When the green flag drops on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s season finale – the World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtra Mart – this Sunday at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, the waiting game will finally be over.
Donny Lia took his fourth checkered flag of the season last time out on Oct. 4 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and moved into the championship points lead for the first time this year. The 2007 titlist has little breathing room atop the standings, however, as Ryan Preece crossed the line third that day to sit a mere 26 points out of first.
After a scheduled off week, the 2009 championship was to be settled at Thompson on Oct. 18, but rain and snow forced the event to be postponed. Now with a more promising forecast, the World Series of Speedway Racing looks likely to take the green flag this Sunday, and the Whelen Modified Tour champion will finally be crowned. The three-week layoff has led to heightened anticipation for both title contenders.
“I’m really pumped up and excited to go to Thompson,” Lia said. “It’s been about three weeks since we raced, and it was supposed to be two weeks, so you just get amped up. You want to go to the race track and race. These three weeks off has seemed like forever.”
Preece – like Lia – has avoided getting impatient, but is likewise anticipating returning to the track.
“I’m ready to race,” Preece said. “You get all these people talking about the championship – who they want to win, who wants to win – that kind of deal. You kind of just want it to come, and get it over with. I’m just looking forward to the race, and seeing if we can pull it off.”
While both have not lost sight of the big picture, they intend to bring the same mentality to the track this weekend that they have each and every race this year: race to win.
“You go to every race to win the race,” Preece said. “That’s what you’re paid to do. That’s what we want. We’re definitely going [there] to win the race, and we have the car and the team capable of doing it. I’m definitely going there looking to win the race, and let the points fall wherever they do.”
Although Lia has a points cushion entering the weekend, don’t expect him to ride around on Sunday either.
“You kind of stick to the same principles and same goals, which is to win the race,” Lia said. “We always just go for the win and get the best finish we can. Just take the same approach to it, try to win the race and let everything else fall into place from there.”
Lia can clinch his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour crown in three years by finishing fifth or better at Thompson, but with Preece so close behind, there are a number of scenarios that will make every lap important in the season finale.
The World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtra Mart is scheduled to commence for the Whelen Modified Tour with practice and qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 25. The 150-lap race is set to go green on Sunday, Oct. 25 at approximately 3:30 p.m.