SOMERTON, Ariz. — With lightning dancing across the desert floor and the smell of rain thick in the air, Rico Abreu celebrated his first Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Series victory in only his second start with the series Friday at Cocopah Speedway.
“This is incredible,” said Abreu about his $3,000 payday.
Leading from the drop of the green, the Rutherford, Calif., driver set the pace until lap 18. Surrendering the lead in traffic, fifth starting Roger Crockett found the rubber and a clear groove, assuming the point and pulling away but would ultimately end up third.
Working to the white flag, Abreu followed Roger Crockett across the stripe. Sliding off the bottom groove entering turn one for the final time, Crockett sat helpless with the car sliding across the racing surface.
With tires spinning through the second turn, Abreu raced by the Rocket Designs No. 11 with Crockett appearing to have more problems as the checkered flag waved, surrendering second to Christopher Bell at the line.
“I though he missed it. The bottom was really clean around one and two and I thought he just missed it, but he thought the race was over,” said Abreu. “They throw that crossed flag before they throw the white. I just watched him. I didn’t know what was going on and snuck by him on the backstretch and made sure I hit my marks at the end.”
Asked if he knew Bell was closing in to challenge before the races lone caution on lap five, Abreu replied, “I knew he was going to be up top so I took the top there after the caution and just tried to keep my car as straight as I could. It was a really slick track; hard to keep your tires underneath you, but the farther I got my wing back the better I was.”
The series’ 137th winner, Abreu finished 1.197 seconds ahead of Bell.
“We had a really good racecar tonight,” said Bell who graced the controls of Brandon Berryman’s No. 31b. “There before the yellow, I was kind of reeling Rico in and when I saw Paul Silva in the track opening down there in turn three saying go to the top, then Rico got real good at the top of one and two and it was just so slow to have to run the bottom.”
Even with everything happening on the final lap, Crockett still finds himself locked into Saturday’s $10,000-to-win event with a third-place showing.
Passing for fourth on lap eight after starting 10th, Brian Brown nearly missed the final transfer into Saturday’s A-Feature.
Working by the Casey’s General Store / FVP No. 21 with four laps to run, Brad Loyet worked to keep Brown at bay in the closing laps. Going side-by-side off the final turn, the pair crossed under the checkered flag wheel-to-wheel with Brown crossing 0.016 seconds to the good over Loyet.
Loyet complete the top five with Johnny Herrera slipping back to sixth.
Rico Abreu, Christopher Bell, Roger Crockett, Brian Brown, Brad Loyet, Johnny Herrera, Jason Johnson, Logan Forler, Bryan Clauson, Wayne Johnson, Seth Bergman, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Jeff Swindell, Aaron Reutzel, Henry VanDam, Reece Goetz, Blake Hahn, Rick Ziehl, Glenn Styres, Joshua Williams, Cole Wood, Joe Wood Jr., Tony Bruce Jr., Matt Covington.