From Brian Walker / worldofoutlaws.com
Stop the count. The drought is over. Rico Abreu is once again a winner with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
The Rowdy Energy, Lucas Oil Products #24 led the final 24 laps of Friday’s “BeFour The Crowns Showdown” at Eldora Speedway, earning his ninth career win with The Greatest Show on Dirt and snapping a four-year winless streak with the Series in the process.
Bound and determined to overcome the agony of 105 consecutive losses, the St. Helena, CA native fended off a fury of four different challengers including Spencer Bayston, Brad Sweet, Donny Schatz, and James McFadden throughout the 30-lap affair. After sliding by Bayston on Lap 6, the 30-year-old fan favorite never relinquished the lead but could feel the full-time Outlaws breathing down his neck the whole time.
Friday’s win not only brought Rico back to NOS Energy Drink Victory Lane for the first time since September 8, 2018, but it also marked his first World of Outlaws win since the off-season addition of eventual Hall of Fame Crew Chief, Ricky Warner.
“This is a huge confidence booster,” a relieved Rico told a joyous Eldora crowd. “As race car drivers, you become so hard on yourself through these slumps inconsistencies. We built another new team this year and I’m just so thankful to have Ricky Warner in my corner. He makes any driver look outstanding. The chemistry in our team is showing, it’s just awesome to be with such a great group.”
Abreu is now a four-time winner of Eldora’s #4Crown Nationals, adding a World of Outlaws win with an All Stars triumph and pair of USAC National Midget victories. More than anything, it’s momentum ahead of the 40th Kings Royal coming soon in July 2023.
“Standing up here against the World of Outlaws is what it’s all about,” Abreu added. “Everything we do here is learning, practicing, and collecting data for when the Crown Jewel races come back in the summer. I never, ever thought in a million years that I would win a race on the bottom at Eldora Speedway, but that shows how comfortable my car is right now. These guys made some last-minute adjustments before we pushed off, and they nailed it.”
Falling short by 1.051-seconds at the checkered flag, McFadden collected his fourth runner-up result of the year and 10th podium finish since joining Roth Motorsports. Although the Australian is starving for that first win of 2022, he was relatively amped with the chance to beat the boards one more time at one of his favorite tracks on the schedule.
“I was pounding the top so hard right there,” J-Mac said with a big grin. “That’s why I come to Eldora, it’s such a blast. I actually got through to the front on the bottom, but the top was coming in during that last run so I just started hitting it harder and harder. I’m happy with a second-place tonight because I know it’ll come to us if we keep putting ourselves in a position to win.”
Rounding out the podium after briefly challenging for the lead on the final restart was Donny Schatz aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing, Ford Performance, Carquest Auto Parts #15. The #10-time Series champion is now only six-points behind Sheldon Haudenschild in the battle for fourth-place in the championship.
“We just needed to better at the end, and that’s a recurring problem for us,” Schatz said. “We could kind of hang for three-to-five laps, but then I would just stall out. All I could do at that point was run the win back, keep the tires under it, and hang on. Rico didn’t make any mistakes tonight, so hats off to him. We’ll keep plugging away.”
Rounding out the top-10 on Friday night was Brad Sweet in the Kasey Kahne Racing #49, Carson Macedo in the Jason Johnson Racing #41, Jacob Allen in the Shark Racing #1A, Spencer Bayston in the CJB Motorsports #5, Justin Peck in the Buch Motorsports #13, Logan Schuchart in the Shark Racing #1S, and Aaron Reutzel in the RSR #8.
Tonight, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will make a four-hour overnight haul from the western border of Ohio to the eastern border of Ohio. A Saturday showcase at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, OH awaits The Greatest Show on Dirt.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (30 Laps):
1. 24-Rico Abreu [$10,000]; 2. 83-James McFadden [$6,000]; 3. 15-Donny Schatz [$3,500]; 4. 49-Brad Sweet [$2,800]; 5. 41-Carson Macedo [$2,500]; 6. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,300]; 7. 5-Spencer Bayston [$2,200]; 8. 13-Justin Peck [$2,100]; 9. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,050]; 10. 8-Aaron Reutzel [$2,000]; 11. 2-David Gravel [$1,600]; 12. 11X-Buddy Kofoid [$1,400]; 13. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,200]; 14. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [$1,100]; 15. 11-Logan Seavey [$1,050]; 16. 9-Kasey Kahne [$1,000]; 17. 21H-Brady Bacon [$1,000]; 18. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$1,000]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$1,000]; 20. 1M-Landon Myers [$1,000]; 21. 7S-Robbie Price [$]; 22. 91-Kyle Reinhardt [$1,000]; 23. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg [$1,000]; 24. 26-Zeb Wise [$1,000]; 25. 5TX-Travis Philo [$1,000]. Lap Leaders: Spencer Bayston 1-6, Rico Abreu 7-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 1A-Jacob Allen[+15]
Championship Standings (64/74 Races):
1. Brad Sweet (7,926); 2. David Gravel (-88); 3. Carson Macedo (-96); 4. Sheldon Haudenschild (-234); 5. Donny Schatz (-240); 6. Logan Schuchart (-308); 7. James McFadden (-456); 8. Spencer Bayston (-526); 9. Jacob Allen (-648); 10. Brock Zearfoss (-862).
See the full story and results:
Photo: worldofoutlaws.com / Trent Gower