By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires
For his return to the ARCA Menards West Series after eight years of absence (Roseville 2015), Dylan Cappello gave himself a one shot that he will remember for a long time, namely the victory in the Star Nursery 150 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring, Las Vegas, NV. He, the driver, who likes to get behind the wheel whenever he can to satisfy his passion for car racing. Indeed his work as a racing engineer at Front Row Motorsports in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with driver Zane Smith takes up a lot of his time.
He owes this victory to the quality of his driving of course but also to a little bit of luck. Indeed, the solid leader Sean Hingorani experienced a fire in his right front brake rotor while the pack was driving behind the pace car during the seventh yellow flag. This misadventure of No. 15 offering leadership to Cappello. But we still had to maintain this first position until the end of the race. And this is what he will do with mastery despite two new restarts and an overtime.
With his problems, Hingorani sees Trevor Huddleston (-26) and Tyler Reif (-27) reduce their deficit in the championship. He was 37 points ahead before the start of the race. There are two races remaining, one next week in Madera, CA and the finale in Phoenix, AZ on November 3. Nothing is being done for the championship because if in Madera there should be around twenty cars like here in Las Vegas, we expect more than 30 in Phoenix. The slightest misstep could be costly.
Here is the race review of the race.
Dylan Cappello knows the LVMS Bullring well having already ridden there in other categories. This experience is useful to him because he is the fastest in the practice ahead of local Tyler Reif. A seriously disrupted session for the latest winner in Roseville. Indeed Kaden Honeycutt is the victim of an engine problem. His team will have to change its engine.
In the qualifying session, Tyer Reif was beaten by 43 thousandths of a second by Hingorani. Reif misses the record. Indeed, if he had obtained pole, he would have been the youngest driver in history to achieve this in three races consecutively. It is therefore the championship leader who takes pole. This is Hingorani’s second pole of the season. Eric Nascimento, Jr. and Dustin Ash occupy the second row. Cappello is eighth and Honeycutt is 21st and last. He was unable to participate in the qualifying session. His team is still working on changing the engine of the No. 17. Note the absence of Tim Goulet and his Rise Motorsports team.
As soon as the pace car frees the pack of 21, Sean Hingorani takes advantage of his pole position to retain the leadership. Behind him the fight between Tyler Reif, Dustin Ash, Trevord Huddleston and Tanner Reif is intense. Honeycutt has a great car and is moving up quickly. In less than 10 laps he entered the top-10 and at the time of the first yellow flag on the 15th lap he was eighth.
This first yellow is caused by Nick Joanides spun in Turn 3. His left rear tire is flat. Bobby Hillis, Jr. stops to avoid him and loses a lap on the leaders. Indeed, bad luck for him, because the incident occurred right in front of the leaders. Mariah Boudrieau receives the first free pass of the evening.
Hingorani managed the restart well on the 19th lap even though he was under pressure from a furious group made up of the Reif brothers, Huddleston and Ash. Honeycutt continues his climb and will quickly join them. He even briefly raced in fifth position before losing speed due to a problem with his left front brake capiler. Ash is very pressing on Hingorani for the first position and the two drivers touch each other several times.
The second yellow was caused on the 23rd lap by Bobby Hillis, Jr. who spun turn 1. The restart was quickly given on the 27th lap with Hingorani and Ash resuming their fight. Tyler Reif and Huddleston do the same. Just behind them, Dylan Cappello overtakes Tanner Reif for 5th position.
Greg Potts spun into the frontstrech on the 29th lap. Pushed by one of his opponents. The yellow flag was not waved directly because it stopped in the infield of turn 1. But it failed to restart and finally the officials waved the yellow flag on the 31st lap. Hillis, Jr. receives the fress pass.
The green flag is waved on the 35th lap and we will witness the first long run under green. Bradley Erickson, firmly established in the top 10 since the start of the race, unfortunately retired on the 41st lap following a mechanical problem.
The fourth yellow flag came on lap 64 following Hillis, Jr.’s violent crash into the outside wall between turns 3-4. It was his brakes that suddenly failed without warning. He tried to spin his car off to avoid a head-on collision with the wall. Slightly injured in his left arm, he was forced to abandon. Nascimento receives the free pass. Honeycutt briefly returns to his pit box for adjustments. He returns to the track in 15th position. Last driver in the leader’s lap.
The restart is given on the 71st lap, shortly before halfway and the classification is as follows: Hingorani leader ahead of Ash, Tyler and Tanner Reif, Cappello, Huddleston, Todd Souza, Kyle Keller, Robbie Kennealy, Eric Rhead, R.J. Smotherman, Takuma Koga, Monty Tipton, Potts, Honeycutt, Boudrieau, David Smith, Nascimento, Joanides, Hillis and Erickson being the only two who dropped out.
