The Chrome Horn News



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 starting spot.

    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 comment either.
    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 Savage.
    “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 fifth.
    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 11.888 seconds.
    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 event

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 Connecticut home.

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 model champion.
    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 Budweiser 150.


Source:  Dave Meredith/Independent/The Chrome Horn
Posted:  August 6, 2007

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