Dave Sapienza Suspended By NASCAR For Actions During Whelen Mod Tour Event At Martinsville

Dave Sapienza gestures toward Kyle Bonsignore after a crash during last week’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Martinsville Speedway (Photo: NASCAR Track Pass video)

RaceDayCT learned exclusively Tuesday that Whelen Modified Tour driver Dave Sapienza has been suspended by NASCAR for his actions on track after he was involved in a crash during the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200 on April 8.

NASCAR did not publicly announce the penalty, but both Sapienza and Whelen Modified Tour series director Jimmy Wilson confirmed the suspension to RaceDayCT.

Sapienza wrecked after contact with Kyle Bonsignore on lap 32 of last week’s season opening event for the Whelen Modified Tour at Martinsville.

Sapienza said he was informed by Wilson Tuesday that he was being suspended, fined and put on probation for his actions following the crash.

After the crash Sapienza got out of his car after track officials reached the area of the crash. While the field came around the track under caution Sapienza took two steps away from safety officials and gestured toward Bonsignore as he drove by under caution. 

Wilson said by text Tuesday of the incident: “He was issued a penalty for violating the post incident procedure where he walked towards the line of oncoming traffic instead of proceeding with the safety personnel/officials to the ambulance. Issued a fine and suspended until paid then on NASCAR probation for the remainder of the year.”

Sapienza was issued a $500 fine for the incident and is suspended from the series until paying the fine. He was also put on probation for the remainder of the 2021 season. 

“So I got a fine, a suspension, probation, the whole deal,” Sapienza said. “The whole package for that? They said I was disobedient by walking away from the on-track officials. … I didn’t get out of my car until the safety officials came up to my car. I didn’t run on the race track. I just took two steps, gave [Bonsignore] two fingers and grabbed [myself] and said ‘[Expletive] you you scumbag’ and that was it.”

Sapienza argued Wilson’s statement about him not “proceeding with the safety personnel/officials to the ambulance.” because he said there was no ambulance on scene.

“It was 30 seconds to a minute after I made my gesture until the ambulance even got to where we were,” Sapienza said. “There was no one directing me anywhere. There was no one directing me to a vehicle or an ambulance because the ambulance didn’t show up until 30 seconds to a minute later. There was no ambulance waiting and nobody was directing me to any NASCAR vehicles. They had me just standing there waiting. Nobody was directing me to do anything. How did I disobey directions if nobody was giving me directions?” 

Sapienza said he feels like he’s being targeted by series officials and punished for something other drivers would not have been penalized for. Sapienza pointed to other incidents over the weekend at Martinsville Speedway of which no penalties have been levied. 

During Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race Daniel Suarez approached the car of William Byron while Byron was pacing under caution and Suarez threw a water bottle at Byron. Following the Xfinity Series race, also on Sunday at Martinsville, drivers Joe Graf Jr. and Gray Gaulding rolled on the ground fighting on pit road. No suspensions – or any penalties – were announced by NASCAR for Suarez, Graf or Gualding.

“You’ve got Suarez throwing water bottles at [Byron],” Sapienza said. “You’ve got these two kids in the pits fighting, a full out brawl. So what’s the limit? Why am I getting targeted?”

The NASCAR Twitter page for regional division racing (@NASCARRoots) posted video of Sapienza’s reaction immediately following the incident with the caption “Dave was not happy with Kyle Bonsignore.” 

“They glorified me on their [social media], but they punish me for it,” Sapienza said. 

Sapienza said he will pay the fine to lift the suspension and be back in action for the NAPA Spring Sizzler 150 on April 25 at Stafford Speedway.

RaceDayCT Daily Poll: Did Dave Sapienza Deserve To Be Suspended By NASCAR?


  1. Hey Dave, pay the fine in pennies. Drop them off at the NASCAR trailer.

  2. Nascarf048 says

    Horrible call by Nascar and Jimmy Wilson. The safety crew guy has his hand on Sap’s back, Sap does his two finger salute taking two hops towards the car while not even getting into a possible travel lane, and walks back to the official who never even moved. If he didn’t listen to the official why didn’t the official move to stop him.

