BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Every driver in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts wants to find something that gives him an advantage over his competitors and it looks Dylan Cappello has succeeded.
The 21-year-old from Peoria, Ariz., won his second race in a row Saturday night by leading from green flag to checkered flag and finishing .396 of a second ahead of Jason Irwin in the RAM Mounts 75 at Kern County Raceway Park.
When it was over the driver known as the “Hit Man” did a little celebrating with his family and his crew and headed for his hotel to get a few hours of sleep and head for the airport for his trip back to Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s where he’s spending the summer before his senior year at Northern Arizona University as an intern with the Stewart Haas Racing team.
It’s the same thing he had done after winning at Madera on June 10.
“One of the questions I get is if it’s helping me to be working back there,” Cappello said. “It can’t be hurting, that’s for sure. I guess just being around race cars all day is helping, just being around it and seeing what they do. Some of the stuff definitely correlates to the Modifieds.”
Cappello came within .176 of a second of a perfect night as the Lucas Oil Modified Series hit the halfway point in its 10-race championship season. That was the difference between his 18.813-second qualifying lap on the half-mile oval and the 18.637 that Scott Winters recorded to take the top spot. But Cappello used a turn-four pass of No. 6 qualifier Jim Mardis to win the six-lap Trophy Dash and started the main event on the pole after Winters pulled a two for the invert.
Irwin started third and got by Winters for second on lap two and it quickly became clear that the only one capable of challenging Cappello was Irwin. Those two began to pull away from third-place Taylor Miinch and the rest of the 25-car field and on lap 30 Cappello was 1.06 seconds ahead of Miinch and 4.4 seconds up on Miinch. By lap 45 the leader was 1.21 seconds up on Irwin and 4.4 in front of everyone else.
Quickly, it seemed, Irwin had turned his deficit into one in which he would be within a car length or so of Cappello as they both worked through lapped traffic.
“He drove a great race,” Cappello said. “He was right there and going through lapped traffic I had to stay on my toes. Taylor (Miinch) was saving a lot, too, and I think he would have been a force if we got a yellow.
“The car was a handful but it stayed with me and I was a little bit better than everybody else, which is all you need. The tires got warm. The right rear kind of went away and going around lapped traffic got to be pretty stressful.”
His second win of the season was the seventh of his career for Cappello, who won the series title as a rookie in 2014, and that moved him into a tie for fifth all-time with Jason Patison, who won the inaugural season title in 2006.
The win kept Cappello second in the Hoosier Tire West standings, 30 points behind Miinch, whose third-place effort was his 11th straight finish of fourth or better.
“We plan to give him a run for his money, for sure,” said Cappello, who has trimmed 14 points off his deficit with the back-to-back wins. “There’s a lot of good tracks coming up and we’re looking forward to it.”
Dylan Cappello, Jason Irwin, Taylor Miinch, Scott Winters, Linny White, Travis Thirkettle, Michael Mitchell, Wes Miller, Blake Rogers, Eric Hamilton, Jim Mardis, Shelby Stroebel, Kyle Cline, Dustin Tilbury, William Camara, P.J. Pedroncelli, Larry Gerchman, Jim Coffey, Jerry Toporek, Mark Allison, Rod Proctor, Michael Womack, Dave Arce, Eddie Secord, William Guevara.