TULARE, Calif. – Rico Abreu did it all at Thunderbowl Raceway during the 26th annual Abreu Vineyards Trophy Cup presented by Rudeen Racing.
After preliminary wins on Thursday and Friday, Abreu won the 50-lap Saturday night main event along with the event championship, earning $26,000 over three days of racing.
The final night of Trophy Cup assigned the top 48 point cars to heat races. These very tough 10-lap sprints featured a complete inversion by points. The standard 36 points to win with a three-point drop was used.
After the six heats, the top 20 in points went directly to the main event regardless of finishing position. The next 20 in points earned B-main starting spots, and the final eight went to the C main, joined by transfers from D-main racing.
With the top 48 in points assigned to a heat, the remainder of the 78 cars on hand were split into a trio of D mains. The evening started with these mains, moving the top four from each to the C main.
Six heats followed, offering an opportunity to earn more points to improve main event positioning. Abreu had a larger than usual point lead starting the evening, six points over Shane Golobic and seven ahead of his teammate, Jac Haudenschild.
Abreu’s lead evaporated after two heats, when Golobic finished fourth to Abreu’s sixth to tie in points at 304.
Third in points, Haudenschild was caught up in a nowhere-to-go situation in his heat and lost ground with a DNF and fewer points.
Kyle Hirst was high point car in heat four and finished second from eighth to take the point lead at 305. Willie Croft’s win from seventh put him near the top at 300.
Heat five was Jonathan Allard’s heat, and he helped himself with a fourth, leaving him six points behind Hirst.
The final heat continued the trend when Cory Eliason won from eighth to tie Hirst for the point lead, creating a cluster of drivers at or very near the top.
With only one B main, the field was even stronger. When Bud Kaeding blew a motor on lap 24, Tim Shaffer and D.J. Netto got caught in the smoke and oil. Shaffer had a flat and Netto hit the wall hard, and third through fifth in the order lost their transfer chance.
Finishing the last two laps sent Mitch Moles, Buddy Kofoid, Randy Hannagan, and Jason Statler to the A main. Statler transferred out of the C main and ran the entire 50 lap finale to finish 16th after 95 laps of main event racing.
With a 20 invert by points, Hirst and Eliason filled row 10 while Abreu and Shane Golobic started in row nine. With one point separating the two rows, the champion was likely be one of those four. The A main paid 150 points with a three-point drop per position.
Aaron Reutzel led from the pole at the start with Jason Solwold and Chase Johnson in pursuit. Johnson took second on lap three with a low-line drive into turn one, while contender Croft got spun and hit, ending his night.
Tim Kaeding moved into third on lap 11, driving the high side out of turn four on the same lap that Abreu used the low line into turn one to pass Golobic and take the point lead.
The last 39 laps had Abreu in front of his three main challengers, and he was in the point lead during that period. Abreu kept two cars between himself and Golobic and a yellow on lap 32 led to the planned fuel stop.
Lap 35 was tough for Johnson, when he flipped in turn two after running 33 laps in second. The restart had Reutzel continuing to lead, with Solwold now second and Haudenschild in third.
The question became would Abreu collect his third win, and after some slider trading, Abreu was up to second on lap 39 with Tim Kaeding close behind.
Abreu closed on Reutzel, eliminating a substantial lead in six laps, and Reutzel bounced off of the turn-two wall on lap 44 to open the door for Abreu.
Reutzel recovered in time to hold onto second, but Abreu was gone and led the last seven laps for the sweep.
Reutzel finished second, Tim Kaeding was third, Solwold took fourth and Haudenschild completed the top five.
Abreu’s history-making Trophy Cup performance had never been accomplished before. He won main events from fifth, 10th and 17th.
The Saturday payout is listed at $109,505 but will be considerably more. The Trophy Cup champion is guaranteed $26,000 and money will be added to the amount won to reach that level.
Each Saturday A-main starter is automatically part of the point fund and will receive a minimum of $5,000 for the three days of racing. About half of the A-main field will be paid additionally above the standard purse amount to reach the $5,000 total earned.
Between the normal payout and the added payout, the total purse was roughly $200,000.
The 2020 Trophy Cup will take place at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway Oct. 15-17.
Rico Abreu, Aaron Reutzel, Tim Kaeding, Jason Solwold, Jac Haudenschild, Shane Golobic, Mitchell Faccinto, Kyle Hirst, Cory Eliason, Justin Sanders, Ryan Bernal, Jonathan Allard, Buddy Kofoid, Colby Copeland, Randy Hannagan, Jason Statler, Mitch Moles, Chase Johnson, Justyn Cox, Dominic Scelzi, Kalib Henry, Willie Croft, Colton Heath, Paul McMahan.