Two-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Donny Lia is making his return to the series on April 1 at Virginia’s Richmond Raceway.
The New York native is back after a five-year absence. Thanks to a ride with Boehler Racing Enterprises, he’s running on a limited basis. Lia admits he’s thought about returning, but the timing and situation had to come together.
“I was looking for a no pressure situation where we can go out there and have fun with guys I have known for a long time,” Donny Lia told NASCAR.com. “It just all kind of lined up recently.”
The 43-year-old racer has run in 39 Camping World Truck Series races run over three years.
Lia also has a NASCAR Xfinity Series start to his name from 2009. The racer won titles with the Whelen Modified Tour in 2007 and 2009. Overall, the driver has 17 wins ins 191 Whelen Tour starts.
Soon, Lia will get to shake off the five-year-old rust.
Lia Back Modified Racing After Break For Family, Business
The champion told NASCAR his decision to quit in 2017 was part-family, part-business. A fourth-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2017 also helped his decision.
“Things were just kind of piling up for me. My children were really young at the time, so I just felt like I needed to focus 100 percent on my kids and on work,” Lia told NASCAR.com.
The man said he still has strong feelings about being at home with his family, but things are different today. He admitted to pushing away a few racing opportunities while committing to his family. Now, things are different.
Lia’s ready to get back on track with next month’s Virginia race with a clear head and a good-looking schedule.
While watching a Tour event last year, the racer noticed Boehler Racing Enterprises Ole Blue No. 3 was missing. Donny Lia reached out to team owner Michael Boehler. The two men struck up a conversation before Lia offered his services to Boehler.
“He was like, ‘Hey, if you ever want to talk about doing something, give me a call.’ So it just kind of worked from there,” Boehler told NASCAR.com.
After testing at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts last November, Boehler said Lia was still on the fence about returning. But eventually, things worked out.
Lia Has The Racing Chops To Succeed
This time around, Lia plans on six NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races this year, starting with the upcoming Racing Lovers 150 at Richmond. With rookie Jake Johnson taking some races, Lia hopes to have a few successes this season.
Donny Lia said the .75-mile Richmond track is a bucket list track for him.
“I had some tracks that I really always wanted to race at,” the racer told NASCAR.com. “Richmond was always one of them,” Lia said. “It’s probably one of the reasons I’m even coming back.”
Look for Lia at Tour stop at Pennsylvania’s Jennerstown Speedway on May 28, New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Aug. 17. He’ll head back to Thompson for the fall on Oct. 8 and Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 27.