MODIFIED TOUR TITLE,
CHRISTOPHER TAKES THOMPSON WIN
Second Championship In
Three Years For Long Island Driver
Donny Lia led the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in victories in
2009, but in the end, it was a fourth-place finish in the season finale
Sunday in the World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtra Mart that
was enough to give the Jericho, N.Y., native his second Tour championship in
the last three years.
Defending Whelen Modified Tour
champion Ted Christopher won the race by 1.187-seconds over Ryan Preece, but
Lia’s finish was enough to give him the title by 16 points over Preece. It
was the closest championship margin since 1996 when Tony Hirschman edged
Steve Park by 12 points.
Christopher took the lead for the final time from Lia on Lap 132
and led the rest of the way. However, Christopher was mathematically
eliminated from championship contention when the field took the green flag
Sunday afternoon. He finished third in the standings, 89 points behind Lia.
In the 25th season of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Lia joined
Mike Stefanik (seven), Tony Hirschman Jr. (five) and Jimmy Spencer (two) as
the only drivers to win the championship more than once. In addition, he
gave car owner Bob Garbarino his second championship in three seasons.
Garbarino had fielded the No. 4 “Mystic Missile” in Modified competition
since 1961 for some of the biggest names in the division’s history without
winning one until Lia broke through in 2007.
“It feels completely different than the first time we won the
championship,” Lia said. “One isn’t really better than the other, it’s just
different, I can’t really explain it.”
Lia left in 2008 to run the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
before returning to the seat this season. He won four times in 2009, with
victories at Tour staples Thompson, Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, and New
Hampshire Motor Speedway, as well as the inaugural visit to Bristol (Tenn.)
Lia took the points lead for the first time in 2009 with the win at
Stafford in the next-to-last race of the season on Oct. 4, but it was a slim
26-point advantage over Preece. After a scheduled week off, the World Series
was supposed to run on Oct. 18, but weather postponed the event a week and
prolonged the wait for the championship contenders.
“It really feels good to do it [win the title],” Lia said. “I feel like I’ve
been walking around with a 100-pound dumbbell on by shoulders for two weeks
now, so it really feels good to get it over with.”
Although Preece finished just 16 points back of the championship in
just his third Whelen Modified Tour campaign, the runner-up effort on Sunday
– his 19th birthday – was his Tour-high eighth podium finish of the season.
“I’m just happy to have a great season,” Preece said. “When we
first got in the [number] 3 car, a lot of people had doubts, but we’ve grown
as a team and I’ve grown as a driver. I’ve learned a lot, learned to be
patient. I really just want to win races, I wanted to win this one bad
Doug Coby finished third in Sunday’s race, followed in the top 10
by Lia, Rowan Pennink, Chris Pasteryak, Erick Rudolph, Kevin Goodale, Ron
Silk and Woody Pitkat.
Christopher led twice for 93 laps, while Lia led twice for 57 laps.
Lia started on the pole after rain washed out Coors Light Pole Award
The win was the third of the season for Christopher, his ninth
triumph at Thompson and his third in the season-ending World Series. Now
with the 34 career wins, he is now one victory shy of tying Hirschman for
fourth on the Whelen Modified Tour career list.
“It was a great way to end the season,” Christopher said. “I’m glad
we ended it like that, winning this race. That car was really, really fast
and I was pretty happy with it. Our strategy worked perfect.”
As a touring series champion, Lia earned a protected starting
position in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to be held on
Jan. 29-30 at California ’s Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. The seventh
running of the event, which is run in NASCAR Camping World Series cars,
brings together the top racers from across North America for the “Daytona
500 of short-track racing.”
Next up for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams is the NASCAR
Touring Series Awards
Gala in Concord , N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 14 at which Lia and the rest of the
touring series champions will be honored.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-World Series of
Racing pres. by Xtra Mart
Sunday At Thompson International Speedway, Thompson, Ct.
Lap length: 0.625 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (3) Ted Christopher, Plainville , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150 laps, 71.641
2. (2) Ryan Preece, Berlin , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150, $3,700.
3. (21) Doug Coby, Milford , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150, $3,650.
4. (1) Donny Lia, Jericho , N.Y. , Dodge, 150, $2,700.
5. (5) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley , Pa. , Chevrolet, 150, $2,378.
6. (7) Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150, $2,200.
7. (16) Erick Rudolph, Ransomville , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 150, $2,000.
8. (20) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150, $1,900.
9. (26) Ron Silk, Norwalk , Conn . , Ford, 150, $1,350.
10. (10) Woody Pitkat, Stafford , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150, $1,750.
11. (27) Rob Summers, Vernon , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150, $1,225.
12. (13) Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150, $1,900.
13. (9) Zach Sylvester, Lebanon , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150, $1,675.
14. (11) Ed Flemke, Jr., Southington , Conn . , Chevrolet, 150, $1,550.
15. (17) Glenn Tyler, Hampton Bays , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 150, $1,525.
16. (15) Glen Reen, Wilbraham , Mass. , Chevrolet, 150, $1,675.
17. (28) Richard Savary, Canton , Mass. , Chevrolet, 150, $1,050.
18. (8) Eric Beers, Northampton , Pa. , Chevrolet, 150, $1,525.
19. (25) Renee Dupuis, Glastonbury , Conn . , Chevrolet, 147, $1,400.
20. (6) Mike Stefanik, Coventry , R.I. , Pontiac , 140, $1,475.
21. (24) Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 138, $1,350.
22. (18) Ken Heagy, Calverton , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 138, $1,350.
23. (14) Jamie Tomaino, Howell , N.J. , Chevrolet, 129, $1,350.
24. (22) Johnny Bush, Huntington Station , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 124, accident,
25. (12) James Civali, Meriden , Conn . , Pontiac , 110, transmission,
26. (23) Jake Marosz, Middletown , Conn . , Chevrolet, 104, accident,
27. (29) Bobby Santos, Franklin , Mass. , Chevrolet, 101, accident, $950.
28. (19) Wade Cole, Riverton , Conn . , Chevrolet, 96, drive shaft, $1,350.
29. (4) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield , Conn . , Ford, 19, accident, $1,450.
Time of Race: 1 hour 18 minutes 31 seconds
Margin of Victory: 1.187 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: F.Set Per Rule Book
Caution Flags: 8 for 47 laps.
Lead Changes: 3 among 2 drivers.
Lap Leaders: D. Lia 1-10; T. Christopher 11-84; D. Lia 85-131; T.
Standings: 1. D. Lia, 2020; 2. R. Preece, 2004; 3. T. Christopher, 1931; 4.
R. Pennink, 1867; 5. T. Szegedy, 1823; 6. C. Pasteryak, 1691; 7. M.
Stefanik, 1650; 8. E. Beers, 1645; 9. W. Pitkat, 1621; 10. E. Flemke,Jr.,
Source: Jason Cunningham