(Stafford Springs, CT)—When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Stafford Speedway on August 4th for the Stafford 150, Dave Sapienza, driver of the #36 SAP Enterprises Chevrolet, will be looking to continue to ride the wave of positive momentum he and his team have been on. After only scoring one top-10 finish in the first five races of the season, Sapienza has recorded back to back podium finishes with a 2nd place effort at his home track of Riverhead and then a 3rd place finish at New Hampshire.
“My crew chief Tommy Grasso and I had a talk the other day to see how things were going and he was thrilled with how well we ran at New Hampshire and he felt really good about how we are going to run at Stafford,” said Sapienza. “Coming off a second and a third, we have a lot of confidence and momentum behind us. There’s not really much that I worry about at Stafford, just myself as the driver. Stafford is a track that I haven’t been able to tame just yet. We’ve had a few good runs there, but we’ve also had some horrible races there. Once we can get Stafford figured out, I’ll be ecstatic.”
In 9 career NWMT starts at Stafford, Sapienza has only one top-10 finish and an average finish of 16.8. Sapienza’s lone Stafford top-10 finish came in this year’s NAPA Spring Sizzler back in April and Sapienza will be bringing a new car to the Connecticut half-mile for the Stafford 150.
“We’re bringing a new TA2 car to Stafford and we feel like we’re going to be better than we’ve ever been at Stafford,” said Sapienza. “When I got out of the car after the Sizzler, Tommy said to me ‘That’s like a win for us here.’ That was the first time I used the new TA2 car and we really didn’t have a notebook to work off of like we have with our TA1 car. We’ve run the TA2 car three times now and it’s very easy to dial the car in and to dial the car out. I’m still learning the car and getting comfortable with it. We ran the car at Riverhead and we came out of there with a great run and it gave us a lot of information on how that car will react on a short track. It’s the same car that Ryan Preece runs and they’re killing everyone so we feel like we’re going to be at our best running the new car. I’m staring to get a good feel for the car and I think that’s the reason for our improvement.”
There have been several rule changes made to the Stafford 150 race format that Sapienza feels might also play to his favor. Instead of each car taking two laps for time trials, the cars will be put into groups and each group will have 5 minutes to turn as many laps as they wish with the fastest lap serving as their qualifying time. A second change has to do with pit stops. For the Stafford 150, cars can only change one tire per stop.
“I’ve never been real good at time trials so I think the group qualifying they’re putting in for the Stafford race will be a benefit for me,” said Sapienza. “It usually takes me a couple of laps to get adjusted and we’ve benefitted from the group qualifying already this season the couple of times we’ve run that. I think my best start at Stafford has been around 13th or 14th so if we could get a good top-10 or even a top-5 starting spot, we’d be really happy with that. Also the new rule with one tire per pit stop will help us because we’ve done some short pitting at some previous races and that has really helped us out so I’m going to leave the tire strategy up to Tommy.”
Sapienza will also be leaning on his experience in the past two NWMT races of running among the front runners.
“Going to Stafford, I’m really looking forward to it because of the experience we have the past couple weeks running with the guys up front. We’re on a roll right now and we’re praying we can keep it going because we’ve had some really bad luck and we’re hoping our bad days are behind us. I think having a lot more confidence in the car and my crew chief will help us maintain our momentum.”
Tickets for the August 4 Stafford 150 are available and on sale now at the Stafford Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $35.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seat tickets are $37.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self contained Recreational Vehicles. Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will join the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cars in feature action.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.