NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR
CARQUEST Fall Final
Stafford Motor Speedway
you asked Donny Lia at any point during the weekend how he thought he was
going to do in the race, there was no question- only one correct answer and
absolutely no other option- he was going to win. A tall order to back up,
Lia left no doubt he had the car to do just that and combined with his
determination and focus, the Jericho, NY driver fulfilled the plan. In what
can only be described as a dominating performance, Lia led the first, last,
actually 147 out of 150 laps to take the coveted win in the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour CARQUEST Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Doug Coby crossed for a solid second with Rowan Pennink third, Todd Szegedy
fourth and Justin Bonsignore fifth.
“We had a real good car all weekend,” said Lia. “We’ve had a really good car
the last four or five races. Like I told you guys earlier today, enough is
enough, this car is going to be in victory lane and this is where it is. The
4 car is back.”
Mike Stefanik finished sixth, Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Santos
and Ron Silk completed the top ten.
It is the 17th career win for Lia, his fourth at Stafford, his second Fall
Final trip to victory lane.
After climbing to the top of the speed chart in practice on Saturday, Lia in
the Bob Garbarino owned, Circle Track Magazine sponsored Dodge set fast time
to capture the Coors Light Pole award and when the green flag dropped this
afternoon in the CARQUEST Fall Final, Lia followed up his words with action
and put as much distance as possible between himself and the rest of the
On the start, Bobby Santos who posted second fastest time in qualifying
tucked in behind Lia with Rowan Pennink, Todd Szegedy and Ryan Preece the
top five. As the field settled in, the first caution waved – two incidents,
a single car spin in turn 2 occurred about the same time a three car tangle
happened in turn three. Jamie Tomaino recovered quickly in turn two and
continued rolling while Eric Goodale, Richie Pallai Jr. and Patrick Emerling
all pitted after the melee in turn three.
On the restart, Santos hung on the outside as Lia led, Pennink took over
second with Santos tucking into third, Szegedy and Preece the top five while
Doug Coby who took the green ninth moved into sixth by lap 25.
Coby, a threat to Preece for the championship title, took the green 41
points behind Preece. By lap 26, Coby passed Preece for fifth, passing
Santos for fourth a mere 5 laps later. Preece up on the wheel claimed fifth
again by lap 38. All the action was behind Lia who seemingly effortlessly
led the way cutting through lap traffic as the green flag run continued.
Contact sent Ed Flemke Jr. hard into the wall coming out of turn four
bringing out the yellow on lap 72. The field followed Lia down pit row for
fresh tires and adjustments. Ron Silk was first out with Lia, Justin
Bonsignore, Bryon Chew, Ted Christopher, Coby, Preece, Santos, Szegedy and
Pennink the top ten.
On lap 90, Santos out of shape in turn three had a close encounter with the
wall but was able to drive away. The caution brought Santos, Silk, Ron
Yuhas, Eric Berndt, Patrick Emerling and Dave Salzarulo down pit row.
Lia at the point with Coby, Bonsignore, Chew, Pennink, Szegedy, Stefanik,
Preece, Christopher and Chuck Hossfeld, the top ten on the lap 96 restart,
Lia set to task and the longer the green flag run continued the stronger Lia
ran. Coby was the biggest threat to Lia, the two breaking away from the
field but as the laps ticked off, Lia made the distance grow between himself
and Coby, Lia never looking back. Lia crossed the line for the win, 3.231
seconds ahead of Coby. Pennink completed the podium crossing for third.
“The car really stayed the same all day,” said Lia. “We didn’t make any
changes, the guys had an awesome pit stop, you can’t ask for a better day.
I’m glad everything went well with everything we’ve been through the last
couple of months. We’re the best car every week and we’re not winning? It’s
frustrating. I drove 110% every lap. I just have to thank the guys, it’s
been a while.” It appeared to be smooth sailing for Lia from our point of
view, but Lia hinted he was dealing with tire issues. “We had a pretty bad
left front tire shake and it kind of worked itself away for a while then it
came back towards the end, the last 20 laps or so. I think it was both front
tires, I was concerned. I just hoped we didn’t have a yellow, I was happy to
see the green stay out. Awesome race car, awesome motor, I’ve got to thank
Ron Hutter who gave us a really good piece here. I’ve got to thank Bob and
Joan Garbarino for sticking with this deal. And I’m proud of my crew chief,
he’s come a long way- made some really good decisions setting the car up and
during the race. And the pit stop, they just nailed it, that was awesome,
I’m just really happy.”
“We did what we were trying to do all year,” said crew chief for the winning
4 car, Dan Laferriere. “We’ve come close quite a bit but always had
something go wrong. But this week, it all came together for us. Every year
when we come to this race, we’re pretty good here. We know what to go back
to when it comes to this race. We had a good stop- usually when we get a
chance to have a pit stop we’re pretty good, that’s what our guys like to
do. They practice, they’re good at it and every once in a while we get to do
it.” Changing three tires during the pit stop, Laferriere didn’t make any
changes. “He was real happy with the car on the first set, I did the best I
could to match the tires and make the second set as good as the first. We
really needed this win- we all knew that as long as we kept running good it
was eventually going to come and it did, finally.”
“I don’t think we left any question marks,” smiled car owner Bob Garbarino.
“You come here, sit on the pole and kind of control the event sort to speak-
it’s what you dream of. It takes 100% effort of everyone involved and even
then, it doesn’t work all the time. We’ve been fortunate to win here and
there but this time, we were overdue.”
“We had a great car,” said Coby. “Thought we battled pretty good, got by
some guys on the outside- tried to make it a little interesting for the fans
but Donny and the 4 had a superior car today. He was clicking off 18.7’s all
the way to the finish and that’s pretty much unheard of- congratulations to
the 4 team.” Coby continued, “We have a solid car every time we come to
Stafford. It’s a winning car it just didn’t win today because that 4 was
just a rocket. They were clicking off laps at the end of the race that were
ridiculously fast. It’s nice to have a team that prepares a good car every
week, I trust what they do and they trust what I do, that’s why we run so
“It was important to start up front today,” said Pennink who took the green
fourth. “We fell back a little bit after the pit stop but my team had the
car good enough for me to get back through the field and onto the podium.
We’ve had some bad luck in the last couple of weeks, we’ve torn up some
equipment pretty bad – actually we raced the car here today that I didn’t
plan on running but that’s all we had left. The team got together and put
the car together after Loudon- I wasn’t so keen on how it would go but we
qualified in the top five, track position is real important here and we were
able to keep it up front. Really happy to finish in the top three- it’s
important for me but for my team too after wrecking and struggling the last
couple of weeks. I’m happy with how it went. Hopefully we can go to Thompson
and do it again.”
Needing to gain seven points over Coby for the championship title, Preece
was on his way to claiming the crown. But it was not meant to happen today.
Qualifying 3rd, Preece settled into fifth, then sixth and just before the
caution near the half way mark, was a solid top five. Restarting seventh
after pitting with the field, Preece peddled as far back as tenth but made
big gains forward and back into the top five with 30 to go. It was five
circuits later that the chance to wrap up the title vanished. Suddenly off
the pace, Preece pulled down pit row. A broken rear end the culprit, Preece
was done for the day, finishing the Fall Final 17th.
Crowning the champion for 2013 will come down to the last race at Thompson.
Preece holds a 26 point lead over Coby as the focus turns to the NWMT World
Series finale on October 20th.
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com