TULARE, Calif. — The 26th annual Abreu Vineyards Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing opened the three-day event at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway on Thursday and Rico Abreu captured the 30-lap feature for winged 360 sprints.
Abreu took the lead on the last corner to earn the $4,000 winner’s pay as well as 100 points. The purse for Thursday night was $29,630
The 30-lapper started with a narrow track but as laps were scored a racier surface developed.
Paul McMahan led from outside front row with Kyle Hirst and Ryan Bernal in pursuit. Freddie Rahmer found the turn 1 wall as did Justin Sanders three laps later.
Cox dropped out by lap 11 and McMahan’s lead ended on lap 15 when Hirst used a topside drive out of turn 4 to take over.
A furious three-car race for the win made for a few exciting laps before Jac Haudenschild used turn-four sliders to move from 4th to the lead on lap 24. When Rico Abreu took second from Hirst with a low line drive into turn one, team cars were set to duel for the win.
It came down the last corner when Abreu slid Haudenschild in turn four and won the race to the finish line by three feet. Hirst was third ahead of Shane Golobic and Cory Eliason.
Abreu added 100 points to his total to take the lead in the race for the Cup title.
An 89-car field jammed the pit area and was split into two groups for qualifying. Each group had a fast time, therefore two drivers earned 150 points in qualifying with a one-point drop per position.
Four invert six heats for the fastest 40 qualifiers in each group were held sending the heat winner plus the highest point car directly to the night’s A main. Winning a heat earned 36 points with a three-point drop per position.
After the eight heats moved 16 cars to the A main grid, all remaining cars were assigned to a main event with the top 40 in points filling the front 10 rows of two B mains. The pair of B mains inverted six by points and moved the top four to the night’s 30-lap A main.
The A-main lineup inverted 12 by points with 100 points going to the winner with a two point drop per position.
Justyn Cox led group A qualifiers with a 13.672 to edge Aaron Reutzel’s 13.694.
Willie Croft, Colby Copeland and Kyle Hirst completed the top five.
Group B qualifying fastest was two-time event champion, Shane Golobic, with a 13.789 lap. Jonathan Allard was .014 behind followed by Cory Eliason, Cole Macedo, and Jason Solwold.
Heat race action was frantic at times as drivers dueled for the win and A main transfer. The fastest qualifier was the high point transfer from each heat and Rico Abreu won his heat plus was high point.
C main racing put two drivers at the rear of each B main creating tough 22-car fields. Each B main transfer lines up in the A main based on point totals.
Invert 6 B mains moved four onward and Justin Sanders won the first B followed by Chase Johnson, Paul McMahan, and Kyle Hirst.
The second B main completed the 24-car A main field with Colton Hardy taking the win with a smooth drive. Jason Solwold, Mitchell Faccinto from 16th starting and Dominic Scelzi with a last turn pass finished the transfer list.
The top 12 in points were inverted to fill the first six rows with just 10 points separating those dozen drivers.
Top 10 in points: Rico Abreu 283, Shane Golobic 277, Jac Haudenschild 276, Kyle Hirst 272, Cory Eliason 267, Colby Copeland 265, Willie Croft 264, Paul McMahan 264, Ryan Bernal 257, Tim Kaeding 254