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STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. - As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to Stafford Motor Speedway on May 26 for the 16th annual Connecticut Classic 150, Donny Lia will be among the favorites to capture the Memorial Day Weekend event. Lia has finished in the top-10 in 6 of the last 7 Whelen Modified Tour events at Stafford, with two consecutive second place finishes, including a spectacular finish at the 2005 CARQUEST Fall Final where Lia took the checkered flag on only three wheels after losing a tire coming off the final turn of the race. Lia says he and his Huntington Honda team are looking forward to returning to Stafford.

    "We're definitely looking forward to coming back, Stafford is one of my best tracks," said Lia. "I really like the place, it's a lot of driver, more so than some of the other tracks we race at. It's a technical track, the turns are totally different, I really enjoy it. We've been running well here, I'd love to win any race here at Stafford. We're getting closer, we have a couple second place finishes in a row, another spot here or there and we can win it. I've finished second on three wheels and finished second on four wheels, now it's time to finish one spot better on all four wheels."

    Lia credits his SK Modified® racing experience at Stafford as part of the reason why he has been able to run so well at the Connecticut half-mile. "The SK Modified® experience helped me in general because that's an all-out style of racing," said Lia. "The laps on the racetrack really helped. I think I have more laps here at Stafford than anywhere else we run. I probably have more laps [at Stafford] than at Riverhead, where I started racing, and it shows because this is one of the best tracks that I run at."

    While a sound race strategy and track position are key to winning any Whelen Modified Tour event, a good run in qualifying can have a great impact on the race's outcome, which is an area that Lia and his team have excelled at recently at Stafford. Lia has won six Bud Poles in the last seven Whelen Modified Tour events at Stafford, with Tony Hirschman's pole in last August's N.E. Dodge Dealers 150 the only thing between Lia having seven consecutive Stafford Bud Poles. Another good starting position could be the first step towards Lia recording his first Stafford Whelen Modified Tour victory.

    "I think we have a good shot at winning, it's all about track position and pit strategy, pitting early, not pitting," said Lia. "You just have to put yourself in a spot up front, and let everyone worry about getting around you. It's real hard to pass here, so that's what it's all about. The track is always real slick by the time we get racing and everyone is sliding around during the race. We know we have a good balance; the car is going to drive good, qualify good, and it should race good, it seems that we just back up a little too much from qualifying to the race. If we can just find that little bit extra we need come race time, that's the difference between having 5 poles and 5 wins here. I'd rather have the wins than the poles, but I'll take the poles. It's an accomplishment to be the fastest car, but at the end of the day at Stafford the real money gets paid on lap-150 or lap-200, which ever it may be."

    After only two events during the 2006 season, Lia sits 8th in the Whelen Modified Tour points standings heading into the Connecticut Classic 150. Mike Stefanik, who is the all-time winningest Whelen Modified Tour driver at Stafford with 18 career Stafford victories, will enter the race with the points lead. Making up the next three positions in the 2006 Whelen Modified Tour points standings are all former or current Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified® competitors. Ted Christopher is second, James Civali is third, and Tech-Net Spring Sizzler winner Doug Coby is fourth. Two-time defending Whelen Modified Tour champion Tony Hirschman rounds out the top-5 in the standings.

    Tickets for the 16th annual Connecticut Classic 150 are available and on sale now at the Stafford Motor Speedway box office. Tickets are priced at $30.00 for adult general admission, $5.00 for children 6-14, and children 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is available for $32.00. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking with overnight parking available. The race is also part of Youth Organization Month at SMS, which means that any child age 6-14 wearing a youth organization team shirt or uniform gets free general admission when accompanied by an adult. For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.

LongIslandJam 2006 WMT Season Coverage

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Source: Scott Running/Stafford PR
Posted:  May 19, 2006




















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