    What it looks like to me is that Jimmy Wilson/Nascar knows that Sapienza won’t put up with being wrecked and in order to assure he doesn’t do anything to Kyle Bonsignore, they pull this move.

  3. Dave should have been fined more for walking toward the line of cars coming at him. Too many drivers, And track officials have been hit and some killed by stupidly like that. what was he really trying to do?? Just dumb!

  4. Nascar better give the same treatment to Suarez for doing the exact same thing if not worse than what Sap did! What a joke of a penalty.

  5. Just a fan says

    Racer28 down in the back!!! You must be a Kyle fan. He didn’t walk out into traffic.

  6. For all the stuff TrackPass didn’t get on Thursday, they got this, and Sap pays the price. Ridiculous.

  7. As much as I hate to agree with Nascar they had to do something and a $500 fine and probation,I’d imagine against pulling a similar stunt, really isn’t so bad. I think he would have been ok had he not hopped towards the line of cars. If you look at the clip provided his foot ends up a few inches from the outside of the white line for that lane and cars were only a foot inside that line so not very safe to be so close to passing cars considering past tragedies. $500 means nothing to Sap so really just a reminder not to step towards the travel lane and make Nascar feel like there doing something.

  8. NASCAR should get rid of Jimmy Wilson.
    Just because he has a bad attitude in general.
    And now he’s going to have a power trip
    Because he’s in charge of the mods 🤣
    There goes that division

  9. Bad call by NASCAR. Sap didn’t even give him the salute, he just pointed at him. Furthermore, how can you be being directed to an ambulance that’s not there? A few years back, NASCAR loosened the reins, said they wanted the drivers to be able to show their emotions, and leave it “on the track”, now they pull this. Sap probably considers $500 to be pocket change, but that’s besides the point. What NASCAR forgets, is that they’re not the only show in town anymore, and with some of f these series/ races paying good money, closer to home, they shouldn’t be harassing their drivers.

  10. Bad move, Dave. Come on man, get with the times. When you get knocked in the wall during a race, the proper “woke” response is to hold hands with the track workers and sing Kumbaya as your car gets towed to the pits. That way, no one gets offended.

  11. Man I never in a million years thought there would be a penalty on that post race. However from mask wearing to this that’s what I admire about NASCAR their discipline and structure but it’s got to be even handed. The objections seem fair as well so make an appeal and revisit the episode again with fresh eyes. My preference would be no monetary penalty, no suspension and probation.

  12. Once again, Nascar shows all the wrong ways to run an organization. This dictatorship must be stopped. I can’t believe team owners in All divisions put up with them. It’s time to boycott Nascar.!

  13. OLD SCHOOL FAN says

    all I can say is its a good thing tony Stuart wasn’t driving a modified in this event. kyle bonsignore is a back marker and a menace but, sick and tired of drivers overreacting .. getting out of the car throwing helmets ,f bombs etc. modified demo derby using the car as a weapon . grow up you felt you got wrecked and its OK to be mad but man up ! this is the equivalent to the gratuitous end zone celebrations in the NFL. enough already. fines mean nothing, NASCAR is a joke .my opinion is he is compromised physically after the wall stadium wreck. he’s mad about the cost to repair his car as well and that’s a bad combination. get out of the car if your worried about getting hurt or worse. sorry just my opinion .probably a nice guy but put someone else in the car!

  14. Frankly, the fact that they slapped Sap with consequences is not the problem. Its a written rule and procedure in place that NASCAR enforces. It is what it is.
    However, Dave makes a great point that similar actions that same weekend in both the Cup and Xfinity Series were met without consequence. That is a problem. Perhaps, as in Dave’s case, there were actions taken that were not publicly handed-down by NASCAR, rather dealt with internally and behind garage doors.
    The folks at NASCAR need to come to a decision. To allow hot-tempered emotions in their sport for the television ratings or slap their supporters with fines and probationary periods…that is the question.

