Dave Sapienza Racing Skipping Whelen Modified Tour Event At Myrtle Beach Speedway

Dave Sapienza (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

The list of regular NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams opting out of the division’s newly added season opening event at Myrtle Beach Speedway on May 30 continued to grow on Monday. 

After mulling over a decision since Friday, and saying early Monday afternoon that he was still in the decision making process, driver/team owner Dave Sapienza told RaceDayCT Monday evening that he has decided not to attend Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour event at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Sapienza’s decision means four of the six teams that won events on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2019 – representing wins in nine of the 16 series events last season – will not be competing in the division’s season opening event at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Sapienza was succinct in his reasoning for the decision on Monday. 

“I don’t like the way they organized it, whether there’s a world crisis or not,” Sapienza told RaceDayCT. “That’s the deal.” 

The event was announced officially by NASCAR on Friday as an addition to the 2020 schedule. The original Whelen Modified Tour 2020 schedule has been essentially torn to shreds due to track shutdowns related to restrictions from the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Sapienza joins the Kevin Stuart Motorsports team with driver Ron Silk and the Danny Watts Racing team with driver Chase Dowling on the list of full-time series teams deciding not to participate in the event. 

Kevin Stuart Motorsports, Danny Watts Racing and Dave Sapienza Racing accounted for five victories over the 16 event schedule for the Whelen Modified Tour in 2019. Ron Silk had three wins for Kevin Stuart Motorsports, Woody Pitkat had a win for Danny Watts Racing before parting ways with the team and Bobby Santos III won the Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway while Sapienza sat out because of a back injury.

The only other teams to win events in 2019 were Mike Smeriglio Racing with driver Doug Coby (four wins), M3 Racing with driver Justin Bonsignore (six wins) and the Goodale Motorsports team with driver Craig Lutz (one win). Mike Smeriglio Racing folded after winning the championship in 2019 with Coby ultimately introducing the new Doug Coby Racing team during the offseason.

Ken Heagy, who started 13 of 16 Whelen Modified Tour events in 2019 for team owner Robert Pollifrone, also announced on Facebook Monday that he would not be competing at Myrtle Beach.

The Myrtle Beach event – which will be a points-earning race for the series – will take place with a purse greatly reduced from what the series typically runs for. The event will pay $4,000 to win. Every finisher from 10th place back through the final running order will earn $500 per position. No fans will be allowed to attend the event and teams will be limited to eight participants entering the track, including driver and team owner.

The Myrtle Beach event was not part of the original 2020 Whelen Modified Tour schedule. Due to restrictions in various areas due to the COVID-19 global pandemic the Whelen Modified Tour has been out of action. Of the first seven events on the 17-race original schedule, six have been postponed indefinitely and one – at Martinsville Speedway – has been cancelled. NASCAR has also already announced the cancellation of the Whelen Modified Tour event that was scheduled for July at Iowa Speedway. 

After the race was officially announced on Friday Sapienza said he was unsure what he would do. 

“I don’t want to be the sour apple,” Sapienza said Friday. “It’s not about the money as much as it is the inconvenience. It does have to do with the money, but it’s more of an inconvenience. They said be ready at any time on two-week’s notice. Well right now you’re not giving us two weeks, you’re giving us seven days. So much for the two week notice.

“I’m more surprised that they don’t have anything in line for race number two. Why rush? If you don’t have something – a contingency plan for round two – who are they appeasing with this race? Are they trying to appease the drivers? Nobody was pushing for a race. Who are they trying to satisfy? We’re only doing it because we love to do it, but it’s almost like they’re forcing our hands. Like they’re saying ‘We did all this for you.’ Ok fine, what’s the next step? Nobody is even discussing it. They haven’t even brought it up.”

Sapienza said Friday he was disappointed that NASCAR officials didn’t have a better dialogue with teams before planning the event. NASCAR first informed team owners of the scheduling of the Myrtle Beach event through a conference call on May 15 and confirmed the event to owners on another conference call Friday morning. 

“I would have rather that they planned it a little better,” Sapienza said Friday. “I wish [car owners] weren’t all muted out of these conference calls. I would like for them, with 30 people on the line, to take a vote or take suggestions. They’re not taking any suggestions from anyone involved.”

Comments

  1. I applaud there actions. As I said in last statement I think the teams should stick together and not let NASCAR force there hand. Actually I said grow some nut a stick up for yourselves 👍

  2. Plugs 2020 says

    I bet Wade Cole would have been going.

  3. Glad to see these top teams decided to stay home. This whole deal was a real slap in the face to all the tour teams. Then to add Wade Cole’s name to the race is just the ultimate insult. Hopefully more teams will join in during the coming days.

  4. Much respect ✊.

    As much as I want to see a mod race, I want far more for all to be safe and take no addition risk whatsoever in doing so. It’s still way too risky.

  5. Saw Dave testing at Stafford today , wonder how much money he made

  6. Elect,
    I’m not speaking for Dave Sapienza, but even in the story published here about his decision not to go to Myrtle Beach, he specifically said his objection to the event in Myrtle Beach wasn’t based in the fact that the purse was reduced. As Dave was quoted saying: “It’s not about the money as much as it is the inconvenience.” Dave was upset that NASCAR promised teams a two week notice on any extended travel and then gave them eight days notice. He was upset that NASCAR could not offer any plan going forward for the series after Myrtle Beach. He also didn’t feel like there was enough dialogue between team owners and NASCAR in planning the event. I would say if you’re a team owner with the series those are legitimate gripes one could have. I get there are some people trying now to point at Sapienza as a hypocrite for spending money to be at Stafford testing on Wednesday, but that’s obviously people looking to whine just to whine and point fingers. Sapienza never said he didn’t want to spend the money to go racing and he never said the purse was the reason why he wasn’t going to go.

  7. Dave spent less/lost less testing at Stafford than he would have netted if he won at Myrtle Beach.

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