IRWINDALE, California – Dylan Cappello had a coming out party Saturday night at the Irwindale Event Center.
The 18-year-old Lucas Oil Modified Series rookie from Peoria, Arizona, set a track record to pace the Speedco qualifying sheet, won the LoanMart Super Fast 75 presented by K&N Filters after a long back-and-forth battle with reigning series champion Chris Gerchman, and took the lead in the Hoosier Tire West point standings with three races left in the season.
Then he went back to the Garcia Racing pit and washed and waxed the cars.
“This makes up for Tucson and (Lake) Havasu,” Cappello said, looking back at two early season races he was in position to win until encountering mechanical gremlins.
“The car was really good,” he said of the Sears Garage Doors/BILSTEIN Shocks STR Chevrolet. “We worked on it a lot to get it there. When I hit my line perfect it felt like I was on a cushion.”
Cappello went into the race in a tie for second in the point standings, 26 behind 2012 champion Austin Barnes, who was at home in Escondido sitting out a one-race suspension and will return about 28 points behind Cappello, but fell only to second place.
Gerchman started on the pole and Cappello on the outside of the second row in the 30-car field after an invert of 4 and neither driver was out of the top 5 during the 75 laps over Irwindale’s fast, high-banked half-mile oval.
Front row starter Doug Hamm took the lead from Gerchman on lap 2, but Gerchman got it back on lap 9 and for a while rolled merrily along while Cappello, Hamm, Jason Irwin, Tripp Gaylord and Jason Patison fought to see who would be second.
Cappello settled into that position on lap 20, after a ragged opening segment that produced all four of the race’s caution flags, and for 55 laps he and Gerchman played cat and mouse.
Gerchman, back behind the wheel after missing one race to await the arrival of baby daughter Lilly (who finally appeared Monday morning), seemed able to get off Turn 4 and onto the front straightaway a little better and he and Cappello traded the lead six times before Cappello pulled ahead for good.
“That was the most fun I’ve had racing, and it was cleanest racing,” said Cappello, who made his move to the front with the help of lapped traffic in Turn 3. From there, he said, it was “pedal to the metal all the way. I knew my tires were good because I’d saved them. The only thing I didn’t want was a yellow flag.”
Cappello took the checkered flag 0.850 seconds ahead of Gerchman, from Spring Branch, Texas, with 2013 race winner Patison third, Irwin four and Matthew Hicks fifth in his return to the series after a two-race hiatus.
Round 8 of the 10-race series will be at Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, California, September 27.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIED SERIES
LoanMart Super Fast 75
Irinwdale (California) Event Center
1/2- mile paved, banked oval
Saturday, August 16, 2014
MAIN EVENT (75 laps) – 1. Dylan Cappello, Peoria, Arizona; 2. Chris Gerchman, Spring Branch, Texas; 3. Jason Patison, Corona, California; 4. Jason Irwin, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 5. Matthew Hicks, Lakeside, California; 6. Doug Hamm, Las Vegas, Nevada; 7. Rod Johnson, Rancho Cucamonga, California; 8. Eddie Secord, Oak Hills, California; 9. Tripp Gaylord, Golden, Colorado; 10. Linny White, Colton, California;
11. Tim Morse, Burbank, California; 12. Larry Gerchman, Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 13. Roger Brown, Colton, California’; 14. Doug Carpenter, San Diego, California; 15. Scott Winters, Tracy, California; 16. Rich Lindgren, Rio Linda, California; 17. Keegan Walmer, Charlotte, North Carolina; 18. Aaron McMorran, Las Vegas; 19. Jim Mardis, Yucaipa, California; 20. Kyle Tellstrom, Ukiah, California;
21. Joe Deguevara, Las Vegas; 22. Jerry Toporek, Venice, California; 23. Pat Petrie, Henderson, Nevada; 24. Dustin Tilbury, Edgewood, New Mexico; 25. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho; 26. Jason Bamberg, Loomis, California; 27. Chase Catania, El Cajon, California; 28. Mike Regelman, Ripon, California; 29. Blake Dunkelberger, Simi Valley, California; 30. Dave Arce, Santee, California.
Margin of victory – 0.850 seconds. Average speed – 48.982 mph. Caution flags – 4. Speedco Fast qualifier – Cappello, 18.891 seconds, (track record). BILSTEIN Trophy Dash winner – L. Gerchman.
iON CAMERAS B MAIN (25 laps) – 1. Daniel Williams, Glendale, California; 2. Sal Lopez, Sacramento, California; 3. Will Guevara, Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 4. Eddie Wilcox, River Bank, California; 5. Lindgren; 6. Regelman; 7. Tilbury; 8. Toporek; 9. Jay Linstroth, Citrus Heights, California. (Lindgren, Regelman, Tilbury and Toporek were the top 4 after 15 laps and transferred to the main event.)
Margin of victory – 4.009 seconds. Average speed – 57.333 mph.
Attendance – 4,600.