  15. Lettuce, dealing with what Sap did behind closed doors and out of the view of the public is totally the WRONG THING TO DO. That’s scary.

    That NASCAR used Sap’s clip as a news item, for their own good, is pure stupididiotmoron hypocrisy.

    That other events, such as all out brawls get no discipline, but plenty of WWF style hype, while slapping Sap with a fine and probation is more pure NASCAR bull-💩!

    That there are other events that go without consequence is the problem.

    So lets say NASCAR deals with the Sap issue behind closed doors, in a dimly lit, smoke filled room, Confederate flags hang on the wall, stinky white hooded robes hanging in the closet, a noose hangs for decoration above the altar… it is here, in secret, that they tell Sap he is fined, on probation, and is suspended until he pays the fine. This is all out of the view of the public. Ok, so say Sap refuses to pay the fine, and is prohibited from participating. People will indeed wonder what happened to Sap since he isn’t at any events. But indeed, the word will get out. He should show up and try to run, and make a spectacle. Well, it would be NASCAR that has to explain why they aren’t allowing Sap to run. And that would explode right back in their faces, making Sap a martyr.

  16. Fast Eddie says

    This is like sports referees not calling a game fairly. Call it loose, call it tight, but whatever happens call it the same way for EVERYBODY! I understand that not being a good public look on a video stream, yet NASCAR talks up and shows potential heated moments in their TV advertising. It’s ok for drivers to have a fist fight on national TV, but you can’t vent a little at another driver with a gesture on a video stream. Rules enforcement should be consistent and the same for ALL divisions.

  17. Hey Dave, pay the fine in pennies, loose pennies, not even rolled up.

    US legal tender.


    If i was sapienza i would put kyle in the fence firewall deep at stafford and then tell nascar “Now you have something to penalize me on.” Then just run Thompson, stafford and tri track open shows the rest of the year. Its a higher purse and less of a waste of time than being slandered by nascar.” sap deserves better.

  19. No, no, no…. don’t wall Kyle right away… let him live terrified for a few races, that would be far more entertaining.

  20. Get Real News says

    umm.. Suarez threw the bottle at William Byron, not Alex Bowman.. What else in this story is un researched/ fake news??

  21. NASCAR has to make equal calls. Fighting on TV …really that is a felony…but ok with NASCAR…

  22. MarshallDog says

    It’s pretty clear that NASCAR thinks they can get away with fining Sapienza because he doesn’t provide any dollars for their top tier series. Daniel Suarez won’t be sitting at home any time soon after he helped Pitbull join the sport. Can’t wait to see what kind of crap Chase Elliott could pull before getting suspended. Not that I think he would because he’s not much of a hothead, just giving an example.

  23. I don’t know Dave, but he seems to be a pretty cool, happy-go-lucky guy, not needing to be a raging pothead with impaired judgement that would then run out and attack a passing race car. He seems to be pretty happy without any chemical help.

    None of the NASCAR officials near Sap seemed bothered that Sap moved, they didn’t go after him, they just stood there.

    Sap did not put himself or anyone else in danger.

    But I gotta say, the crotch grab/shake at the end was priceless. Pure priceless.

  24. He will be a welcome addition to the Open shows and the TTOMS.Come on down Dave.

  25. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Dafella, you forgot about the burning cross in the corner of the room. The bucket of goats blood on the table. The virgin lying on said alter. Johnny Cash playing in the background for ambience.

  26. I’d rather have an angry Sap than a dead Sap. Pause the video. His toe is just about on the white line. 4-5 feet from the right front tire. The third car in line comes even closer after Dave turned his back.

    This was a message to the field. A reminder if you will. The headline says suspension but in fact it’s just going to be a minimal fine when said and done. We have now lowered ourselves to mocking safety? Must I remind you, races are more fun than funerals.

