LOUDON, N.H. – Donny Lia didn't show any signs of the distractions that typically come along with having a baby.
Lia, whose wife gave birth to the couple's second son on Thursday, posted the fastest lap in the first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour practice session of the weekend today – more than a full mile per hour faster than second-fastest Ron Silk.
“This car has always run good here,” said Lia, a two-time Whelen Modified Tour champion and two-time New Hampshire winner. “We've been making headway the last few races. I'm a little surprised, only because we've been struggling a little bit lately, but if there's a place we're going to run well, it's going to be here.”
Lia, of Jericho, N.Y., posted a fast lap of 29.338 mph (129.825 mph). He was followed on the speed sheet by Silk (129.327 mph) and Ted Christopher (128.702). Bryon Chew and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman rounded out the Top-5.
Immediately after practice, Lia was on the phone with his wife, who is still in the hospital following the baby's birth to check on the health of both mom and baby. He was happy to hear that all is going well.
Thirty-four cars posted speeds. All are expected to start the race.
Heading into the weekend, Lia sits seventh in the Whelen Modified Tour standings with a pair of Top-5 finishes in five races thus far. He won at New Hampshire in both 2007 and 2009.
The only issue in practice belonged to Jon McKennedy in the Hillbilly Racing No. 79. He sputtered to a stop on the track and needed to be pushed into the garage area. Though McKennedy feared a blown engine, it turned out to be a fuel pickup issue and the team was not forced to go to either a backup engine or car.