KOKOMO, Ind. — Rico Abreu kicked off the Honda National Midget season in style, with a daring drive around the high side of Kokomo Speedway in Friday’s “Kokomo Grand Prix” kickoff.
The St. Helena, Calif., driver ripped around the outside of the first corner to take the lead after starting fourth and never looked back to win aboard the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 97 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I thought they might leave a lane up high on the start, so I just ran it off in there and hoped it wasn’t greasy and it would stick. We came out of there with the lead and track position was really key. Cars were scattered everywhere as I caught them, so getting through there was important tonight. I knew Dave was behind me, and you always know where he’s running, so I just kept going as hard as I could. We were bottoming out pretty hard running the top through one and two, but I just had to keep digging,” Abreu said.
Abreu launched off turn two with the early lead as polesitter Zach Daum took second. Abreu lasted through seven restarts, as Dave Darland used the first to move by Chris Windom for third and the second to pass Daum. Abreu kept a fast pace up front as Darland closed in as they hit traffic.
With late cautions clearing them of slower cars, Abreu took off and lengthened his lead, bouncing through the cushion in turns one and two and roosting through the loose dirt up high in turns three and four. His massive lead didn’t slow him down, as he continued to stretch it out and encountered traffic in the closing laps, narrowly avoiding disaster as he ran into Taylor Ferns coming to the checkered.
Darland lost ground late in the race, narrowly holding onto second aboard the RW CML Security – Fontana Automotive No. 17 Beast/Fontana.
“I was able to work my way to second early there, and we were still good til halfway or a little more, but we lost some air in the right-rear and the cushion snagged us a little bit towards the end. Rico ran a good race, though, especially in traffic, so we just have to be happy with second. It was so fast tonight, it was hard to move around much. I was thinking I could do something in traffic, but he got through there really well, too,” Darland said.
Defending National Midget champion Christopher Bell bicycled hard on the opening corner and lost quite a few positions, but rebounded to steadily move forward and finish third in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No.71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“That start just put us behind the eight-ball. I was happy to miss the little hole in one, and then the one in turn-two got me. I was probably lucky not to get upside-down. When it gets fast around the top like that, it gets tough to slide someone. I think we were right there with those top-two, but they’re both good up there, so it’s tough to do much with them,” Bell said.
Windom held on for fourth with Tracy Hines racing from 11th to fifth.
It was Abreu’s latest victory as he previously earned a series of sprint car victory including wins with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series and ASCS Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series.