    Nascar posts all penalties for the top three tiers every Tuesday. They are on Jayski too.

  27. 🌈🦄2020, I did not forget that other stuff, I thought it would have been excessive. And it was Lynyrd Skynyrd and Charlie Daniels playing in the background.

  28. JD contributed, “I’d rather have an angry Sap than a dead Sap. Pause the video. His toe is just about on the white line. 4-5 feet from the right front tire. The third car in line comes even closer after Dave turned his back.

    This was a message to the field. A reminder if you will. The headline says suspension but in fact it’s just going to be a minimal fine when said and done. We have now lowered ourselves to mocking safety? Must I remind you, races are more fun than funerals.

    Nascar posts all penalties for the top three tiers every Tuesday. They are on Jayski too.”

    Accusing others of mocking safety?

    This coming from a guy that thinks the TrumpPandemic is a hoax, and mocks those that promote and abide by COVID-19 safety protocols.

    Stupid is as stupid does and says. Idiotic.

  29. JD,
    You say: “The headline says suspension but in fact it’s just going to be a minimal fine when said and done.”
    So basically you’re calling out my headline as wrong and you’re going to play the: “He’s really not suspended” game? No, he’s actually suspended. When the story was published he was actually for real suspended from the series. As of today, he’s suspended from the series. You don’t have to miss an event to be “suspended”. And if NASCAR doesn’t want it reported that he (or any other driver) was suspended then they should change the wording of their penalty procedure and don’t tell the competitor they’re suspended until they pay the fine. Here’s a fact, after he pays the fine, he’s still going to have been suspended. It’s not going to miraculously not have taken place. Don’t come on here and backhandedly accuse me of reporting things that aren’t true.

  30. That’s why I agree with NASCAR. It needs to me more and tougher. What he did accomplished absolutely nothing.. Those that don’t agree look at the video. This is the kind of thing that needs to be gone for good in the sport. It does nothing but risk lives for absolutely nothing!! Just show the world what an idiot does when he gets mad. Seriously!!

  31. 🌈JD🌈 wrote, “ Nascar posts all penalties for the top three tiers every Tuesday.”

    The NWMT is not one of the top three tiers. What’s your point?

  32. Folks, 🌈JD🌈 didn’t read the article. He only read the headline. He’s rarely fully informed.

    Typical 🌈JD🌈.

    Water is wet.

  33. Bernie 20never says

    The guy walked into traffic on the racetrack. He’s lucky he is not injured, he’s lucky he is allowed to race at all after that.

    No whataboutism will change the fact that he did something wrong.

  34. I didn’t say it’s untrue. I’m saying it is irrelevant. Kind of like when a MLB pitcher gets suspended for four days but doesn’t miss a start. Other than being out $500 there is no negative consequence. It doesn’t alter his race schedule. Nobody took away his birthday.

    The story is the message Nascar is sending. Not the suspension. That was a little too close for comfort and Nascar sent a reminder to everyone to keep your head so everybody goes home at the end of the day. The rule exists because we all saw a kid get killed. Sometimes the boys need to be reminded of the rules.

  35. NASCAR’s “suspended until fine is paid” description of Sap’s punishment seems unusual. When I saw “suspended”, I assumed that Sap was definitely going to miss at least one NWMT event. Perhaps NASCAR was concerned that Sap might not pay the fine and wanted the consequences of failure to pay the fine to be clear from the get go(?).

  36. 🌈JD🌈 trying to shame others for mocking safety. 😝😝😝😝😝😝 🌈JD🌈 mocks COVID safety regularly.

    🌈JD🌈 denounced wearing a mask months ago. So 580,000 dead Americans is not enough?

    🌈JD🌈 regularly tries taunting over the TrumpPandemic. Not enough deaths from the pandemic? 😷

    🌈JD🌈, the young man that was killed was under the influence, per a toxicology report, which clearly affected his judgement. Or he was an idiot. He should have known better.

