Lia Returns To Whelen Modifieds

2007 Champion Will Reunite With Garbarino and ‘Mystic Missile’ Team for 2009 Campaign

Donny Lia, who captured the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in his first and only season in the famed ‘Mystic Missile,’ will return to the team for another title run in 2009.

Bob Garbarino, who got his first championship ring after 47 years as a Modified team owner with Lia at the helm of his No. 4 Dodge in 2007, announced today that he will bring back the Jericho, N.Y., native for the upcoming 14-race schedule.

“Because of our past experience, we’re very comfortable with having Donny Lia back behind the wheel and I think he feels the same way,” Garbarino said. “We’re expecting good results and we’re going to give it the best try we can.”

Lia echoed the comments of his car owner when asked about his expectations for 2009.

“We’ve got a great relationship, and I don’t see why we won’t be able to proceed like we did when we raced together back in 2007,” Lia said. “It’s really a great team and a great group of people to work with so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Lia’s first partnership with Garbarino produced the best season of either’s career in racing. Lia brought five wins and four years of full-time experience to the ‘Mystic Missile’ for the 2007, but he had never finished in the top five in the points standings. The pairing produced instant success as the No. 4 found Victory Lane in five of the first eight races to take a commanding grip on the title chase. Lia wound up with six wins and 13 top 10s in 16 starts.

After earning the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour crown, Lia moved on to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2008, where he made a combined 22 starts with TRG Motorsports and Randy Moss Motorsports. Lia became the first rookie to win a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since 2003 when he took the checkered flag at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park in May. He finished 18th in the season standings with four top 10s.

Lia rejoined the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour twice in 2008. He drove his own No. 18 car to a third-place finish at his home track, Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, in August. At New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, he started in the H&H Motorsports No. 96 Modified, but after an early accident he wound up substituting for Rob Summers in the No. 1 car and drove it to a fourth-place finish.

Lia, who will enter 2009 with 11 wins, 43 top 10s and 13 poles in 97 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts, is glad to be back with Garbarino and the series.

“I’m really excited to come back,” Lia said. “I missed the Modifieds, I always did. We’ll go for an another championship with Bob, which is what I really wanted to do, while at the same time run a limited number of races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which is something I wanted to do this year too.”

In addition to coming back to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour full-time in 2009, Lia hopes to also run as many as 10 races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Lia’s return to the ‘Mystic Missile’ follows Chuck Hossfeld’s second tenure in the seat. Hossfeld drove for Garbarino from 2002-04 and registered two wins and a fourth-place finish in the standings in his return to the team in 2008.

The 25th Anniversary season of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will begin with the Icebreaker at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on Sunday, April 5.

Sources: Jason Cunningham/NASCAR WMT PR

February 2009
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