JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — Rico Abreu drove to his third victory of the season in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Cale Thomas led all 20 laps en route to his fifth win of 2013 in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series in Herb Barlow Memorial features Friday at quarter-mile Jacksonville Speedway.
Abreu, driving a Toyota-powered Bullet for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, started seventh and took the lead from teammate Tanner Thorson with three laps remaining. Thorson, a 17-year-old from Minden, Nev., led the opening 27 laps, but pressure from Abreu forced him to slide high on the exit of turn four and hit the outside wall with his right rear tire several laps in a row. The tire went flat at the start of the 28th lap, bringing out a caution when Thorson hit the wall in turn one and stopped.
“When I got to Thorson, I put a slide job on him and we ran up the track,” Abreu said. “I tried to give him room, but he ran out of room.”
Abreu’s victory was his sixth in 21 events in POWRi Midgets the past two seasons.
“This win is up there with all of them,” the 21-year-old said. “I love to win races. I drive for a great team with (team manager) Keith Willoughby and Keith Kunz building and preparing the cars so well. I had a good car at the start and adjusted the shocks out halfway through to make it better.”
Chris Bell, also a Kunz/Curb-Agajanian driver, finished second in his Bullet-Toyota. The 18-year-old started sixth, ran as high as second and never worse than third. Abreu passed him for second on the 24th lap.
“Second was a pretty cool finish,” Bell said. “I was in the wrong place the wrong time. Rico made a good move on Tanner.”
Dave Darland finished third in the RW Motorsports’ Beast-Fontana, climbing from 14th on the grid.
“I’m pretty happy with it, 14th to third,” Darland said. “I bounced off Thorson when he crashed. It was very close, but I was able to avoid crashing. We had a couple of quality cars go out.”
Bryan Clauson was running second when he dropped out with mechanical problems on the 18th lap. Darren Hagen started on pole and faded quickly with a four-cylinder engine that was running on three, retired early. Brad Kuhn was running fourth when Thorson crashed and Kuhn couldn’t avoid him.
POWRi Midget championship leader Zach Daum and second-place Andrew Felker had to go through the semifinal to advance to the feature. Daum started 18th and finished fifth in his Eagle-Toyota and Felker started 17th and finished seventh in his Spike-Fontana. Daum gained 20 points on Felker, increasing his advantage to 260 points, 3,660-3,400, with seven events remaining.
Thomas, championship rival Nathan Benson and Aaron Andruskevich started, ran and finished in that order for the entire 20 laps. The 15-year-old from Fairland, Ind., driving a Sawyer with Momo Engler injected-Suzuki, increased his lead over Benson to 150 points, 2,340-2,190, with four events remaining.
“It’s a big win for us, the first on a quarter-mile track against the strong competition of POWRi,” Thomas said. “We’re just trying get good finishes, top threes, and take wins as they come.”
Rico Abreu, Chris Bell, Dave Darland, Hunter Schuerenberg, Zach Daum, Austin Brown, Andrew Felker, Parker Price-Miller, Daniel Robinson, Jake Neuman, Ryan Criswell, Tyler Thomas, Garrett Aitken, Tanner Thorson, Brad Kuhn, Bryan Clauson, John Campbell, Darren Hagen, Colten Cottle, Dave Camfield, Davey Ray Derrick Myers, Terry Babb.