Before the A-Main feature on the second night of action at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, Rico Abreu sat in his car, closed his eyes and enjoyed a rare moment of serenity.  He was visualizing what he had to do over the course of the next 25 laps to lock himself into Saturday night’s main event.  Or, Abreu was sleeping, if you listen to third-place finisher J.J. Yeley.

 

Well, whatever Abreu did before the race worked for him as he drove his way into victory lane at the end of a thrilling feature on Wednesday night at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

Abreu started sixth, and slowly made his way through the top-five before a caution with seven laps to go set up a battle between Abreu and polesitter Chris Windom.  Abreu made the outside groove of the race track work for him as he swung by Windom along the cushion.

 

rico abreu tony stewart chili bowl

Rico Abreu is congratulated by Tony Stewart after his win on Wednesday night. (Speed51.com Photo)

He quickly started to drive away from Windom and the rest of the top-five who battled behind him, but then he caught the tail-end of the field.  After seeing Zach Daum lead most of the feature the previous night only to get caught up with a lapped car, Abreu hoped nothing similar would happen to him.

 

“You get those lapped cars running side-by-side in front of you and then you worry about the guys behind you catching you and running you down,” said Abreu.  “You just hope they all race each other clean.”

 

Abreu made his way through the traffic incident-free to score the win over Windom and Yeley who locked down the other two transfer spots into Saturday night’s feature event.

 

After two nights of racing action, the six drivers locked into Saturday’s feature are Abreu, Windom, Yeley, Kyle Larson, Brad Loyet, and Spencer Bayston.

 

One driver who failed to lock himself into the big show is five-time Chili Bowl champion, Sammy Swindell.  Swindell had a muffler fall off of his car three laps into his heat race, which resulted in him being parked for the rest of his heat by race officials.

 

That meant that for the second night in a row a high profile driver would have to go through the alphabet soup to try to lock into the main event on Saturday.

 

Swindell won his D-main race to advance to the C-main where he finished second to Gary Taylor and moved on to the B-main.

 

In the second B-main, Swindell started in the second to last row but quickly made his way through the field.  Swindell took the win again and advanced into the A-main, but would have to come through the field again.

 

Swindell quickly worked his way through the field, but he was able to get no higher than fifth-place.  He missed an automatic transfer spot by two positions.

 

Swindell failing to advance brought joy to much of the crowd at the expo center, but more of their joy came from seeing Abreu win.

 

Abreu took a polish victory lap to salute the fans, but also was done in memory of Donnie Ray Crawford III.  Crawford was very good friends with Christopher Bell, Abreu’s friend and teammate.  Crawford was murdered the night before the 2012 Chili Bowl.

 

“Christopher Bell was very close to him,” said Abreu.  “They said that if I won tonight I should do it.  It’s pretty special.”

 

-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount

-Photo Credit: Speed51.com

 

Results:

Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire
Tulsa Expo Raceway – Tulsa, Okla.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
River Spirit Casino Qualifying Night

Car Count: 83

Budweiser Heat Races: Top 40 in passing points advance to Qualifiers.

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 91T-Tyler Thomas[1]; 2. 55D-Nick Drake[2]; 3. 19J-Jonathan Cornell[7]; 4. 7JR-Robert Black[3]; 5. 88J-Jace VanderWeerd[8]; 6. 3FF-Jake Blackhurst[6]; 7. 62-Jacob Davis[4]; 8. (DNF) 7M-Kevin Ramey[5]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 4F-Chad Frewaldt[1]; 2. 38-Justin Grant[3]; 3. 35T-Tyler Robbins[6]; 4. 56J-Isaac Schreurs[2]; 5. 44-Don Droud Jr[5]; 6. 05T-Gary Taylor[8]; 7. 7J-Shawn Jackson[7]; 8. (DNF) 85-Matt Johnson[4]

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 2K-Kyle Jones[1]; 2. 82-Eric Johnson[2]; 3. 62T-Taylor Simas[8]; 4. 7CG-Logan Jarrett[4]; 5. 88W-Chad Wheeler[7]; 6. (DNF) 35Z-Zach Hampton[6]; 7. (DNF) 68S-Matt Land[5]; 8. 1-Sammy Swindell[3]….(Swindell DQ’d for losing a Muffler during competition)

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 92-Brenden Bright[4]; 2. 23A-Hannah Adair[1]; 3. 8-Alex Sewell[6]; 4. 4K-Josh Lakatos[7]; 5. 19L-Landon Hurst[8]; 6. 14W-Matt Westfall[5]; 7. 45K-Chase Allen[2]; 8. (DNF) 5A-Ashley Hazelton[3]

Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 37X-Tim Kent[1]; 2. 91-Jeff Stasa[3]; 3. 70K-Kevin Olson[2]; 4. 1T-Tony Roney[8]; 5. 11D-Dustin Hapka[4]; 6. 43-Logan Arnold[6]; 7. 7S-Pat Schudy[7]; 8. 51M-Michael Curtis[5]

Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 10C-Dalton Camfield[1]; 2. 17C-Casey Shuman[4]; 3. 18P-Payton Pierce[3]; 4. 75X-Travis Berryhill[6]; 5. 77-John Klabunde[5]; 6. 35W-Nate Wait[2]; 7. 55S-Jerry McGehee[8]; 8. D6-Dakota Gains[7]

Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 5E-James Edens[1]; 2. 8K-Blake Hahn[4]; 3. 9E-Brody Roa[6]; 4. 7T-Tanner Berryhill[5]; 5. 51X-Colby Copeland[7]; 6. 20X-Jimmy Harris[2]; 7. 7F-Claud Estes III[3]

Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 63K-Chris Windom[6]; 2. 12-Chris Sheil[1]; 3. 17D-Alex DeCamp[4]; 4. 4M-Ty Hulsey[3]; 5. (DNF) 16C-David Camfield Jr[5]; 6. (DNF) 55-Nick Knepper[7]; 7. (DNF) 2X-Charlie McDonald[2]

Heat 9 (8 Laps): 1. 66-Shane Cockrum[1]; 2. 9P-Parker Price-Miller[5]; 3. 13SR-John Ricketts[4]; 4. 14D-David McIntosh[7]; 5. 27RW-Kyle O’Gara[3]; 6. 5T-Tom Everhart[6]; 7. (DNF) 32-Cale Thomas[2]

Heat 10 (8 Laps): 1. 1ST-J.J. Yeley[1]; 2. 11W-Brady Bacon[3]; 3. 7B-Austin Brown[6]; 4. 7AB-Amber Balcaen[2]; 5. 33H-Cameron Hagin[4]; 6. 8M-Kade Morton[7]; 7. 15-Tim Siner[5]

Heat 11 (8 Laps): 1. 97-Rico Abreu[1]; 2. 73T-Trey Marcham[2]; 3. 68W-Jake Swanson[7]; 4. 15W-Brandon Waelti[5]; 5. 4C-Chadd Howell[6]; 6. 25D-Dylan Petersen[4]; 7. (DNF) 14R-Jody Rosenboom[3]

D-Features: Top 2 advance to corresponding C-Feature.

D Feature 1 (10 Laps): 1. 7M-Kevin Ramey[8]; 2. 15-Tim Siner[4]; 3. 85-Matt Johnson[9]; 4. 7S-Pat Schudy[3]; 5. 25D-Dylan Petersen[1]; 6. 7F-Claud Estes III[5]; 7. 20X-Jimmy Harris[2]; 8. (DNF) 5A-Ashley Hazelton[10]; 9. (DNF) 45K-Chase Allen[6]; DNS 32-Cale Thomas

D Feature 2 (10 Laps): 1. 1-Sammy Swindell[9]; 2. 35W-Nate Wait[1]; 3. 68S-Matt Land[3]; 4. D6-Dakota Gains[7]; 5. 14R-Jody Rosenboom[5]; 6. 51M-Michael Curtis[8]; 7. (DNF) 7J-Shawn Jackson[2]; 8. (DNF) 62-Jacob Davis[4]; 9. (DNF) 2X-Charlie McDonald[6]

C-Features: Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature.

C Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 51X-Colby Copeland[2]; 2. 15W-Brandon Waelti[1]; 3. 7M-Kevin Ramey[13]; 4. 7JR-Robert Black[3]; 5. 14W-Matt Westfall[12]; 6. 3FF-Jake Blackhurst[10]; 7. 15-Tim Siner[14]; 8. 8M-Kade Morton[9]; 9. 4C-Chadd Howell[4]; 10. 7AB-Amber Balcaen[5]; 11. 43-Logan Arnold[11]; 12. (DNF) 44-Don Droud Jr[6]; 13. (DNF) 33H-Cameron Hagin[8]; 14. (DNF) 16C-David Camfield Jr[7]

C Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 05T-Gary Taylor[5]; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell[13]; 3. 88W-Chad Wheeler[1]; 4. 4M-Ty Hulsey[3]; 5. 27RW-Kyle O’Gara[9]; 6. 11D-Dustin Hapka[7]; 7. 77-John Klabunde[6]; 8. 35W-Nate Wait[14]; 9. 7CG-Logan Jarrett[2]; 10. 55-Nick Knepper[8]; 11. 56J-Isaac Schreurs[4]; 12. 55S-Jerry McGehee[12]; 13. 5T-Tom Everhart[11]; 14. (DNF) 35Z-Zach Hampton[10]

Qualifiers: Top 16 in combined passing points advance to the A-Feature.

