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Abreu Adds to Impressive Chili Bowl Resume

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 13 2022

Rico Abreu, center, held off Kevin Thomas, right, and Blake Hahn to win the A Main at the Chili Bowl on Wednesday night.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Californian Rico Abreu added to his impressive Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals resume Wednesday, posting his fifth preliminary race victory in as many years during Hard Rock Hotel Casino Qualifying Night at Tulsa Expo Raceway.

A two-time Golden Driller Award winner, Abreu kept Keith Kunz Motorsports undefeated through the first three nights of the 36th annual event behind the wheel of his No. 97 entry. Abreu passed Jason McDougal on Lap 14 of the 30-lapper around the half-mile clay oval en route to a margin of victory of 0.353-seconds over Kevin Thomas Jr.

“My guys do an unbelievable job on these race cars, and it shows,” said Abreu, the Chili Bowl Nats champ in 2015-16. “We’ve won three in a row this week, and my car as the race went on just built momentum. It would just shoot off the corner. But at the end, my pace slowed down just so I didn’t make mistakes on the cushion.”

Abreu also took a moment to send a shout-out to injured teammate Daison Pursley. One of dirt racing’s rising stars, Pursley was injured during a violent crash at last November’s USAC National Midget Series Western World Championships at Arizona Speedway. Pursley subsequently underwent surgery to repair and fuse his C4 and C5 vertebrae. 

The 17-year-old Toyota Racing driver from Locust Grove, Okla., was running in the night’s third heat race when his No. 71 Keith Kunz Motorsports Midget made contact with the backstretch wall. That impact sent the car onto its side before flipping multiple times and landing on its side. 

“I just want to let everyone know we’re thinking about Daison Pursley right now,” Abreu said. “He’s a big part of our team, and he’s not here but I know he’s watching. We love you, buddy. Keep working hard.”

Taking off from the fourth position, Abreu worked to the runnerup spot on Lap 11 after a multi-lap battle with Thomas and Colby Copeland. In pursuit of leader McDougal, a caution the following lap erased a one-plus-second lead for the Broken Arrow driver. Working top shelf at one end of the track, Abreu’s No. 97 shot into the lead with a Turn 4 slide job after McDougal had changed his line.

Following another caution, Thomas made a run for the lead on the final lap. Pulling even at the exit of Turn 2, Abreu had just enough momentum to clear Thomas at the bottom of the final two turns. Blake Hahn placed third for the third year in a row.

“I could sense Kevin (Thomas) behind me and was just kind of waiting to make that last-second move down there,” said Abreu, a 29-year-old native of St. Helena, Calif. “I saw him right at the exit of Turn 2 and was able to get enough launch to clear him and block his run.”

Abreu and Thomas secured starting spots in Saturday night’s 55-lap championship A-Feature. MAVTV will broadcast Saturday’s events beginning with opening ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. (CST).

Copeland ended up fourth after running second early-on, with McDougal finishing fifth. Getting bit by the cushion, Brad Sweet recovered to a sixth-place result with Chase Randall slipping to seventh after an earlier run-in with the cushion. Chase Crum was the night’s Hard Charger, advancing eight positions to place eighth. Corey Day and Nick Drake completed the top-10.

Wednesday added 79 more drivers to “The Super Bowl of Midget Racing,” with 221 checking in thus far. The World Wide Technology Raceway Flip Count increased to 23, with everyone able to walk away.

Racing continues Thursday with John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night. The SageNet Center will play host to hot laps starting at 4 p.m. (CST), with racing to begin at 5.

Live coverage can be found on http://www.floracing.com. Continued updates on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire can be accessed by fans via Social Media (@cbnationals) and at http://www.chilibowl.com.

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36th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals

Wednesday Results/Hard Rock Casino Qualifying Night

OERB Heat Races: Top 40 in passing points advance to Qualifiers

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 27W-Colby Copeland[4]; 2. 44-Eric Wilkins[8]; 3. 25V-Billy VanInwegen Jr.[6]; 4. M1-Colby Stubblefield[9]; 5. 15Z-Jeff Zelinski[3]; 6. 77J-John Klabunde[1]; 7. 55K-Todd Kluever[2]; 8. 2C-JR Ewing[5]; 9. 45J-Shon Deskins[7].

