The “Hitman” Strikes Again in SPEARS Pro Late Model Series Action at KCRP
PC: Sal Sigala Jr.
Story: SRL Media
Bakersfield, CA – Dylan Cappello became the first SPEARS Pro Late Model Series presented by Sigma Performance Services driver to repeat a victory in 2022, as he led every lap from the Pole to score a $2,500 victory in the “Oil and Gas Industry Salute 80 presented by General Tire” at Kern County Raceway Park. Cappello qualified seventh but drew the #1 card to start on the pole. He held off challenges from Bradley Erickson for the first 55 laps of the event and then Tanner Reif for the closing 25 circuits. The battle saw Reif make a bid for the lead in Turns #3 and #4 on the last lap.
In a similar strategy to his victory in the season opening “All-Star Showdown” at Irwindale Speedway, Cappello skipped the one and only practice session of the day, resulting in the team qualifying first in the order. Cappello ended up seventh, with Dylan Zampa earning the quickest lap of the day. The redraw was not kind to Zampa however, as he drew the #7 card, putting him in the middle of the field. Logan Zampa lined up beside Cappello on the front row, with double duty driver Tanner Reif and Bradley Erickson in row two.
When the green emerged, Cappello jumped to a solid lead, with Logan Zampa, Tanner Reif and Erickson in tight formation. Erickson was on the move however, getting under Tanner Reif on lap 10 and Logan Zampa two laps later. Erickson began to run down Cappello in the ensuing laps, reaching his rear bumper by lap 30. Cappello was up to the task however, holding off the teenager to the lap 40 Halftime Break. Cappello led Erickson, Logan Zampa, Tanner Reif, Tyler Reif, Cassidy Hinds, Dylan Zampa, and Seth Wise. The younger Zampa had lost seventh to Wise at the initial start and could only gain that spot back on the final lap of the first half. Both previous 2022 winners fought loose racecars and were counting on adjustments at the break to move forward.
Coming out of the break, Cappello once again pulled out to a strong lead, as his car was good on the short runs. Erickson maintained second, but Tanner Reif began to move forward, moving around Logan Zampa on the restart. Dylan Zampa was also on the move, jumping to sixth on the restart, getting under Tyler Reif on lap 48 for fifth, and his brother Logan on lap 50. In the meantime, Erickson had run down Cappello again, challenging the two-time Spears Modified Series champion to his inside on lap 52. Unfortunately, contact between Tyler Reif and a fading Logan Zampa found Zampa into the front stretch wall, exiting Turn 4, ending the battle for the lead and the elder Zampa’s night.
A yellow a lap later for a three-wide incident between Christian Bazen, Frankie Muniz, and Cassidy Hinds, saw Hinds retire from damage incurred from the Turn #3 wall. The lap 55 restart saw Cappello back to the lead, with Tanner Reif advancing under Erickson to second. An incident in Turns #3 and #4 saw Seth Wise loosing multiple positions, falling to the rear of the lead lap cars, as Dylan Zampa also lost several spots. By lap 71, the elder Reif had closed to within two car lengths of Cappello, when the caution came out for an incident involving Hans Beeler and Dylan Zampa. Beeler pitted for damage from the front stretch wall, but Zampa advanced to sixth, behind Tyler Reif and Frankie Muniz.
The final restart found Cappello back to the lead, with the pack scrabbling behind him. Lap 75 saw Seth Wise getting under Dylan Zampa, as he lost momentum attempting a pass on Erickson on the low side for fourth. With two laps to go, Tanner Reif reached the back bumper of Cappello once again. On the final lap, Rief made one more attempt to wrestle the lead from Cappello in Turn #3. But Cappello was too strong in the outer groove, pulling ahead off Turn #4. Cappello crossed the line as the first repeat winner of the 2022 season, in a car he felt was good enough to win, starting further back.
“I think we were good enough that we could have started a little bit back there and drive up through (the field)”, Cappello explained. “We could fire off really good, and the first three or four laps we were really fast. I feel like our long run was alright, just enough to keep these guys that were a little bit faster behind us. We were really good tonight, and to come back and get some notes to make it a little bit better for next time. It was really fun.”
The next event for the Spears Pro Late Models presented by Sigma Performance Services will be at Irwindale Speedway on May 21st. They will join the Spears Modified Series on the inner 1/3-mile, as the Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series Super Late Models will compete on the ½-mile oval.
1. Dylan Cappello, 2. Tanner Reif, 3. Tyler Reif, 4. Bradley Erickson, 5. Seth Wise, 6. Dylan Zampa, 7. Kevin Furden, 8. Frankie Muniz, 9. Christian Bazen, 10. Zach Telford, 11. Hans Beeler, 12. Mike Beeler, 13. Cassidy Hinds, 14. Logan Zampa, 15. Brian Collins