading
out to the camping area at New Hampshire International Speedway on a
golf cart back in July, was seated in the chair under the #09 awning at
the end of the hauler.
I was amazed at the number of well-wishers who gathered
around Narducci. “Gregzie” as he commonly known on the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour, was in great spirits today. He looked really good!
Venetta, his wife, wasn’t far away keeping a close eye on him!
The doctors OK’d his travel from Florida to Riverhead for the
event. Narducci related that the doctors let him out of Dartmouth
Hospital in New Hampshire and let him return to Florida to begin
rehabilitation of his leg and arm. The Florida doctor, after looking at
the MRI’s, was amazed that Narducci was not more seriously injured, and
told him he was very lucky.
I asked Greg if he had a different outlook on life now. He
said, “I was very lucky and life goes on. I have greater appreciation
for how fast life can change, and you never know when your life can be
turned upside down. I know I am fortunate to have a great wife and many,
many great friends and family in racing supporting my recovery efforts.
I want to thank everyone for all their get well wishes, cards, e-mails
and phone calls.”
Greg was giving his teammate and car chief Brad Sears a hard
time about setting up the car for Grigas. He said, “how many times have
you seen me do that and you still can’t get it right,” said a smiling
Gregzie. Narducci now lives in Florida, and had previously called
From Good News to Bad
Gregzie and Bobby Grigas III had earned a provisional for the
race, but had a broken power steering rack. In the driver’s meeting the
driver were told to bring any cars with damages to the impound area for
NASCAR to view. Grigas had forgotten about the impound area and headed
to his trailer, and had put his car on the lift. Grigas was reportedly
told by a senior WMT official that he could change the rack and race.
According to Grigas, the same official who told him he could race, then
revoked the invitation.
The official said the other teams were complaining that he
had the car on the hauler and shouldn’t race. Grigas III was unhappy,
but was willing to accept the ruling. A ruling later was made by NASCAR
that the #8 of Glen Tyler would be allowed to race in Grigas’ place.
Well this didn’t sit too well with Grigas’ dad because Tyler’s car was
on the hauler lift being readied to load too.
“If you don’t allow one driver to race because his car was on
the hauler’s lift, why should the other race?” asked Grigas Sr. His
assertion was it was favoritism towards Tyler, a former Riverhead late
Grigas Sr., made his feelings know to the official of the
event, and when he returned to the hauler he said, “I’m sure were done
with WMT after I expressed my opinions of favoritism.”
Next WMT Race: Friday, August 10, at Stafford
Speedway, New England Dodge Dealers 150. James Civali is the defending
champion. Then, Thursday, August, 16th, it’s the Thompson Speedway
Meredith/Independent/The Chrome Horn
August 6, 2007