Dustin Ash, who was having such a good race for his return to the West Series while fighting for first position, suffered a loss of power problem and saw the whole pack overtake him. Tanner Reif barely managed to avoid contact with the No. 5 Toyota while idling in the frontstretch. While he is 12th, Koga stops his Toyota No. 7 inside turn 1, electrical problem, it is retirement. In less than two minutes, both Jerry Pitts Racing cars suffered mechanical damage. It’s desolation for the team which had a good chance of victory. Potts receives the free pass and comes within one lap of the leaders.
The restart was barely given on the 84th lap when Souza, who was fighting for the top-five, spun after contact with Tanner Reif on turn 2. Potts received the free pass again and returned to the leader’s lap.
The following restart on lap 90 allowed Hingorani to maintain his leadership with Tyler Reif being overtaken for second position by Cappello. Behind there are several contacts within the pack and we can see the damage on many cars. Among those in the top-10 we see Rhead with the front left rubbing on his tire, or even Smotherman who has his motor hood bent.
On the 100th lap the classification is as follows with Hingorani first ahead of Cappello, Tyler Reif, Huddleston, Tanner Reif, Keller, Kennealy, Honeycutt, Nascimento, Rhead, Smotherman and Potts who is 12th and first driver one lap behind the leaders.
It is worth noting the great races of the Keenealy Keller Motorsports, Keller and Kennealy drivers. Both have been firmly in the top 10 since the start of the race and are closing in on the top-five. Another driver who surprises us is Eric Rhead who has a very good pace despite a car with a damaged front end.
Brake fire !
The 119th lap was marked by the appearance of the seventh yellow flag due to a spun from Mariah Boudrieau in the frontstretch, helped by one of her playmates. Potts received the free pass for the third time in a row. But the notable event is the start of fire in the right front brake rotor of leader Hingorani. The flames escape through the rim and under the car. Driving slowly behind the pace car, therefore reducing the air flow to cool the brakes, is the cause of the problem.
Officials asked Hingorani to stop for safety reasons. The driver of No. 15 did not obey the orders of the race direction. Suddenly on the 124th lap, the officials brought out the red flag and stopped the cars so they can put out the fire in Hingorani’s car. The latter receives a penalty and he was sent to the rear for the restart for disobeying an ARCA directive.
This gives Dylan Capello the lead for the restart on lap 129. He must control Tyler Reif’s attacks. The eighth yellow flag is raised due to Hingorani stalled in the infield. Its right front tire is flat. He will lose a lap when he returns to the pits to change it. Souza receives the free pass.
The green flag was waved on lap 136 and Cappello retained first position. Behind Huddleston and Tyler Reif touch each other while they are in the middle of a fight for second position. A few laps later Tyler Reif lost time on turn 3 by catching lapped cars and slipped to fifth position behind his brother and Keller. Hingorani is idling and returns to his pit box. He will lose five more laps.
But he had barely returned to the track when he suffered another puncture to his right front tire. He stops inside Turn 1. This time it’s retirement. He will finish 16th in the race. But this caused a ninth yellow flag with two laps remaining. It is therefore under the overtime rule that the race will end. Honeycutt, Hillis or Hingorani, the brakes were put to the test on this short track!
Cappello achieves a perfect restart and controls Tanner Reif and Trevor Huddleston who are busy fighting for second position. Behind Tyler Reif and Keller are fighting for fourth position. Eric Nascimento interfered in the fight and touched Keller on Turn 4, which destabilized the No. 70 Ford. Nascimento finished fifth, ahead of Keller.
In front, Cappello took the checkered flag as the winner, achieving an emotional victory. It allows Naake-Klauer Motorsports to return to Victory Lane for the first time since Joey Iest’s victory at Colorado in 2021.
“Man it’s just crazy. This is just kind of a one-off deal, just come out to have fun with family and friends. It turned into a win. It’s out of control. It’s crazy. I don’t even know what’s happening right now. This car is so fast. Mike Naake has a great piece. These guys are animals on restarts and I was kind of struggling getting through gears all night. Man, just got through the gears just good enough and I got a good entry into (Turn) 1. It all came together. I felt like I made 30 mistakes on the last two laps, but it all came together.” said Cappello.
The top-10 in the race are as follows: Cappello, Huddleston, Tanner Reif, Tyler Reif, Nascimento, Keller, Souza, Kennealy, Honeycutt and Smotherman. The rest of the ranking (11 to 21) is made up of: Rhead, Potts, Ash, Smith, Boudrieau, Hingorani, Joanides, Tipton, Koga, Hillis and Erickson.
The current championship podium is occupied by Sean Hingorani (495 points) ahead of Trevor Huddleston (469) and Tyler Reif (468).
Note that 10 drivers also received the 50-point bonus offered by ARCA for having participated in the last five races.
The next race on October 21 at Madera Speedway, Madera, CA, for the 51FIFTY Jr Homecoming ARCA 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall Of Fame. For the first West Series race since 2009 on this short track.
See you quickly for the full driver-by-driver analysis of this Las Vegas race.