SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Dylan Cappello has never been too fond of Orange Show Speedway and its tight quarter-mile track, but he liked it a lot more on Saturday night.
Winning will have that affect, especially the dominant kind of win that Cappello had Saturday night in the GEICO 100 presented by Optima Batteries.
The 2014 Lucas Oil Modified Series champion from Peoria, Ariz., stalked early leader Jim Mardis for 57 laps, took the lead when Mardis got bumped by Taylor Miinch on the restart after the second of four caution periods, and drove away to win by 4.7 seconds over two-time series champion Mardis, with reigning champion Miinch third.
“I was racing the 11 (Cappello) pretty hard on the restart,” said Miinch, who leads the Hoosier Tire West point standings over Justin Johnson (who was sixth) and Cappello. “The 51 (Mardis) was right in front of me going down the front straightaway, he arced in the corner (to set up for turn 2) and I just got into him and unfortunately gave the 11 car the lead. I know Jjimmy’s mad at me, but it’s a racing deal. It happens.”
Cappello saw it as payback for the times he’s had bad luck in similar situations.
“It feels like it’s been a while since we won,” said Cappello, whose most recent win had been on July 22, 2017, at Rocky Mountain Raceway in Utah. “It feels really good to finally get back into victory lane and give the (crew) guys a win. We’ve been close a couple of times this year and we finally put it all together.
“I didn’t really expect it here. Coming here is a gamble, a lot of stuff can happen here (on Orange Show’s tight quarter-mile oval). We were just trying to come out of here with a good run and it happened.
“I knew me and Jimmy were pretty close, honestly. I thought I was better than him from about lap five to 25, that seemed to be when I ran him down in that first run. As soon as we got in front of him I started hearing I was clear by 10 (car lengths), clear by 15, clear by 20, and I was able to get through the lapped cars real well.”
It was Cappello’s ninth career win.
Mardis was making his first series start of the year, in a race he won in 2017 and on a track where he grew up and still races, and for a while as he held the lead it looked like the hometown advantage would carry him through.
“It would have been a perfect night except for one restart,” Mardis said. “I had a good car, I had a really fast hot rod. The 11 car (Cappello) was better, he had a little more drive than we had, but it was manageable, so as long as he was behind me it was okay. I could manage the race and control the pace. I felt really good about it. Then we had a restart and I went off into turn 1 and got hit, real hard. I gave up the lead and the 11 car drove away from us.”
Aside from the flurry of four yellow caution flags between laps 56 and 60 the race was run so cleanly and quickly that sixth-place finisher Johnson was the last driver on the lead lap.
Dylan Cappello, Jim Mardis, Taylor Miinch, Scott Winters, Jeremy Kay, Justin Johnson, Eddie Secord, Ryan Schartau, Blake Rogers, Aaron McMorran, Mark Allison, Linny White, Doug Carpenter, Jesse Lawson, Dave Arce, William Guevara, Cody Kay, Chris Cook.