LIA GRABS ANOTHER WIN AMONG TUESDAY WRECKFEST by Jeremy Troiano
Many Big Guns Taken Out By Multi-Car Accident Early
Donny Lia is in about the same position at Florida Speedweeks he was last year at this point in the week. His #18 LMI Motorsports modified was fast every single night and was always running up front.
But the results have been very different. Last year, Lia was always running into some bad luck. An accident here and a broken part there always seemed to keep him from earning victories.
Donny Lia picked up his second win of Speedweeks on Tuesday. (Howie Hodge Photo)
This year though, things are working for Donny instead of against him… especially in the luck department.
Luck was on Donny’s side on Tuesday night. Starting third, Lia survived not one, but two early restarts that collected cars right on front of him en route to his second-straight Speedweeks victory.
That’s not to say that the win came easy for Donny, but following the lap two accident after the restart, things were just a little bit easier.
Kevin Goodale and Jimmy Blewett started on the front row. To start the race, Blewett went around in turn one. But since a lap wasn’t completed, there was a complete restart. Goodale got the jump the second start, but as the field roared down into turn one after completing the first lap, al hell broke loose.
Both Goodale and Blewett went spinning. Behind them, several cars piled in. When all was said and done, Ted Christopher, John Blewett, Chuck Hossfeld, Eric Beers, Zach Sylvester, Ryan Preese and several others found themselves waded up in turn one..
Somehow, Donny Lia was able to sneak through the mess, which was triggered by a bunch of oil on the track laid down by Rob Summers.
Without his major competition chasing him down, Lia cruised on to the win, leading every lap from there on out.
“It was just a matter of staying out of trouble tonight,” said Lia. “Those guys were out there out of freaking control. The only lap that we ever completed with the 58 (Goodale) and 12 (Jimmy Blewett) in front of me, they were just killing each other. The next lap, all hell broke loose. I don’t know if he just went in the corner and spun out or what. I didn’t feel any oil, but I heard there was some on the track.”
There was plenty of oil on the track. And with all the oil, Lia was luck to get through it all clean.
“I was just lucky tonight. I guess right now, luck is on our side. I’ll ride it for as long as I can. It isn’t every day that you can be in victory lane two nights in a row. It is the first time in my career ever. I am pretty happy right now.
“Maybe we paid our dues last year. Maybe it is given back to us, because we gave away quite a few down here last year. I was worried we might give tonight’s away because of fuel. We were out there for so long. You just never know. I was nervous. I kept thinking that any minute, we were going to run out of fuel.”
Even though Lia was lucky enough to make it through the
Lia (#18) sneaks under the spinning cars of Jimmy Blewett (#12) and Kevin Goodale. (51 Photo)
second-lap melee, his car was still dominant enough to keep ahead of the rest of the field, which wasn’t going to lay down and just settle for second on back.
“We are still working on this car. It will get better as the week goes. We are just running with some luck on our side now. One of these days, we’ll be good and lucky, and then we’ll be complete. But right now, I’ll take it how I can get it.
“I said it last night and I’ll say it again; I got he best group of guys I’ve ever, ever worked with. They are awesome. Once we get the entire race car figured out and we get some systems going, I think we’ll be really really good. I think we are good right now, but I think we can get a lot better.”
That could be bad news for the rest of the Modified field.
NIGHT FIVE NOTES: MODS
THE BIG ONE’S FALL OUT
It happens at some point every year during Modified action at Speedweeks.
“The big one;” the big accident that takes out several big name drivers, just like what happens at Daytona just a few miles north of New Smyrna every year.
This year, it came on night five.
“I guess Robbie Summers blew an oil line and oiled up the track,” said Jimmy Blewett, the night’s quick qualifier and one of the first to get taken out in the accident. “I guess no one called it or could see it. It was just racing. What can you do?
“Going into one, there was nothing you can do. The thing just took off. I was going faster into the fence than I was on the straightaway. There is nothing you can do. It has been total bad luck and total chaos. I just feel bad for everyone who puts all their work into this thing.”
Eric Beers was also involved. He was able to make a couple of more laps after the wreck, but retired just a few laps later. Beers was mad that all of the drivers involved in the first accident, the one before the ‘big one’ happened, were given their starting spots back for the complete restart that eventually led to the big accident.
