WATCH LIVE: Open Modifieds at Thompson
While his results at ‘The Big T’ during his career are up and down, Sap has shown that given a good car, and the right circumstances, he can mix it up with the front runners, and compete for the checks and trophies.
“It never had been a favorite track, but when I have a good car it is. The last time we were there we were looking good, but then we got rained out. Then the time before that it was just a bad call on a pit stop, I just misunderstood something on the radio, and I came in too early. I’m excited to get back there on Wednesday.” Sapienza told Speed51.
Sanctioned by the American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Stars Series, the Outlaw Open Modified Series has not quantity in its fields for the two 75-lap Wednesday shows scheduled, but the quality of drivers participating has been top notch. Names such as Keith Rocco, Jon McKennedy, Ronnie Williams, Matt Swanson, Chris Pasteryak, Anthony Nocella, Mike Christopher Jr. and Ryan Preece have thrown their names in over the summer.
It’s a group that Sapienza is always excited to square off against.
I like the group we’ve had, a lot of those guys run on the tour, so there’s not a lot of newcomers that can make mistakes, even though the best of the best make mistakes. Running with Preece, McKennedy, all the guys that have shown up, those guys give a lot of respect.
Another aspect that Sap and crew chief Tommy Grasso have been working on at Thompson, is nailing down the correct pit strategy with fast pit stops. Sapienza knows full well that a shot of winning depends on it.
“I’ve almost been in contention one time where we had planned it just right, and then my shifter broke on the restart. It was a race that I could’ve won, I had a Top 1 or 2 car. But, if you follow me, you know how my luck’s been. If we keep going for it, then one of these days we’ll nail it down.”
Running the four scheduled 75-lap races at Thompson (now three because of a July rainout), along with the Icebreaker 125 back in April are all a part of a plan for Sap and the No. 36 camp to make their own luck at season’s end. That being the return of the Thompson 300 on Sunoco World Series weekend in October.
“Over the weekend I was talking to my crew chief, all these little races that we’re running at Thompson are setting us up for the big 300. We can try certain things. I know they’re not long-distance races or anything like that, but this way we might be able to get a good handle on some of the stuff we might want to do to the car for 300 itself, with tire wear, setups, and pit stops. Anybody who’s doing these smaller races is going to benefit, every little bit helps.”
That being said, Sapienza feels that the winning potential is already there, and with a little confidence they can compete for $5,000 on Wednesday night.
“Going into this week, we got a different setup in the car so we’re going to try that out and see how it plays out for us. We didn’t do too well at Stafford on the Tour, plus I got caught up in a mess. We need to bring ourselves back into a Top 5 team with myself as a driver, and get that confidence a little better,” Sapienza explained.
“I always got good equipment, Tommy is always on his a-game; but the way these cars are nowadays everything is so close because of the competition level, and everyone’s got the same stuff. It’s frustrating because if you’re off a tiny bit, it’s so noticeable. You need to be at your best, all the time.”
See the live pay-per-view broadcast of the Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer Midsummer 75 from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Speed51.TV this Wednesday, August 11 at 6pm ET.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51