Lawrenceburg, IN – Just like last year, Rico Abreu stood in victory lane at Lawrenceburg Speedway after a spirited 30-lap “Indiana Midget Week” feature on the high banks. The reigning Honda National Midget champion used a lap 21 restart for his first win of the season, making it four feature wins for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports with four different drivers this season.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. grabbed the early lead and led a high-speed breakaway on the cushion in the early circuits, as Jerry Coons, Jr. and Abreu stayed with him while Bryan Clauson moved from seventh to fourth in the early going.
On lap 12, Tracy Hines got turned over in turn-four to bring out the red flag. Hines walked to the ambulance. Coons used that restart to his advantage, as he fired a slide-job on Thomas for the top spot, with Abreu and Clauson scrambling to come along with him. By the caution for Isaac Chapple on lap 14, Thomas had been kicked back to fourth.
Just a lap later, Alex Bright went high in the air in turn-one, landing a monster flip in the middle of turns one and two. He took his time exiting the #56, but walked away.
Abreu tried his first slider on Coons at that restart, but Coons was ready for a battle. He fought off Abreu a couple times and put some distance between them, but Abreu regrouped and came back at him, finally able to hold off Coons’ crossover on lap 21. Coons lost some distance to Abreu and slowed on lap 24 with a flat left-rear tire. He visited the work area and restarted from the tail.
By that point, 15th-starting Tyler Thomas had passed two cars in one lap to enter the top-five and lined up behind Clauson in third for the restart with seven to go. He nailed the top and took second, but it appeared Abreu was too far out front. That changed with two to go as Ryan Bernal, who had been running inside the top-ten all race, nailed the turn-four wall, bringing out the final yellow.
Abreu got a good restart, and his teammate Kevin Thomas, Jr. threw a slider on Tyler Thomas for second, allowing Rico to pull away. Tyler Thomas crossed over, and Clauson hit the bottom to go back by Thomas, Jr., but it was all Abreu out front as he scored his ninth-career series win to tie Chuck Gurney, Tony Elliott & Billy Boat for 72nd on the all-time list. He also set the ProSource “Fast Time” earlier in the night aboard the Toyota TRD – Curb Records #67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I love the big moments, and it looks like we’re headed for another one tomorrow going against Bryan at his favorite track for the Midget Week title. It’s cool to come out on top tonight and hang in there with him; I know how much it would mean to me to win it, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night. We’ve been a top-three car all week and late-race restarts have been killing me, honestly. We got racing with Jerry and Bryan, and it was hard to tell who was gonna win the thing,” Abreu said.
Tyler Thomas finished off his fine run to earn another B&W Auto Mart “Hard Charger Award” while posting his best-career USAC National Midget finish aboard the American Racing Custom Wheels – BT Machine #91T Spike/Esslinger.
“I had an absolute blast tonight. We had an awesome race track to race on, and we have all week, to allow us to race our way up through the pack. We were good up on the curb and could go down and run the bottom a little bit too. We got to racing too hard with Clauson and Thomas to be able to make a run at the lead, but that was some of the most fun racing I’ve gotten to do. We couldn’t quite get away from them on the last restart to get our momentum up to try to make a run at Rico. I’m proud of how much better we’ve made our car after switching to Spike Chassis this year, and we’ve got it rolling now and I’m comfortable. We’re looking forward to Kokomo tomorrow and couldn’t be happier with how everything is going so far, but I’m ready for that first win,” Thomas said.
Clauson rounded out the podium in the Curb Records – Dooling Machine #63 Spike/Stanton Mopar and trails Abreu by one point going into the Midget Week finale at Kokomo Speedway on Sunday.
“We weren’t quite good enough to battle for the win tonight, and we had to pull out all the tricks to put ourselves up on the podium. The DNF in the heat race hurt us in the Midget Week points, but we’re going to Kokomo tomorrow with a shot at it. There’s no place I’d rather have a winner-take-all race for the Midget Week crown,” Clauson said.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. ended up fourth in the Toyota TRD – Bakken Concrete #67K Bullet/Speedway Toyota, and Chase Stockon rounded out the top-five with a late charge aboard the Jerome Rodela – Trench Shoring #25 Breka/Pink Toyota.
USAC HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET RACE RESULTS: June 13, 2015 – Lawrenceburg, IN – Lawrenceburg Speedway – “Indiana Midget Week”
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Rico Abreu, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-14.824; 2. Bryan Clauson, 63, RKR/Curb-Agajanian-14.938; 3. Spencer Bayston, 39, Clauson-14.956; 4. Andrew Felker, 11A, Felker-15.152; 5. Ryan Bernal, 2, Taylor-15.161; 6. Jerry Coons Jr., 27, Heffner-15,206; 7. Kevin Thomas Jr., 67k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.227; 8. Shane Cottle, 57, Ecker-15,228; 9. Brad Mosen, 1NZ, Buckley- 15.256; 10. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-15.268; 11. Brenden Bright, 92, Bright-15.274; 12. Chett Gehrke, 37, Felker-15.333; 13. Alex Bright, 56, Hmiel-15.379; 14. Chase Stockon, 25K, Rodela-15.404; 15. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-15.424; 16. Tyler Courtney, 7K, Irwin-15.430; 17. Hayden Williams, 27NZ, HLR-15.526; 18. Ronnie Gardner, 37x, Felker-15.605; 19. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-15.789; 20. Brett Thomas, 69, Thomas-16.028; 21. Nick Rowe, 5F, Daum-16.370; 22. Ted Hines, 51, Bailey-16.567; 23. David Budres, 31, Manic-16.741; 24. Darren Hagen, 17, Brown-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. A.Bright, 2. K.Thomas Jr., 3. Courtney, 4. Abreu, 5. Felker, 6. Tracy Hines, 7. Chapple, 8. Budres. 2:06.65
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. S.Cottle, 2. Stockon, 3. B.Bright, 4. Bernal, 5. Williams, 6. Hagen (#69), 7. Rowe, 8. Clauson. 2:06.31
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. T.Thomas, 2. Mosen 3. Bayston, 4. Coons, 5. Gardner, 6. Gehrke, 7. Ted Hines. 2:08.40
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Rico Abreu, 2. Tyler Thomas, 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Andrew Felker, 7. Hayden Williams, 8. Brad Mosen, 9. Darren Hagen, 10. Shane Cottle, 11. Jerry Coons Jr., 12. Ronnie Gardner, 13. Chett Gehrke, 14. Brenden Bright, 15. Tyler Courtney, 16. Isaac Chapple, 17. Nick Rowe, 18. David Budres, 19. Ryan Bernal, 20. Alex Bright, 21. Spencer Bayston, 22. Tracy Hines, 23. Ted Hines. NT
**Tracy Hines flipped on lap 12 of the feature. A.Bright flipped on lap 15 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 K.Thomas, Laps 12-20 Coons, Laps 21-30 Abreu.
NEW HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET POINTS: 1-Hines-304, 2-K.Thomas Jr.-295, 3-T.Thomas-295, 4-Coons-287, 5-Hagen-266, 6-Abreu-257, 7-Bayston-250, 8-Tanner Thorson-218, 9-Dave Darland-159, 10-Christopher Bell-151.
NEW INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Abreu-257, 2-Clauson-256, 3-T.Thomas-202, 4-K.Thomas Jr.-198, 5-Coons-197, 6-Stockon-182, 7-Hines-173, 8-Bayston-170, 9-Christopher Bell-152, 10-Mosen-137.
NEXT HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET RACE: June 14 – Kokomo (IN) Speedway – “Indiana Midget Week”
Story: USAC PR – Photo: Travis Branch