    🌈JD🌈, it was all about rules, and the kid clearly did not abide by the rules, driving a race car while under the influence, and got himself killed. It was sad, indeed. No amount of rules was gonna stop that kid.

    Huge difference between what that kid did and what Sap did. That NASCAR used it as race news hype was just damning against NASCAR. Sap just wanted to scare the 💩 out of Kyle Bonsignore as the 22 went by, Sap didn’t want to jump on and attack the car. You have Sap staring at you, you will need to change your Fruit of the Looms.

    Hey 🌈JD🌈, a few years ago, there was a kid starting the NWMT, but he got in trouble for drugs, alcohol, etc. and was suspended by NASCAR. NASCAR requires a protocol for reinstatement, the kid refuses to go through the protocol, he ain’t running the NWMT. Rules? Irrelevant?

    $500 is almost two tires. Not exactly irrelevant. If Sap doesn’t pay, he doesn’t run in the NWMT. That’s certainly not irrelevant.

    So what is it about…. you say it’s irrelevant, and then say it’s about the rules and boys need to be reminded about the rules. Which is it…. irrelevant or all about the rules? There’s a chasm between.

  37. I think the call was BS considering what they allow the competitors in their precious top tier divisions get away with. The fine would have been more than enough to send a message however, putting him on probation for the rest of the season is pure BS considering it is the first offense. Sap was just letting Kyle know he was #1 in his book. As if that has never happened before!

  38. Good news DaReal. The NH governor will be lifting the mask mandate “wicked soon”. Freedom at last, baby! JD is about to be mask free once again. That should keep you away for a while. Talk about killing two birds. Winning!!

  39. Don’t worry, it won’t last long, not the way NH COVID numbers are going up. NH is one of the many states with a sharp increase in cases, and you know what follows. ☠️

    You are well aware of the old saying, stupid is what stupid does. Do you need that explained to you?

    Yeah, I saw pics of the NH Gov at a vax event, where he was wearing a mask and showing off his vaccine card. A nice pic, NH Gov getting vaccinated, showing off his vax card, wearing a mask… 🎼 looking 🎶 pretty 🎵 liberal. 😝😝😝😝

  40. 😷😷😷 darealgoodfella 😷😷😷 says: Lettuce, dealing with what Sap did behind closed doors and out of the view of the public is totally the WRONG THING TO DO. That’s scary.

    No, what’s often scary is your viewpoint on simple situations.

    How is it scary that a corporate sanctioning body deals with issues procedurally and ‘to [their] book’ internally? That’s what they do…
    They don’t have to answer to you, me, JD, Shawn, or even Sap. The fact that they usually do, by releasing their penalty reports each week, is certainly gratifying and a great policy. But, if they stopped today it wouldn’t make much difference to me.
    Get back to your true fear of COVID and don’t let NASCAR keep you up at night ol boy!

  41. For those of you that think what Sap did was dangerous, I recommend you watch races. Notice how close cars and other vehicles come to personnel on the track. Like the people cleaning up fluid leaks, crash debris, etc., they have cars passing right by under caution. ⚠️ Not much different than what Sap did. This happens on any caution where a cleanup is required and track personnel go out on the track to remediate.


    Now to the comment by Lettuce. 🥬

    🥬 wrote, “How is it scary that a corporate sanctioning body deals with issues procedurally and ‘to [their] book’ internally? That’s what they do…”

    That is a vague and ambiguous way of saying and wiggling away from the exact issue, and that is the concern that Sap was dealt with in a non-public way, as we are accustomed to the normal penalty announcements. That corporate sanctioning bodies deals with issues procedurally is NOT the subject. That this penalty issue with Sap was omitted or not publicized as normal procedure is part of the issue.

