Pit Pass: Donny Lia Rallies To Win Whelen Modified Tour Bud 150 At Thompson Speedway

THOMPSON – Donny Lia sat in his car after NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour qualifying just wondering.

Donny Lia celebrates Thursday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Corey Sipkin/NASCAR)

Lia and his Bob Garbarino owned team came into the season with high expectations of chasing a third series title. Instead it’s been more struggle then celebration for the group.

Lia came into Thursday’s Bud 150 at Thompson International Speedway seventh in the series standings halfway through season with just a pair of fifth place run standings as the team’s only top-five efforts of the year.

“It’s tough,” Lia said. “Tonight, after qualifying, I just sat in the car thinking, shaking my head. After a while every driver, I don’t care who it is, it gets to a point where you’re like ‘Is it me? Did I forget how to do this?’ You just start doubting yourself.”

The question of whether he still had what it took to win was answered for Lia just a few hours later.

Lia, of Jericho, N.Y., rallied, after going a lap down early in the event, to win the Bud 150 at Thompson Speedway Thursday.

It was Lia’s first series victory since Oct. 2009 at Stafford Motor Speedway. Lia won series titles driving for Garbarino in 2007 and 2009 and returned to the team this after running sporadically in the division the last two seasons.

“It feels really really good,” Lia said. “I want to thank Bob Garbarino for sticking with his program and giving us what we need. I love the guy and I’m so happy to win for him.”

Ron Silk of Norwalk edged series points leader Doug Coby of Milford at the line for second place. Ted Christopher, of Plainville, running the Boehler Racing Enterprises car for the injured Keith Rocco, was fourth.

Lia was running second to pole-winner Mike Stefanik when he ducked to the pits under caution on lap 64 with a number of other top-10 cars.

On pit road, it looked as if the hard luck that has bit the team in many events had struck once again for Lia.

“I think they stripped a couple lugs and they couldn’t get a tire off so they decided not to put any on so we wouldn’t get a set out cycle with each other,” Lia said. “It took another two pits stops to come back. Once you have a problem with the lugs it’s a real [pain] to get them off. We were lucky nobody else was a lap down and we got the lucky dog right away.

Lia was back up to fifth by lap 100 and he went past Todd Szegedy for second on lap 109. On lap 129 he went under Silk to take the lead for good.

“That was the little bit of fire that I needed,” Lia said of pit stop issues. “I think my guys did it on purpose because they knew they had to get me fired up. It worked. The guys did a great job.”

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