Rico Rules Peter Murphy Classic

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Rico Abreu
Rico Abreu (Joe Shivak photo)

TULARE, Calif. — Rico Abreu led all 30 laps en route victory in Friday’s Sprint Car Challenge Tour-sanctioned opening night of the Peter Murphy Classic at Thunderbowl Raceway.

He drove the family owned Abreu Vineyards No. 24 car to beat out Dominic Scelzi and Kyle Hirst at the historic fairgrounds dirt oval.

Recent college graduate D.J. Netto brought his No. 88n home in the fourth spot ahead of Shane Golobic.

The race got off to a rocky start when coming around to complete the first lap, Abreu, Tony Gualda and Scelzi were three wide heading out of the turn. Contact between Abreu and Gualda resulted in a flat right rear tire for Gualda and by the time he reached the starter’s stand, he slowed dramatically in front of the whole starting field.

A mad scramble to avoid the helpless car ended up being hit in the fuel tank splitting it open, dumping a full load of alcohol on the track going into the first turn. The Thunderbowl safety crew did an excellent job of foaming down the fuel spill without any flare up.

Meanwhile, the EMT crew attended to Gualda who was placed in an ambulance on a backboard. He was complaining of neck and head pain and transported to the hospital. The wreck knocked out Landon Hurst and Justyn Cox, with Bud Kaeding, Ryan Bernal and Tim Kaeding all having to replace flat tires.

The race would restart, but the track would quickly go red again for a Blake Carrick and Danny Faria tangle in the middle of the backstretch.  Both cars had to be towed off the track, ending each’s race.

On the restart, Kyle Offill would bring out a caution for his single car spin coming out of the fourth turn.  When the race resumed, it would register five laps before Bernal caused a yellow when he slowed on the front stretch.

By lap eight, the track began to take rubber. Jared Faria nearly caused a caution when he did a 360-degree spin in the fourth turn. With the surface becoming more of a one groove track, laps began to click off easy with little to no passing among the leaders.

The race’s final caution lights came on in lap 24 for a single car spin in the first turn.  No one was able to catch Abreu who had just returned to California after racing in other parts of the country.

The finish:

Rico Abreu, Dominic Scelzi, Kyle Hirst, D.J. Netto, Shane Golobic, Sean Becker, Colby Copeland, Kalib Henry, Steven Kent, Andy Forsberg, Mitchell Faccinto, Bud Kaeding, Willie Croft, Geoff Ensign, Tim Kaeding, Tucker Worth, Kyle Offill, Jared Faria, Ryan Bernal, Tony Gualda, Landon Hurst, Justyn Cox, Blake Carrick, Danny Faria