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 8K-Jake Neal[2]; 2. 21S-Karter Sarff[6]; 3. 67K-Jonathan Shafer[3]; 4. 2W-Tony Bruce Jr.[5]; 5. 4D-Robert Dalby[9]; 6. 22C-Charlie Crumpton[1]; 7. 56X-Mark Chisholm[7]; 8. 22X-Steven Shebester[8]; 9. 99K-Robert Carson[4].

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 51-RJ Johnson[5]; 2. 31X-Carson Hocevar[2]; 3. 25K-Taylor Reimer[6]; 4. 26C-Chance Crum[9]; 5. 22L-Lucas Scherb[4]; 6. 75U-Brooke Tatnell[8]; 7. 15C-Carter Chevalier[1]; 8. (DNF) 91X-Danny Wood[3]; 9. (DNF) 1-Sammy Swindell[7].

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 52-Blake Hahn[5]; 2. 47M-Jake Hagopian[4]; 3. 21T-Tommy Kunsman[7]; 4. 42-Garth Kasiner[9]; 5. 17L-Cody Trammell[8]; 6. 91T-Tyler Thomas[2]; 7. 73B-Robby Josett[3]; 8. 17H-Harli White[6]; 9. 71J-Jeff Wheeler[1].

Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 1R-Brad Sweet[2]; 2. 77W-Joey Wirth[6]; 3. 7-Shannon McQueen[1]; 4. 2U-Slater Helt[7]; 5. 85T-Ryan Timms[8]; 6. 16C-David Camfield Jr[4]; 7. 22G-Troy Morris III[9]; 8. 14E-Dillon Osborne[3]; 9. 4F-Chad Frewaldt[5].

Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 11C-Mike Woodruff[2]; 2. 7M-Brody Roa[3]; 3. 50-Daniel Adler[5]; 4. 35R-Tyler Robbins[1]; 5. 5C-Chase Howard[6]; 6. 46X-Jacob Perry[4]; 7. 20C-CJ Sarna[7]; 8. 29K-Brian Harvey[8]; 9. 1EM-Tanner Ridge[9].

Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 4B-Jason McDougal[7]; 2. 19-Parker Price Miller[4]; 3. 55D-Nick Drake[6]; 4. 83-Dominic Gorden[3]; 5. 5LK-Jordan Kinser[5]; 6. 17-Tanner Berryhill[9]; 7. 75-Mario Clouser[8]; 8. 21P-Daylin Perreira[1]; 9. (DNF) 7E-Jarrad Warhurst[2].

Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 19A-Chase Randall[4]; 2. 1N-Ryan Padgett[2]; 3. 1G-Justin Peck[7]; 4. 99-Anthony Macri[3]; 5. 79S-Landon Simon[8]; 6. 21K-Caleb Saiz[5]; 7. 77S-Travis Berryhill[6]; 8. 3T-Taylor Peterson[1].

Heat 9 (8 Laps): 1. 97-Rico Abreu[2]; 2. 47Z-Corey Day[4]; 3. 5T-Kevin Thomas Jr.[6]; 4. 0G-Glenn Styres[1]; 5. 72W-Tye Wilke[3]; 6. 8X-Thomas Esberg[7]; 7. 9M-Ricky Montgomery[5]; 8. (DNS) 50K-Patrick Kop.

D-Features: Top 2 advance to corresponding C-Feature

D-Feature 1 (10 Laps): 1. 91X-Danny Wood[5]; 2. 15C-Carter Chevalier[3]; 3. 45J-Shon Deskins[6]; 4. 4F-Chad Frewaldt[8]; 5. 29K-Brian Harvey[2]; 6. 7E-Jarrad Warhurst[9]; 7. 73B-Robby Josett[1]; 8. 21P-Daylin Perreira[7]; 9. 2C-JR Ewing[4]; 10. (DNS) 50K-Patrick Kop.

