Dylan Cappello started his racing career on a Big Wheel when he was 4. Now he's 21 and trying to lay the groundwork to become a big wheel in professional motor sports. Cappello, a rookie in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart, has demonstrated in just four races with the Garcia Racing team that he has the potential to someday reach his goal.
He finished 22nd due to mechanical problems in the season opener at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, March 1, then qualified second and was leading late in the March 22 race at Tucson, Arizona, before distributor failure relegated him to 11th place. He was fifth at Blythe, California, April 19, and second at Las Vegas May 17, one night after graduating from Liberty High School in Peoria, Arizona.
He is seventh in the Hoosier Tire West point standings, 4 points ahead of teammate Tripp Gaylord and 20 points behind fifth-place Jim Mardis.
"I think we're definitely doing the right stuff," Cappello said. "We're putting ourselves in good positions during the race. I think we'll definitely be there for a win soon."
Cappello, who plans to attend Northern Arizona University and work toward an engineering degree, has been chasing wins since he was 4 or 5 and raced other children on Big Wheels during intermissions at the sportsman drag racing events where his father Danny Cappello competed. Dylan was planning to go bracket racing, too, until he saw go karts and decided he'd rather drive one of those than a Junior Dragster.
He did pretty well in karts, too, until mom Shellie told him to get into something with a roll cage for protection and he switched to Quarter Midgets, and did very well.
"In the quarter midgets we were all across the country. We went to all the national events," Cappello said. "I won seven national events in that, then went to (600cc) Modified Midgets, stayed mostly in-state and won rookie of the year. We went to the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Shootout, which is like the biggest race, and made it to the A main my first year and got 11th in that. Then we went to the Legends.
"In the Legends we ran the (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) Bullring point series. I got the state championship and we went back to the national and I think I got 11th in that also. Now we're into the Modifieds.
"We were thinking it was just kind of the next natural step up after the Legends, trying to get into a big car, and we knew some people that were running them so we tried out a car. We ran a couple of races (with Keegan Walmer and K&K Motorsports) at All-American Speedway (in Roseville, California) and then we wanted to get into the Lucas Oil series. It's a lot more competition."
Cappello, who has plans to go to North Carolina for a few races there, said his dad and team owner Mike Garcia started talking on the final weekend of the Lucas Oil Modified season at Las Vegas in November and put a deal together during the winter.
Now, having proven himself a contender, Cappello is anxious to take the next step. He said that so far the hardest thing to learn is "mostly just saving the tires. It's mostly just being there for the end and all the veterans, like (Chris) Gerchman and Austin Barnes, know how to do that really well.
"It's really just (a matter of) getting a lot of seat time and kind of knowing when to go and when to save your stuff and sit back."
Age: 21 (17 January 1996)
Lives in: Peoria, Arizona
Marital status: Single
Car number: 11
Type of chassis: STR
Crew Chief: Mike Garcia
Sponsors: Sears Garage Doors, BILSTEIN Suspension, Garcia Racing, STR
Years in racing: 15
Divisions raced: Quarter Midgets, Mini Sprints, Legends Cars, Modifieds, Lucas Oil Modifieds
Titles and awards: 8-time national champion, 5-time Gasoline Alley champion
Series point standings: First season