DONNY LIA OFFICIALLY CROWNED
60TH NASCAR MODIFIED CHAMPION
Donny Lia’s championship season came to a crowning conclusion Friday
at the Mohegan Sun Resort where he was honored as the 2007 NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour champion at the series awards banquet.
Lia’s first career NASCAR title made him the 60th NASCAR
Modified champion dating back to the division’s first champion, Red
Byron, in 1948. NASCAR’s first sanctioned event was a Modified race
and Lia’s coronation kicks off a celebration of the Modified
division’s rich and storied history that will encompass the entire
“I don’t think it totally set in that we’re the champions
until we got here,” said Lia, “and we had the banquet and you see
the race car on display and hear what everybody had to say. It’s
just a real special deal for us and everything we accomplished this
year comes to a head.”
Lia earned $104,225 as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
champion, collecting $40,000 in point fund money, as well as $8,000
as the season-long Budweiser Pole Award and Whelen Engineering
Winner of the Race Award winner. He was also presented with the
prestigious NASCAR championship ring by NASCAR Managing Director of
Racing Operations George Silbermann. In addition, Lia was awarded
the new NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour trophy. The trophy, introduced
this season by NASCAR and series sponsor Whelen Engineering,
features the name of every NASCAR Modified champion dating back to
Byron’s championship season. The list of past champions includes
such racing legends as Bobby Allison, Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Mike
Stefanik, and Bugs Stevens.
Celebrating with Lia Friday was long-time Modified car owner
Bob Garbarino, who after nearly five decades in the sport, earned
his first NASCAR championship. Phil Kurze, vice president of
motorsports for series sponsor Whelen Engineering, presented
Garbarino with an identical championship trophy as Lia’s, in honor
of Garbarino’s dedication and loyalty to the NASCAR Modified
division throughout the years.
Friday’s banquet provided plenty more for Modified fans and
drivers to celebrate. Kurze announced Whelen has signed an extension
with NASCAR that extends the company’s series entitlement of the
Modified Tour and the Southern Modified Tour an additional five
years to the current agreement – through 2016.
In addition, NASCAR announced the 2008 schedule, as well as plans to
implement an optional spec engine as a cost-saving initiative for
Modified teams. The spec engine, which has had solid success in the
Grand National Division, will be introduced for the 2008 season.
A number of special honors were also awarded Friday.
Stefanik, a six-time Modified champion, collected $6,000
Friday as the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award, while Ted
Christopher earned $5,035 as the Featherlite Driver Improvement
Award. Richard Savary was honored with a $2,000 check for winning
the Sunoco Rookie of the Year. Todd Szegedy picked up the trophy for
finishing second in the championship standings, and Matt Hirschman
received the third-place driver’s trophy.
In addition, Szegedy was named the Most Popular Driver; the
Boehler Family was honored with the Dedication Award; Eric Sanderson
received the Len Boehler Car Owner Award; Joe and Linda Brady were
presented with the Whelen Modified Tour Women’s Auxiliary Award;
Engine builder Bob Bruneau was honored with the Sportsmanship Award;
and Ronnie Silk was honored with the Driver Achievement Award.
This year’s awards ceremony featured NASCAR race broadcaster
Mike Joy of Fox Sports as master of ceremonies.
Christley/NASCAR WMT PR
December 15, 2007