It’s All Abreu In Belleville Opener

Rico Abreu (67x) and Tanner Thorson Thursday night at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks. (Ken Simon photo)
Rico Abreu (67x) and Tanner Thorson Thursday night at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks. (Ken Simon photo)

BELLEVILLE, Kan. — Rico Abreu won the 25-lap feature on Thursday night, kicking off the 36th annual Belleville Midget Nationals on the Belleville High Banks.

The California driver led all the entire distance in the USAC Honda National Dirt midget series event, establishing himself as the favorite for Saturday’s 40-lap Championship Feature.

Third-place running Caleb Armstrong hit the turn-three wall on the second lap, executing a series of wild barrel roll flips atop the guardrail. The New Castle, Ind., driver was transported to Republic County Hospital for observation.

On the restart, Abreu led his teammate Christopher Bell, followed closely by Tracy Hines and Dave Darland. Bell running in second, entered the pit area to change a flat tire during a lap-nine caution, rejoining the field at the tail.

At the midway Bell had passed eight cars entering the top 10, while Abreu saw his lead cut to one-car length over Darland, with 10 laps remaining. The trio of Abreu, Darland and Hines pulled away from the field. Abreu increased his lead during the final five laps, while running in lapped traffic.

Abreu, driving the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian owned No. 67k, finished ahead of Hines, Darland, defending winner Jerry Coons Jr. and Bryan Clauson completing the top five.

Bell, making his first start at the track, topped the 25-car field in qualifying and finished sixth.

“This place is great, I really wanted to score a victory here, the crew has the car so close, I’m looking forward to Saturday’s feature,” said Abreu, who finished second in last year’s event.

Twenty-five midgets were on hand.

Friday night at the track will feature the “Hustle on the High Banks” 50-lap event for the USAC TRAXXAS Silver Crown Series and the track’s cruiser division. Saturday night will be highlighted by preliminary races and the 40-lap Midget championship feature, along with the second annual 305 Sprint Nationals.