Sometimes history repeats itself. Sometimes that can be a good thing, and sometimes that can be a bad thing. For Rico Abreu at the Chili Bowl Nationals, it seems so far like it’s a great thing.
For the second straight year, Abreu raced on Wednesday night. For the second straight year, Abreu started the A-Main from the sixth position. And for the second straight year, Abreu drove his No. 97 Keith Kunz Motorsports machine into tight circles as he did victory donuts in turn four.
“I believe last year that was how it went too,” said Abreu. “We started sixth last year in the feature and started sixth this year. That’s kind of a good spot as long as you win them. You’ve got to win them. I feel like you have to win every time you’re on the track here. Tonight went really smooth.”
For the first half of the race it appeared as though Tyler Thomas would have the car to beat. Thomas could put his car anywhere on the race track and it would be fast. But then Abreu caught him.
And even when Abreu caught Thomas, Abreu was unable to make a move for a few laps. The top two started to catch the tail-end of the field, and it seemed like that would be what Abreu would need to take over the top spot.
Then a caution came out right at the midway point of the race, and that changed everything.
Abreu dove to the bottom in turn one on the restart, threw a big slider on Thomas and took over the lead.
From there it was Abreu’s race to lose.
He almost did lose the race when one car went for a flip in turn one just ahead of him. Luckily enough for Abreu, the car of Kyle Clark flipped out of Abreu’s way.
“I was a little spooked there,” Abreu said. “Your entry into one is so slick just because of the push trucks consistently driving off there. I honestly didn’t think I would get it slowed down enough to miss him. But he actually rolled towards the wall instead of back out onto the track. That definitely saved my ass there.”
Eventually Abreu was forced to hold off Thomas in a two-lap dash for the win. Thomas tried to throw a slider on Abreu, but just wasn’t close enough to make it work.
Abreu held on to score the victory with Thomas in second and Thomas Meseraull in third. Parker Price-Miller and Austin Brown completed the top five.
Now Abreu has his sights set on Saturday night and winning a second Golden Driller. He doesn’t race again until Saturday’s main event 55-lap race.
Can history repeat itself again on Saturday night for Abreu? He certainly is as confident as he was one year ago.
“Any time you lock into that A-Main on Saturday you have a lot of confidence,” Abreu said. “I just want to pace myself throughout the feature and be there for the last ten laps.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Dave Biro/Speed51.com
Chili Bowl Nationals River Spirit Qualifying Night
River Spirit Expo Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
1. 97-Rico Abreu; 2. 91T-Tyler Thomas; 3. 2X-Thomas Meseraull; 4. 9P-Parker Price-Miller; 5. 7B-Austin Brown; 6. 5S-Chase Stockon; 7. 8K-Blake Hahn; 8. 68W-Jake Swanson; 9. 92-Brenden Bright; 10. 8-Alex Sewell; 11. 50-Daniel Adler; 12. 25-Steve Buckwalter; 13. 17D-Alex DeCamp; 14. 6K-Josh Lakatos; 15. 57D-Daniel Robinson; 16. 05T-Gary Taylor; 17. 69-A.J. Fike; 18. 1-Sammy Swindell; 19. (DNF) 51X-Colby Copeland; 20. (DNF) 11-Tyler Courtney; 21. (DNF) 73-Jason McDougal; 22. (DNF) 39C-Payton Pierce; 23. (DNF) 99W-Larry Wight; 24. (DNF) 9$-Kyle Clark