West Valley City, Utah – This is getting monotonous – for everyone except Dylan Cappello and his team.
Saturday night the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts made its annual visit to Rocky Mountain Raceways, one of the drivers’ favorite tracks. But the race looked almost identical to the one three weeks ago at Kern County Raceway and the one three weeks before that at Madera Speedway.
Cappello started on the pole, led all 75 laps of the Lucas Oil 75 presented by General Tire and won the race by 4.640 seconds over fast qualifier Jason Irwin. That’s three straight wins and 225 consecutive laps led for the 2014 series champion. Cappello also led 69 of 75 laps at Las Vegas four races ago, so that’s 294 of 300 for the driver who answers to the nickname “Hit Man” but probably is being called a few other things by his pursuers.
It was Cappello’s eighth career win, moving the 21-year-old from Peoria, Arizona, into a tie with two-time series champion Jim Mardis for fourth on the all-time list.
Irwin started fourth after setting a track record of 15.210 seconds to earn his third fast time in as many tries on RMR’s 3/8-mile oval. The 20-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was the ninth driver to have the fast time in qualifying and has the number 9i on his Milwaukee Power Tools/Weather Guard Phil’s Phabrication Chevrolet. Any thoughts of that being an omen were dispelled quickly, however.
Irwin moved into second on lap 3, after the only caution period of the race. But all being second did was give him a clear view of the back of Cappello’s RAM Mounts/Arizona Garage Doors STR-RBK Chevrolet as Cappello put his favorite disc into the CD and drove away from everyone else in the 26-car field.
It was pretty much a replay of their race at Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, California, July 1, when Cappello and Irwin drove away from the field. In that one, however, Irwin did get close enough to make Cappello a little nervous in the final laps.
This time the senior-to-be at Northern Arizona University was just cruising to the finish and Irwin now has two seconds and a third to go with his three fast times in three visits to RMR.
Taylor Miinch had been third at Bakersfield and he got third this time with Trevor Cristiani fourth and Linny White fifth. It was the 12th straight race in which Miinch has finished fourth or better. That kept the Blossom Valley, California, driver atop the series Hoosier Tire West point standings, although Cappello trimmed his deficit from 30 to 23 points unofficially with four races remaining and still has hopes of capturing a second title.
“We’ve just got to focus on getting wins. We’ve got to have a pretty stout race car every time out,” Cappello said, and obviously that hasn’t been a problem lately for he and crew chief Dean Kuhn, who started their own team this season after Cappello ended a three-year association with Garcia Racing.
“Dean is awesome, Cappello said. “I love working with Dean. He believes in me, I believe in him and everybody on the team does their job.”
The team struggled early in the season but found its comfort zone at Las Vegas and Cappello said much of the recent success is because of familiarity, with each other and the racing venues.
“We’re coming back to tracks we have notes on and that’s really helpful,” he said, “and we’ve got the same car so we’ve got notes on what we struggled with in the setup and we can come with a different package and tweak it.
“We know the stuff we want to work on. We struggled with loose entry (into the turns) all weekend. We changed the setup for qualifying and it didn’t work, then we just threw a bunch of things at it before the race and we hit it. It’s a matter of never giving up.
“We know we’ve got a good car. It’s just never giving up and getting that little bit extra it takes to win.”
Cappello and Kuhn will have a month to study their notes before the series’ next race, at Irwindale, California, August 19. Most of what they read they’ll like, too, because Cappello has a win and three other top four finishes in four starts on the fast half-mile oval.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIED SERIES
Lucas Oil 75 presented by General Tire
Rocky Mountain Raceways, West Valley City, Utah
Saturday, July 22, 2017
MAIN EVENT (75 laps) – 1. Dylan Cappello (11), Peoria, Az.; 2. Jason Irwin (9i), Albuquerque, N.M.; 3. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, Ca.; 4. Trevor Cristiani (90), Boise, Idaho; 5. Linny White (99), Colton, Ca.; 6. Jim Mardis (51), Yucaipa, Ca.; 7. Doug Hamm (4X), North Las Vegas, Nevada; 8. Blake Rogers (4B), Yuma, Az.; 9. Eric Hamilton (11H), Hanford, Ca.; 10. Mike Mitchell (77), Loomis, Ca.;
- Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, Ca.; 12. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho; 13. Dustin Tilbury (17D), Edgewood, N.M.; 14. Michael Womack (3), Troutman, N.C.; 15. Cameron Morga (54), Albuquerque, N.M.; 16. Nick Parker (30), Magna, Utah; 17. Eddie Secord (84), Oak Hills, Ca.; 18. William Camara (57), Fremont, Ca.; 19. William Guevara (55), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 20. Jimmy Waters (24W), West Jordan, Utah;
- Jeff Longman (11L), Lehi, Utah; 22. Pat Petrie (1), Henderson, Nevada; 23. Mark Allison (115), Las Vegas; 24. Chris Cook, Tabiona, Utah; 25. Zach Webster (29), Salt Lake City, Utah; 26. Patrick Gold (80), Salt Lake City.
Margin of victory – 4.640 seconds. Average speed – n/a. Lead changes – none. Caution periods – 1. Fast qualifier – Jason Irwin (9i), 15.210 seconds/88.757 mph (record; old record 15.221 seconds by Irwin, July 25, 2015); Trophy Dash winner – Blake Rogers (4B).
Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release. Photo Credit: Lucas Oil Modified Series