Team Has Earned Two Tour Titles With Long Islander
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s hard to argue with history, and in 2012 a pairing that is already two-for-two, will give it a go at another NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title.
Bob Garbarino, owner of the Mystic Missile Racing No. 4 Dodge, announced today that driver Donny Lia will return behind the wheel for a third season with the team. Lia piloted the “Mystic Missile” to the Whelen Modified Tour championship in each of his two previous years with the team in 2007 and 2009.
“These decisions are never easy, but when I look at everybody that is involved, and the team itself, I think that this is just the best fit for us at this point in time,” Garbarino said of Lia returning to the team.
Lia, from Jericho, N.Y., has compiled 15 wins, 15 poles and 55 top 10s in 113 career Whelen Modified Tour starts. Ten of those wins and 24 of the top-10 finishes came in 29 starts with Mystic Missile Racing during the two years they previously teamed up.
In both instances following his Whelen Modified Tour championship runs, Lia left the No. 4 team for opportunities in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2008 and 2010, where he posted a win and four top 10s in 39 starts. In 2011 he mostly stepped away from the racing scene, with four combined appearances between the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours.
Mystic Missile Racing earned a third Whelen Modified Tour title in 2010 with Bobby Santos behind the wheel, who Lia will succeed for the coming season. Santos finished eighth in points a year ago and compiled five wins and 18 top 10s in 30 starts during his stint with the team.
“I think we go into this with our eyes wide open,” Garbarino said. “We’ve had a lot of success with Bobby and we’ve had a lot of success with Donny, so I think our success level shouldn’t go down.”
The crew chief for each of the three titles earned by Lia and Santos was Bob Mueller, who announced at the conclusion of the 2011 season that he would retire from those duties. Garbarino said that he has yet to name Mueller’s successor.
The Mystic Missile Racing team will launch its third season with Lia at the controls at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on April 15 as part of Icebreaker weekend.
Sources: Jason Cunningham/NASCAR WMT PR