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STAFFORD, Conn. – Donny Lia earned his 18th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award Saturday at Stafford Motor Speedway in advance of the CARQUEST Fall Final 150.
Lia, from Jericho, N.Y., recorded a fast lap of 18.295 seconds (98.388 mph) to edge Bobby Santos for the pole. Santos, who was attempting to become the first driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to sweep a season of pole awards at Stafford, finished with a fast lap of 18.299 (98.366).
Season points leader Ryan Preece qualified third around the historic half mile at 18.413 (97.757) while Rowan Pennink was fourth at 18.426 (97.688) and Chuck Hossfeld fifth at 18.430 (97.667).
Todd Szegedy, Justin Bonsignore, Bryon Chew, Doug Coby and Cole Powell rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.
It was the second pole of the season for Lia, following his previous top-qualifying effort at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 21, and the eighth in his 36 career Whelen Modified Tour races at Stafford.
Santos had won the pole in the tour’s first three trips to Stafford this season. In coming up just short of the season sweep today, he’ll have to settle for being one of just four drivers that have earned three of four at the track in the 29-year history of the Whelen Modified Tour.
Coincidentally, Lia is also a member of that select group – he did it in 2005.
Ryan Preece, who brings in a 41-point lead in the season standings on the reigning champion Coby, will have a chance to clinch the 2013 championship tomorrow at Stafford. If Preece is able to gain seven points on Coby – by finishing position and potential bonus points – then the 22-year-old will secure his first Whelen Modified Tour title with one race to go on the schedule.
The CARQUEST Fall Final 150 is slated to take the green flag on Sunday at approximately 3:15 p.m.