Lady Luck Rides With Donny Lia Again at Stafford by Amie Campbell
New Team/Driver Pairing Working Out Well, Especially at SMS
Only four races into the 2007 season, the Lia/Mystic Missle match-up is proving to be a formidable one.  A rejuvenated driver is having fun and doesn’t have to worry about maintaining the cars while Bob and Joan Garbarino are seeing their car consistently running at or near the front of the pack.

“I’ve got to thank Bob and Joan Garbarino," said Lia.  "That whole crew is making it real fun to come to these races now.   It’s less stressful for me just being a driver.  Maybe the focus that I’m able to add to that is helping.  But, it’s the whole deal; every piece of the equation is really good right now, so we’re just riding it out.”

Much like his victory at the Sizzler, Lia had to rely on some good fortune in order to emerge on top.  With Eric Beers leading with fewer than 40 to go, he would spin out in front of the pack, leaving Lia and the rest of the field to take evasive action and hope for the best.

“I thought he was going to get me in the right rear,” said Lia. “That was the race right there.”

Lia’s biggest threat, especially towards the end, came in the form of James Civali, who never ran outside of the top-5 the entire race. Civali was the only car who could even stay with Lia as the laps trailed down, but no matter how he tried, he just couldn’t get past Lia. 

“I started to run down Lia at the end but ran out of tire and ran out of time,” said Civali. “Even if we got to him I don’t think we could have done much with him.”
Donny Lia is now two-for-two at Stafford this year.  (Jim DuPont Photos)
For five years, Donny Lia couldn’t buy a break at Stafford Motor Speedway.  He’d qualify well and start up front, but for a variety of reasons the finishes just weren’t there.  Lia finally broke through at Stafford in the Spring Sizzler in April and enjoyed himself so much he decided to visit victory lane again Friday night, winning the Connecticut Classic 150.
Lia meanwhile kept circling back to two distinctive, but related themes.
“I don’t know if I paid my dues here, but the track is giving back and we’ve had a lot of luck,” said Lia.  “We had a lot of luck at the Sizzler – there were a couple of times we could have been out of that race, and we had some luck tonight.

“We had a good car.  As long as the luck stays on our side we’ll be in good shape.   The guys haven’t failed me and I haven’t failed them, and I know they’re going to give me a good car every week.  It’s just a matter of me not doing anything stupid out there, to not make any mistakes.  It just feels great to win now, again.  When you win, you never know when you’re going to win again. So we won recently and now we won again and it’s just a lot of fun.”

Lia and the rest of the Whelen Modified Tour get an almost month-long break before returning to action on Thursday, June 21st at Thompson International Speedway.

Connecticut Classic 150 Results
Stafford Motor Speedway
Stafford Springs, CT
Lap length: 0.5 miles
(Start position in parentheses)

1. (6) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Dodge, 150 laps, 58.568 mph, $7,200.
2. (1) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $4,000.
3. (7) Eddie Flemke, Southington, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $3,200.
4. (15) Zach Sylvester, Lebanon, Conn., Pontiac, 150, $3,300.
5. (4) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Ford, 150, $2,700.
6. (9) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Dodge, 150, $1,950.
7. (17) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Ford, 150, $1,850.
8. (25) Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater, Mass., Chevrolet, 150, $2,050.
9. (30) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass., Chevrolet, 150, $2,200.
10. (16) Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 150, $1,950.
11. (12) Ryan Preece, Kensington, CT, Chevrolet, 150, $1,500.
12. (27) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Chevrolet, 150, $2,575.
13. (18) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 150, $1,800.
14. (19) Eric Berndt, Rocky Hill, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $1,075.
15. (26) Ron Yuhas, Groton, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $1,450.
16. (24) Glen Tyler, Hampton Bays, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150, $1,025.
17. (31) Danny Sammons, Trenton, N.J., Chevrolet, 150, $1,400.
18. (8) Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook, Conn., Chevrolet, 148, $1,775.
19. (10) Bobby Grigas, Marshfield, MA, Chevrolet, 147, suspension, $1,650.
20. (28) Billy Pauch, Jr., Frenchtown, N.J., Dodge, 146, $1,725.
21. (2) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 139, $1,600.
22. (22) Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn., Chevrolet, 128, suspension, $1,275.
23. (20) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., Chevrolet, 122, accident, $850.
24. (5) Tony Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 114, accident, $1,275.
25. (29) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, NY, Chevrolet, 105, accident, $1,075.
26. (11) Reggie Ruggiero, Rocky Hill, Conn., Chevrolet, 104, accident, $1,464.
27. (13) John Blewett, III, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 104, accident, $1,450.
28. (3) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 91, accident, $1,550.
29. (14) Frank Ruocco, Cheshire, Conn., Pontiac, 91, accident, $750.
30. (21) Rick Fuller, Auburn, Mass., Chevrolet, 48, engine, $1,150.
31. (23) Chuck Hossfeld, Buffalo, N.Y., Pontiac, 31, accident, $1,450.

Lia (#4) had to hold off Todd Szegedy (#2) early before checking out to victory.