After hot sun dominated the practice sessions of the first four Tour-type Modified races of the 2020 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, Friday’s practice for the Richie Evans Memorial 100 saw a change with clouds, cool temperatures, and a chilly breeze bringing in a change for the teams. In the final practice session, the names near the top of the chart had changed as well.
The one at the top of the charts was that of Dave Sapienza, who is running the entire World Series Modified schedule for the first time in his career this week. The Riverhead, NY native felt good about how both the day and the week have been so far.
“I feel pretty good, there’s going to be a tire change over the long run, and I think I got a good car for the long distance. I do like the longer distance races, I get more focused. But, I just want another good finish with no damage. I’ve learned a lot this week, I had been out of the car for almost the past year with my back injury. But, I’m mostly here to test so I can get back on the Tour with two feet,” Sapienza told Speed51.
While knowing his priorities, the driver of No. 36 is certainly not going pass up a shot at a Richie Evans Memorial win.
“Coming out of here with a win would be the ultimate, bottom line, there’s no better than winning the Richie Evans Memorial. We got a stout field, guys with some power, we’re a little underpowered, I can feel it, but I’m looking forward to a good clean run. Hopefully I can time trial well, stay up front, and hopefully my car comes in late and we can get a win.”
Opposite of Sapienza, Tommy Catalano’s week has been anything but smooth, as he lost the engine in not one, but two of his family’s racecars. In the eleventh hour of Thursday night, the Catalano clan began the hunt for a car for Catalano to drive, with an unlikely ride being offered by the PSR No. 17 team who had run with Jeremy Gerstner during the week, and had originally planned to go home after Thursday night’s racing.
“It was a late-night deal, obviously we were running around last night looking for an engine to buy or borrow for today. We weren’t able to come up with a built motor to get us by for today. The guys at PSR were kind of enough to offer us a chance to use the car, they were done for the week, and offered us the car, it came together, and hopefully we can put on a strong showing tonight.” Catalano explained.
Catalano timed in eighth in the final practice, and was encouraged that the unlikely pairing of driver and team could surprise a few people Friday night.
“It was spur of the moment, they were here, we asked if we could buy the motor off of them or rent it last night. That wasn’t something that they wanted to do, overnight they thought about it and offered to let us use the car today. That looked to be the only way we were going to have a car in field tonight. We had a plan last night and obviously things didn’t come together to pull it off. Just appreciative of what we have here today and we’ll give it a strong run.”
Fans can follow Speed51’s Trackside Now coverage, presented by FK Rod Ends, for live updates during the Richie Evans Memorial and the rest of Friday night’s racing at New Smyrna Speedway.
Fans can also visit Speedweeks Central for videos, news, interviews and more from Florida Speedweeks.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Phoot credit: Speed51