Back Again: Healthy Dave Sapienza Ready To Defend Turkey Derby Win At Wall Stadium

Dave Sapienza (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Wall Stadium. 

For NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver it’s a racing facility that over the last 12 months has served as a place for massive celebration of victory and painful separation from racing. 

Sapienza won the 2018 Turkey Derby last November at the Wall Township, N.J. track. 

But it was the return for the Whelen Modified Tour to the track in May that knocked Sapienza out from behind the wheel. A last lap wreck coming the checkered flag of the Modified Tour Jersey Shore 150 on May 21 left Sapienza in recovery for months with a broken back. 

So Saturday’s return to Wall Stadium is part exorcising away the memories of May and defending last year’s win for the Riverhead, N.Y. driver. 

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Sapienza said. “I just want to qualify well and use my head again and not get caught up anybody else’s demise. I’m going to have to play it smart. That’s just the best thing to do there.” 

Last year Matt Hirschman and Jimmy Blewett were pacing the field before tangling in a battle for the lead with about 30 laps to go. Their issues handed Sapienza the lead and he went on to defend that lead the rest of the way for his first Turkey Derby win. 

Afterward Sapienza even got to revel in enjoying the haters.

“I remember reading something on a [social media] post,” Sapienza said. “This stupid – I don’t have to tell how stupid people are – but this [expletive expletive] tells this lady ‘He wouldn’t have won, but Jimmy took out and Matt and they both got sent to the rear.’ Basically he said I didn’t really win legitimately. I went from seventh to third and I rode in third because I knew I had a good car. I knew the best thing to do was stay behind Jimmy until the last lap. This guy wrote that if Jimmy didn’t take out Hirschman I wouldn’t have won. And I wrote a message and said ‘You’re absolutely right guy. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to cut the [expletive] trophy in half. I’m going to give half to Matt and half to Jimmy and I’m going to give the money to them too. You’re absolutely right you [expletive expletive].” He took his post down that after that. 

“Whatever anyone wants to say, I happened to be at the right place at the right time or whatever, but I still had to the other 30 laps of green and defend first place through multiple cautions.” 

With a fully recovered back Sapienza is looking forward to closing the 2019 season at Wall and is already in full prepration for the 2020 Whelen Modified Tour season. 

While he recovered from injury in 2019 Sapienza had Bobby Santos III driving his car in selected Whelen Modified Tour events. Santos won the Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, giving Sapienza his first victory as a team owner. 

Sapienza said the relationship will continue for 2020 with a second part-time car for Santos in the Dave Sapienza Racing stable. 

“I’m going to have Bobby back next year,” Sapienza said. “He’s going to run my car at least a half a dozen times. But I’m in, full tilt. I’m all ready. We’re ready to roll.” 

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  1. Glad to hear Dave is good to go! Also glad to hear Bobby has a part-time seat! Best of luck this this weekend to the 36 team!

  2. Richard Reeve says

    Good luck Dave. Miss seeing the mods race. I watched a race from Riverhead on TV (I’m living in TN). It would have been so much better if they had better sound. The broadcast just doesn’t do the mods justice without hearing the thunder!

  3. GOOD LUCK Dave Sapienza. Great to have you back behind the wheel. Don’t forget your lucky Calvin Kliens LOL. In all seriousness hope you are indeed fully healed, it would suck if you had to give up the seat again. Go out there and kick ass my friend, knowing there are allot of fans glad your back. Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless.

  4. Of course, good luck in the race Saturday.
    Isn’t the bigger news running a second car for Santos in selected races? Santos isn’t going to be interested in trying his best with a backup car is he? It’s gonna be a good car from the “Sapienza racing stable”. This is the opposite of the 16 and 2 car loses and a welcome expansion at first blush.
    This is interesting but what they bring down to New Smyrna in February will be interesting as well.

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