    Now you do not grasp the way this could have unfolded. Let’s say the penalty was issued in triple-secret-probation manner, and Sap decided he was done, refuses to pay the $500, and leaves the NWMT like so many other owners before him, and he goes to run TTOMS, MRS, Opens, etc. instead. So imagine a very popular owner/driver simply disappears mid season, with no news or announcement from NASCAR about it. Now that would attract attention. It would eventually come out about the triple-secret-probation, fine and suspension, and NASCAR would be in a huge 💩-storm for causing yet another top team to leave the NWMT.

    The weekly penalty reports are needed since they often include points deductions. If people are paying close attention, they would notice arithmetic errors, such as the owner and driver points totals not adding up per the allocation procedure, and may see points totals reduced once in a while. 🤯 Without the penalty reports, that would certainly look strange. But then, you and many others would never notice something like that, it would blow right over your head. (nice pun, head of 🥬)

    That NASCAR uses these brawls as hype and in advertisements, with no penalties, then does this to Sap is a HUGE problem. I can see why NASCAR tried to do this under-the-radar. The hypocrisy is palpable. Now whenever someone sees one of these events in a NASCAR ad or promo clip, we need to ask: what penalty was given out for that?

  42. The Atomic Punk says

    Dareal using his CNN wisdom on us…. after all he heard it on TV so it must be true,

  43. Dareal the difference is the track workers aren’t doing a skip towards the lane of traffic while they are coming bye.Track workers are protected with flashing lights and trucks that the racers are looking for not a driver skipping towards them. By the video footage provided you can clearly see where Sap’s foot ends up near the line and where the cars are coming by is to close for someone moving towards the passing cars. The third car in line is clearly surprised by someone being there and jerks the wheel a bit to the left and before you say it no he wasn’t scrubbing his tires right then. Like I said previously I don’t like the suspension phrasing that NASCAR used and probation seems a bit much as well but a fine and a warning if you do that again you will be suspended would have been fine with me. Can’t have every driver that thinks he was wronged in a wreck, whether right or not, getting out and walking, skipping, running towards passing cars. Just not smart.

  44. Bernie 20never says

    Clean up crews are required. Drivers walking onto the track is not required.

    Clean up crews do not attempt to get close to the cars that are moving on the track. The driver attempted to get close to the cars that were moving on the track.

    Clean up crews wear helmets. The driver did not have his helmet on.

    Clean up crews are doing thing far different than that driver did.

  45. We all love a good tale about the little guy vs the man. Hey it’s an emotional sport, tempers get heated and after all it was only a couple steps. See, there’s a menu here for all the exigent motivations NASCAR has to make an example to show who’s the boss. Unfair, injustice, over reach I say!!!!!!!
    Thing is you have to have rules, the Sapienza/Thilberg team is not the little guy and in the end they will respect and follow the procedures NASCAR meticulously has outlined that they agreed to.

    From the NASCAR rules
    “9-4.2.1 On-Track Incident Procedure
    3. After being directed to exit the vehicle, the driver must immediately proceed to either the ambulance, other vehicle or as otherwise directed by safety personnel or a NASCAR Official.
    4. At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach any portion of the racing surface or apron
    . 5. At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach another moving vehicle”

    What part of that is confusing? NASCAR did their job by the rules. You can say they should have turned a blind eye because Dave is a popular big personality just being Dave or they had all these other motivations for enforcing the rule to make an example. Makes not difference. They followed the rules. The clearly black and white rules as it turns out.
    Dave Sapienza in the end will follow the rules as well. That may include an appeal however the 36 is NWMT through and through. They love everything about the big time aspect of the NWMT and bring a big time hauler and operation to the races. They flirted with getting a non spec engine that would be a more perfect fit for Tri Track but in the end doubled down on the spec and NASCAR.
    You’ll see. Sapeinza has his emotional rough edge but is actually very thoughtful after the initial burst of emotion, respects NASCAR including Wilson and will do the right thing by the NASCAR rules.

  46. How long before Jimmy Wilson’s “direction” has the Tour back to a place where nobody want to play or watch anymore?

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