Donny Lia Wins Pole In Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 Qualifying At Waterford

Donny Lia (Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Donny Lia (Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images for NASCAR)

WATERFORD – The fast way around the New London-Waterford Speedbowl is the way Donny Lia clearly knows best.

After setting fast time in practice earlier today, Lia won the pole in time trial qualifying for tonight’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 at Waterford.

It was the second consecutive pole in the Mr. Rooter 161 for Lia, of Jericho, N.Y. Lia finished second to Bobby Santos III in last year’s event at Waterford.

Lia toured the .375-mile oval with a fast lap of 13.965 seconds (96.670 mph).

It was the 21st career series pole for Lia.

Keith Rocco of Wallingford, making his first start as the full-time driver for Our Motorsports, was second in qualifying with a fast lap of 13.975 seconds (96.601 mph).

Rocco took over the Our Motorsports ride – then on an interim basis – prior to the running of the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 26, the most previous Whelen Modified Tour event. Soon after he was named as the full-time replacement for previous driver Tommy Barrett Jr.

Timmy Solomito of Islip, N.Y. was third fastest in qualifying at 14.004 seconds (96.401 mph).

Doug Coby of Milford, the 2012 winner of the Mr. Rooter 161 was fourth fastest (14.025 seconds, 96.257 mph). Todd Szegedy was fifth fastest (14.075 seconds, 95.915 mph). Ryan Preece, the 2013 Mr. Rooter 161 winner, was sixth fastest (14.099 seconds, 95.751 mph). Santos will start 11th.


  1. I’ve got a real problem with NASCAR allowing all 33 cars to start, specifically when the 33rd car – the 01 of Fifield – runs a 15.846 compared to a 13.965 for Lia. That’s almost 2 seconds a lap slower!!! On a 3/8s mile bullring, with 33 cars?! Downright dangerous, IMHO.

    Quick math says the leaders will lap the 01 by about lap 7, +/- a lap.

    And the 32nd fastest car – the 26 – qualified at 14.74 – more than a second faster than the 01! i don’t mean to pick on the 01 team, but my God, NASCAR, you have to do something about that!

  2. Well, Per the coverage over at

    Lap 7: Lia and Rocco are nose-to-tail up front as they put Melissa Fifield one lap down. “

  3. Crazy in NY says

    I highly doubt that NASCAR in this PC age and their optics on all things in that regard are
    going to deny a woman, the only one in NASCAR Modified racing, a spot in the field when they
    have less than a full one. For sure she’s” in the way ” in many eyes but that view isn’t going to get her on the sidelines. The family has the money, they bring a legal car so who is going keep her away?

  4. JR,
    It was actually lap nine that Lia actually passed her to put her a lap down.

  5. Shawn – Thanks! I just went with what had, being I couldn’t make it to the track tonight.

    Crazy in NY – Valid points. I by, no means, am bringing gender into this. I’d be saying the same thing if it was Joe or Jane Schmo or whomever if they had lap times that far behind the pole AS WELL AS the next slowest car.

    What struck me as odd was that most of the time, it seems that the fields are limited to 26 or 28 with 1-2 provisionals (which, there was a good chance the 01 would have made it on a provisional anyway). So, the 33 cars on a 3/8ths mile track was kind of an eyebrow raiser to me.

    My thought is lapped cars, while a part of short track racing, are not something you want to see playing into a race within the first 10 laps – and with a car that is running lap times that are 15% slower – which, using dirty math is almost 15 mph slower – and on a bullring! To equate that to everyday driving, that’s the same as someone driving 65 mph on Rt 2 getting passed by someone driving 75 mph. Now throw a 180 degree turn in there every 500 feet and you get a sense of where my concerns came from.

    i’m glad it did not play a factor tonight, and i hope i am wrong and it never will. But if it does become a factor someday, the static surrounding it will be loud is my bet.

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