Broken Back To Keep Dave Sapienza Out Of Whelen Mod Tour Action Until At Least September

Dave Sapienza (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Dave Sapienza is always one quick with the funny lines. 

And even despite facing the reality of a 10-week recovery thanks to a broken back, Sapienza was still in a joking mood Thursday afternoon. 

Sapienza sustained his back injury in a last lap crash during Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour Jersey Shore 150 at Wall Stadium in Wall, N.J. Sapienza joked Thursday that he was coming back from The War at the Jersey Shore.

Sapienza confirmed to RaceDayCT that he fractured his L-1 and L-2 vertebra Saturday. 

“It’s a clean break where it’s a straight break,” Sapienza told RaceDayCT. “None of my vertebrae is out of alignment. I don’t really have any compression fractures, nothing like that.” 

Sapienza said he called former Whelen Modified Tour driver Rowan Pennink Wednesday for some advice on dealing with the injury. 

Pennink had a similar back injury in 2017 that eventually led to him making the decision to retire from racing last year. 

“He’s a pretty sharp guy,” Sapienza said. “His injury was a little bit different. He was good to talk to with everything he’s been through.”

Sapienza’s doctor’s have told him he should stay out of the car for at least 8-10 weeks. 

“I’m not sure if I’m going to sit out the whole season or not,” Sapienza said. “I’m kind of bummed out. But I’m going to have some fun and we’ll make the best of it.” 

Sapienza’s team will sit out the June 1 event at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway. The team will return to action with Burt Myers behind the wheel for the Thompson 125 on June 5 at Thompson Speedway. 

Sapienza said he will likely announce another driver next week to run his car for other selected events while he recovers. 

A wreck filled night at Wall Stadium came to an ugly end for Sapienza after taking the checkered flag. 

A full-contact battle for third place over the closing lap between Sapienza and Timmy Catalano ended with the pair crashing across the finish line and Sapienza’s car then hitting head-on with an infield wall just past the start/finish line on the inside of the track. Catalano ended up being scored fourth and Sapienza fifth. 

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  1. Don’t be dumb. Forget this year. Give it until early 2020 and reassess. And while you’re recovering don’t be working on the car either.

  2. Have to echo Doug’s statement. A year of not racing totally ouweighs what could happen if he gets back in the car not totally healed. Plus Dave, think of all the money you’ll save. But seriously take the time now. If your sponsors are committed they’ll understand, and be there when your ready to return.

  3. Enfield Mod fan says

    Dave… stay out long enough to heal and don’t rush it. Rowan may have rushed and now he’s greatly missed

  4. Crazy in NY says

    At the risk of being prickly let me say I wonder if Dave looks at the video and says to himself…. If….
    If only I hadn’t dive bombed to 45 I wouldn’t have hooked him and slammed that inside wall and the ensuing sudden stop. A totally stupid move in my opinion and not needed at all Your fault Dave nobody else. Of course I hope you are on the mend to good health and a return to action ASAP.

  5. Crazy,
    Not for nothing, but to me this comment is the equivalent of going to the wake for a teenager killed because he was texting while driving, getting to the front of the line at the casket and telling his mother: “My condolences, but too bad he couldn’t put his phone down, and now because he was an idiot we all have to be at this stupid funeral home.”
    Not that I don’t think being bold and blunt is good, but sometimes maybe there’s a better place for it.

  6. Crazy, I’m amazed NASCAR allowed a race at Wall. That blunt infield wall was begging to eat a car in an accident like that. And all those people standing there was shocking. There should have been a few sand buckets in front of that wall, in front of that entire infield opening.

    Back in the day, the infields were fully loaded at tracks with no protection. Islip speedway comes to mind. At the big events, the infield was full of people, tires, and all sorts of equipment, no walls, no barriers, no protection. Look at the old pictures, it was crazy. Look at how *most* tracks today, the itty bitty bullrings, have an empty infield. I was stunned that NASCAR allowed Wall to run like that.

    That infield opening and blunt wall will be addressed before there is ever another NWMT race at Wall again.

  7. Crazy in NY says

    Ok Shawn I get your point (don’t agree) but Dave didn’t die and I said nothing to his family. I posed it as a question to contemplate the incident. The word stupid I’ll bet is what triggered you but had he walked away from that unharmed that word would not have drawn your ire. Maybe a better word would have been ..unfortunate..or unnecessary so I could have chosen a “friendlier ” word OK.. but that too often
    dive bomb move that NASCAR doesn’t police is going to continue to put people in harms way IMHO.

  8. Crazy, come up with the rule to enforce that would protect from the dive bomb move. Go ahead, write it up so it can be codified. Then explain how to enforce it.


  9. Crazy in NY says

    Dareal ( I can’t believe I’m actually trying to explain something to you) If you went to races other than the Tour you might see a rough riding call or two made by officials. Happens all the time. Ask Scott Wylie on the ROC, ask Sammy Rameau at Claremont last Sunday. Now the Sapienza/ Tim Cat deal happened on the last lap so dealing with it in that case would be difficult but fines and suspensions for the blatant stuff would help cure it. Nobody wants to make judgement calls on the Tour it seems when it comes to that stuff.

  10. Crazy, Wall was an anomaly when compared to recent Tour seasons.

    Crazy, look at the carnage that TC caused. Nothing was done to attenuate that. The reputation TC has as a one man wrecking ball is legendary. ***LEGENDARY*** It was his draw, there is a large contingency of fans that LOVE to see the wrecking. How many other cars was TC going to waste on his way to win or bust? TC filled that customer desire. We’d be sitting at the hauler before NWMT races, listening to the PA system call a SK/Sunoco mod race, and when we heard TC was in a wreck in the SK race, we’d act like we were shocked and laugh our butts off. And it gets even better when TC would say in the post race interview that he’s the victim, he’s the one getting wrecked. Post race in the pits was pretty funny… sometimes the wrecked cars would use a marker and write “TC was here” on the damage where he hit them. TC had his “Three tap rule”, used it, bragged about it, and nothing was done to stop it. If one is allowed, all are allowed.

    Crazy, a real cost improvement would be to call penalties for rough driving. Let’s face it, TC cost fortunes to his car owners and many other owners, and then the impact of all the yellow and red flags. Last lap incidents would be tough calls, gloves come off on the last lap. The penalties would have to have bite, such as drive through penalties, hold cars on pit lane for a lap or more, points deductions, etc. And then penalize the whiners for whining about being penalized.

    Wrecking does not seem to be as bad on the Tour as in recent years. Outright wrecking does not seem to be too bad. Incidents are minor, usually single car spins, minor tussles, and most cars drive away. This Wall Stadium event was an extreme anomaly when considered with respect to recent Tour seasons.

    Keep in mind that NASCAR wants and needs cautions to bunch the cars up again. There is a trigger finger on the yellow flag the last few seasons. Parity is worse now more than ever. As the Tour moves closer and closer to being an IROC SPEC series, parity is strangely 😮 getting worse and worse, and the cars stretch out with reduced racing and passing.

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