BLYTHE, California – Dylan Cappello’s first win was memorable. His second was even better.
The 18-year-old from Peoria, Arizona, said it was “awesome,” and that’s an accurate description. Cappello, a rookie in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart, dominated the Next Era Energy 100 presented by Sunoco Fuel at Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway Saturday night (September 27) by leading 82 of 100 laps on the tight quarter-mile oval and never facing a challenge en route to his second victory in a row and a tighter hold on the Hoosier Tire West championship points lead with two races remaining.
Cappello’s first win came in mid-August on the biggest track the series runs, the fast half-mile oval at Irwindale, California. This one came at the smallest track on the schedule, an extremely tight quarter-mile oval with no real straightaway, and he couldn’t have made it look much easier.
The driver of Garcia Racing’s Sears Garage Doors/BILSTEIN Shocks STR Chevrolet qualified only eighth, but “got really lucky on the invert” and started the race on the pole. He lost the early lead to Chase Catania, the other front-row starter, but took it back on lap 19 and drove away from the field.
Shortly after Cappello took the lead the second yellow caution flag was displayed. When the green waved to start lap 23 the leader had Catania, Jason Irwin, 2012 champion Austin Barnes and reigning champion and fast qualifier Chris Gerchman close behind. When the caution waved again, 36 laps later, Cappello was over five seconds ahead of Irwin, with Barnes third, Gerchman fourth and Catania fifth.
Cappello never led by as much again, but he handled all four restarts flawlessly and Irvin never got close enough to even think about a pass, either, finishing 0.855 seconds behind. Barnes was happy with a third he said “could have been a lot worse” and the Gerchman family rounded out the top five, with son Chris in fourth after some transmission problems and father Larry fifth after some on-track contact with Shelby Stroebel.
Cappello was fifth in his first start at Blythe, on April 19, and since then has won twice and been second three times. The win at Irwindale gave him the points lead in the absence of Barnes, who was serving a one-race suspension, and the victory at Blythe increased his lead to 34 points, unofficially, with events at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, October 18, and Las Vegas November 22 remaining.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release