“We got the green and got into one and a whole bunch of cars spun out,” said Beers. “They threw the caution for the wreck and they let all five or six cars that were involved in the wreck back in their spots. That’s ridiculous. Once the green’s thrown then the race has started and you can’t have a complete restart. They have to put those guys at the back of the field. If you’re involved in a wreck then you’re involved in a wreck and you don’t get your spot back.
“Then Robby blew a motor down the frontstretch and there’s oil all over the track and they don’t throw the caution? It ended up destroying four good cars. Maybe whoever’s directing these races needs another guy up there in the tower or flagstand or wherever. I know it’s hard to see the whole track the whole time but when a guy blows up and drops oil all over the track it’s not that hard to notice and throw the caution. That wouldn’t happen anywhere but here.”
Maybe the biggest loser in the whole deal was Chuck Hossfeld. Hossfeld, who was leading the points coming into the night after a first and second in the previous two nights, was another innocent victim. Hossfeld was able to continue a run a few laps, but his 15th-place finish will hurt his championship hopes.
“Somebody blew up and when he did, he laid oil and water down and that was the reason for the wreck,” said Hossfeld. “Everyone was slipping around when they got there and it ruined a lot of guys’ nights. I don’t know how they don’t throw the caution when someone blows up like that.
“It cost a lot of cars and a lot of work and a lot of money.”
Both John Blewett and Preese were also upset.
“Robbie Summers blew up on the start and he must have coated the entire turn down with water because everyone just piled in behind one another on the next lap,” said John Blewett. “It was like someone threw a can of marbles out there. There was nothing I could do except lock ‘em up and hope that no one plows into the back of you.”
“I saw a lot of oil on the track and they didn’t call it I guess,” said Preese. “I got on the brakes and slid out. I thought it was just cold tires. When I got into one and two, it went straight into the wall. Everyone just went into the turn and we all went straight toward the wall. That isn’t very safe. I got on the brakes and saw myself going forward. I tired to let off, but it didn’t really work much
“I figured we’d go 10-15 laps before our first caution. I was just going to wait around. I was really hoping to come out of here with a top-five tonight. Things happen.”
CRASH BENEFITS OTHERS
There are always two sides to “the big one.” Just ask Chris Pasteryak and Mike Andrews Jr.
Both drivers made it through the big accident clean and both were able to come away with podium finishes on night five.
“It is better to be lucky than good,” said Pasteryak. “Tonight we were lucky. I guess Rob (Summers) blew a transmission on the start there and I just happened to be a little bit lower than everyone else. Everyone hit the grease and went into the fence. There were some of us that missed it and we all finished.
Chris Pasteryak (#5) runs in practice.
There were a number of big names taken out in this accident on Tuesday night. (51 Photo)
“I’m normally waiting for it to happen to me. I don’t think I’m a whole lot better than anyone else. It was just lucky. We weren’t going really great, but we finished. We have a second in our third night here. That isn’t too bad.”
Mike Andrews Jr., who is subbing for Mike Ewanitsko, was able to keep clean and come home third.
“Tonight, these guys were just a little rambunctious,” said Andrews. “We just tried to stay out of the way. That is really important. Look where we ended up; third. That is fine with me. It was rough out there. Everyone comes out here to race every night, but you have to try and save yourself for the end of the week. Luckily enough, we weren’t involved in that first wreck other than taking the front bumper out. That is how we do it every day.”
Zach Sylvester (top, Howie Hodge Photo) and Ryan Preese (bottm, Jim DuPont photo) were two others taken out in the big accident.
- Bobby Grigas III was invovled in a scary accident on Tuesday during practice. The #89 of Todd Burley got into the wall coming out of turn two. As the rest of the cars on the track came out of two, they checked up and moved down low. As Grigas came out of two, he had no where to go and dove low. Unfortunatly, he went too low and ended up slamming head on into a wall that protects the infield pits from the track and the turn-two crossover. Grigas got out of the car under his own power, but eventually went to the hospital to get checked out. The team says they are going to try and fix the car.
Bobby Grigas' car was heavily damaged.
- Jimmy Blewett was the fastest qualifier for the Mods on Tuesday. Donny Lia was second.
- Jimmy Blewett won the SK Modified race Tuesday. He was followed to the line by John Jensen and Billy Anderson.