D-Feature 2 (10 Laps): 1. 22X-Steven Shebester[1]; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell[6]; 3. 17H-Harli White[3]; 4. 55K-Todd Kluever[2]; 5. 14E-Dillon Osborne[5]; 6. 3T-Taylor Peterson[7]; 7. 71J-Jeff Wheeler[9]; 8. 99K-Robert Carson[8]; 9. (DNF) 1EM-Tanner Ridge[4].

C-Features: Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature

C-Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 22L-Lucas Scherb[3]; 2. 77J-John Klabunde[9]; 3. 22G-Troy Morris III[5]; 4. 75U-Brooke Tatnell[1]; 5. 15Z-Jeff Zelinski[4]; 6. 56X-Mark Chisholm[8]; 7. 75-Mario Clouser[6]; 8. 77S-Travis Berryhill[10]; 9. 91X-Danny Wood[11]; 10. 15C-Carter Chevalier[12]; 11. 0G-Glenn Styres[2]; 12. 46X-Jacob Perry[7].

C-Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 5LK-Jordan Kinser[2]; 2. 16C-David Camfield Jr.[6]; 3. 91T-Tyler Thomas[7]; 4. 22X-Steven Shebester[11]; 5. 35R-Tyler Robbins[1]; 6. 20C-CJ Sarna[8]; 7. 8X-Thomas Esberg[3]; 8. 22C-Charlie Crumpton[9]; 9. 72W-Tye Wilke[4]; 10. 9M-Ricky Montgomery[10]; 11. (DNF) 21K-Caleb Saiz[5]; 12. (DQ) 1-Sammy Swindell[12] ***Swindell disqualified for rough driving.

Team Toyota Qualifiers: Top 16 in combined passing points advance to the A-Feature

Qualifier 1 (10 Laps): 1. 4B-Jason McDougal[6]; 2. 27W-Colby Copeland[5]; 3. 25V-Billy VanInwegen Jr.[1]; 4. 17-Tanner Berryhill[10]; 5. 21T-Tommy Kunsman[4]; 6. 42-Garth Kasiner[2]; 7. 7M-Brody Roa[7]; 8. 79S-Landon Simon[9]; 9. 1N-Ryan Padgett[8]; 10. 11C-Mike Woodruff[3].

Qualifier 2 (10 Laps): 1. 97-Rico Abreu[3]; 2. 25K-Taylor Reimer[1]; 3. 4D-Robert Dalby[8]; 4. 19A-Chase Randall[5]; 5. 83-Dominic Gorden[10]; 6. 50-Daniel Adler[7]; 7. 47M-Jake Hagopian[2]; 8. 67K-Jonathan Shafer[9]; 9. 44-Eric Wilkins[6]; 10. (DNF) 1G-Justin Peck[4].

Qualifier 3 (10 Laps): 1. 55D-Nick Drake[1]; 2. 19-Parker Price Miller[2]; 3. M1-Colby Stubblefield[3]; 4. 8K-Jake Neal[4]; 5. 21S-Karter Sarff[5]; 6. 2W-Tony Bruce Jr[9]; 7. 51-RJ Johnson[6]; 8. 99-Anthony Macri[10]; 9. 17L-Cody Trammell[8]; 10. 2U-Slater Helt[7].

Qualifier 4 (10 Laps): 1. 5T-Kevin Thomas Jr.[1]; 2. 47Z-Corey Day[2]; 3. 1R-Brad Sweet[4]; 4. 26C-Chance Crum[3]; 5. 52-Blake Hahn[6]; 6. 77W-Joey Wirth[5]; 7. 7-Shannon McQueen[9]; 8. 31X-Carson Hocevar[7]; 9. 85T-Ryan Timms[8]; 10. 5C-Chase Howard[10].