Qualifier 1 (10 Laps): 1. 97-Rico Abreu[1]; 2. 91T-Tyler Thomas[3]; 3. 63K-Chris Windom[6]; 4. 11W-Brady Bacon[7]; 5. 10C-Dalton Camfield[2]; 6. 19J-Jonathan Cornell[5]; 7. 19L-Landon Hurst[10]; 8. 17D-Alex DeCamp[9]; 9. 82-Eric Johnson[8]; 10. (DNF) 35T-Tyler Robbins[4]

Qualifier 2 (10 Laps): 1. 1T-Tony Roney[1]; 2. 73T-Trey Marcham[8]; 3. 68W-Jake Swanson[5]; 4. 5E-James Edens[2]; 5. 8-Alex Sewell[4]; 6. 92-Brenden Bright[6]; 7. 4K-Josh Lakatos[7]; 8. 18P-Payton Pierce[10]; 9. 13SR-John Ricketts[9]; 10. (DNF) 4F-Chad Frewaldt[3]

Qualifier 3 (10 Laps): 1. 38-Justin Grant[1]; 2. 66-Shane Cockrum[2]; 3. 17C-Casey Shuman[5]; 4. 75X-Travis Berryhill[9]; 5. 62T-Taylor Simas[6]; 6. 9E-Brody Roa[4]; 7. 2K-Kyle Jones[3]; 8. 14D-David McIntosh[7]; 9. 70K-Kevin Olson[10]; 10. 23A-Hannah Adair[8]

Qualifier 4 (10 Laps): 1. 1ST-J.J. Yeley[2]; 2. 8K-Blake Hahn[5]; 3. 7B-Austin Brown[4]; 4. 37X-Tim Kent[3]; 5. 88J-Jace VanderWeerd[9]; 6. 12-Chris Sheil[8]; 7. 55D-Nick Drake[7]; 8. 91-Jeff Stasa[1]; 9. (DNF) 9P-Parker Price-Miller[6]; 10. (DNF) 7T-Tanner Berryhill[10]

B-Features: Top 4 advance to the A-Feature.

B Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 88J-Jace VanderWeerd[1]; 2. 5E-James Edens[2]; 3. 19L-Landon Hurst[5]; 4. 51X-Colby Copeland[13]; 5. 12-Chris Sheil[4]; 6. 91-Jeff Stasa[9]; 7. 15W-Brandon Waelti[14]; 8. 7M-Kevin Ramey[15]; 9. 9P-Parker Price-Miller[7]; 10. 19J-Jonathan Cornell[3]; 11. 2K-Kyle Jones[6]; 12. 23A-Hannah Adair[12]; 13. 13SR-John Ricketts[10]; 14. 7JR-Robert Black[16]; 15. (DNF) 18P-Payton Pierce[8]; 16. (DNF) 35T-Tyler Robbins[11]

B Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 1-Sammy Swindell[14]; 2. 55D-Nick Drake[6]; 3. 37X-Tim Kent[1]; 4. 9E-Brody Roa[4]; 5. 05T-Gary Taylor[13]; 6. 7T-Tanner Berryhill[12]; 7. 10C-Dalton Camfield[3]; 8. 17D-Alex DeCamp[7]; 9. 88W-Chad Wheeler[15]; 10. 4M-Ty Hulsey[16]; 11. 14D-David McIntosh[8]; 12. 4K-Josh Lakatos[5]; 13. 4F-Chad Frewaldt[11]; 14. 82-Eric Johnson[9]; 15. 70K-Kevin Olson[10]; 16. (DNF) 8-Alex Sewell[2]

A-Feature: Top 3 advance to Saturday’s A-Feature.

A-Feature (25 Laps) Top 10: 1. 97-Rico Abreu [6]; 2. 63K-Chris Windom [1]; 3. 1ST-J.J. Yeley [4]; 4. 8K- Blake Hahn [3]; 5. 1-Sammy Swindell [18]; 6. 73T-Trey Marcham [2]; 7. 17C-Casey Shuman [8]; 8. 51X- Colby Copeland [23]; 9. 91T-Tyler Thomas [9]; 10. 11W-Brady Bacon [10]

Abreu Scores Popular Win on Chili Bowl’s Second Night