The third-place starting spot Dave Sapienza earned for the Fall Final is about a whole lot more than a good weekend. It may very well determine whether he returns to the Whelen Modified Tour in 2019.
After garnering three top-10 finishes in the season’s first five races, Sapienza has admittedly struggled. In the nine races since his fifth-place effort in the Thompson 125, he has finished inside the top-10 only three times.
“I was starting to kick myself in the ass,” said Sapienza of the lack of results this season. “A lot of people were like ‘you’re getting too old.’ I was getting down on myself.”
So severe were the struggles, Sapienza had almost resigned himself to walking away from the Tour after the conclusion of the 2018 season.
“Today was the day,” Sapienza said. “If I didn’t do good here today, my racing career was over. I was selling everything… It’s a lot of money. It’s a big risk.”
Why is Stafford such a make-or-break race for Sapienza? This is the first race he’s in the equipment that has dominated the Tour this season: LFR Chassis.
After a frustrating 13th-place effort at Loudon, one of his best tracks, Sapienza made the decision to switch from Troyer to LFR for the final two races of 2018.
“I talked to Robby Fuller at LFR when we were in Loudon,” said Sapienza of the swap. “We talked about putting a car together. He’d been after me for a few years. Monday morning, I say ‘Let’s do it.’ So we bought an LFR… The proof is in the pudding. I got a lot of good equipment. I can’t knock Troyer equipment, but these things are just a little more advanced.”
While Sapienza struggled a bit in practice, the results in qualifying were reassuring. It was the first time he has ever qualified inside the top-five at Stafford.
“When it came time for group qualifying, it was balls to the walls, baby,” Sapienza said of his third-place starting spot. “Coming into Stafford I usually don’t run this well… If this works out, just to qualify this good here, I feel good about the upcoming season,” he concluded. “If this works out for here and Thompson, I’m probably going to get another LFR car. So we’re going to run another year next year.”
In the span of less than a week, Dave Sapienza has gotten his mojo back. Getting his first career win at Stafford tomorrow is going to be his toughest challenge yet.