Dave.com B-Features: Top 4 advance to the A-Feature

B-Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 8K-Jake Neal[1]; 2. 7M-Brody Roa[6]; 3. 1G-Justin Peck[8]; 4. 21T-Tommy Kunsman[2]; 5. 2U-Slater Helt[10]; 6. 50-Daniel Adler[4]; 7. 99-Anthony Macri[9]; 8. 42-Garth Kasiner[5]; 9. 77W-Joey Wirth[3]; 10. 7-Shannon McQueen[7]; 11. 75U-Brooke Tatnell[14]; 12. 22G-Troy Morris III[15]; 13. 22L-Lucas Scherb[13]; 14. 17L-Cody Trammell[11]; 15. 77J-John Klabunde[12]; 16. (DNS) 31X-Carson Hocevar.

B-Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 26C-Chance Crum[1]; 2. 83-Dominic Gorden[3]; 3. 51-RJ Johnson[2]; 4. 2W-Tony Bruce Jr.[4]; 5. 5LK-Jordan Kinser[13]; 6. 85T-Ryan Timms[11]; 7. 22X-Steven Shebester[16]; 8. 91T-Tyler Thomas[15]; 9. 16C-David Camfield Jr.[14]; 10. 44-Eric Wilkins[5]; 11. 67K-Jonathan Shafer[8]; 12. 1N-Ryan Padgett[9]; 13. 5C-Chase Howard[12]; 14. 11C-Mike Woodruff[10]; 15. 47M-Jake Hagopian[6]; 16. (DNF) 79S-Landon Simon[7].

A-Feature: Top 2 advance to Saturday’s A-Feature

A-Feature (30 Laps): 1. 97-Rico Abreu[3]; 2. 5T-Kevin Thomas Jr.[4]; 3. 52-Blake Hahn[6]; 4. 27W-Colby Copeland[2]; 5. 4B-Jason McDougal[1]; 6. 1R-Brad Sweet[9]; 7. 19A-Chase Randall[7]; 8. 26C-Chance Crum[16]; 9. 47Z-Corey Day[8]; 10. 55D-Nick Drake[5]; 11. M1-Colby Stubblefield[11]; 12. 83-Dominic Gorden[18]; 13. 21S-Karter Sarff[13]; 14. 25V-Billy VanInwegen Jr.[14]; 15. 7M-Brody Roa[17]; 16. 21T-Tommy Kunsman[21]; 17. 2W-Tony Bruce Jr[22]; 18. 25K-Taylor Reimer[10]; 19. 17-Tanner Berryhill[12]; 20. 51-RJ Johnson[20]; 21. 1G-Justin Peck[19]; 22. (DNF) 19-Parker Price Miller[24]; 23. (DNF) 4D-Robert Dalby[23]; 24. (DNF) 8K-Jake Neal[15].

Lap Leader(s): Jason McDougal 1-13; Rico Abreu 14-30

Hard Charger: Chance Crum, plus-8

Chili Bowl Nationals Champions

1987_Rich Vogler

1988 _ Scott Hatton

1989 _ Sammy Swindell

1990 _ Johnny Heydenreich

1991 _ Lealand McSpadden

1992 _ Sammy Swindell (2)

1993 _ Dave Blaney

1994 _ Andy Hillenburg

1995 _ Donnie Beechler

1996 _ Sammy Swindell (3)

1997 _ Billy Boat

1998 _ Sammy Swindell (4)

1999 _ Dan Boorse

2000 _ Cory Kruseman

2001 _ Jay Drake

2002 _ Tony Stewart

2003 _ Dan Boorse (2)

2004 _ Cory Kruseman (2)

2005 _ Tracy Hines

2006 _ Tim McCreadie

2007 _ Tony Stewart (2)

2008 _ Damion Gardner

2009 _ Sammy Swindell (5)

2010 _ Kevin Swindell

2011 _ Kevin Swindell (2)

2012 _ Kevin Swindell (First 55-lap A-Feature) (3)

2013 _ Kevin Swindell (4)

2014 _ Bryan Clauson

2015 _ Rico Abreu

2016 _ Rico Abreu (2)

2017 _ Christopher Bell

2018 _ Christopher Bell (2)

2019 _ Christopher Bell (3)

2020 _ Kyle Larson

2021 _ Kyle Larson (2)

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 13 2022
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