USAC Midgets: Abreu Leads Kunz Podium Sweep; Wins Opening Night of Belleville Nationals

RaceChaser Staff Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Midwest, Other Midgets, Plains, Sprints & Midgets, USAC 0 Comments

BELLEVILLE, Kan. — official series release — TeeJay Crawford photo —

Defending Belleville Midget Nationals champion Rico Abreu picked up right where he left off around the famed Belleville High Banks as he stormed from eighth to win Thursday’s 25-lap preliminary feature in advance of the 2015 Belleville Midget Nationals.

The defending Honda Midget National Champion made it three wins on the year and 11 for his career aboard the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 97 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.

“This is one of my favorite tracks and I’ve had some success here,” Abreu said. “Saturday night is what counts, so we’ll have to be ready to do this again. I was able to search around some running behind them and find something that worked. They do a great job preparing these cars, and that’s the key to come to a place like this.”

Belleville rookie Kevin Thomas Jr. jumped to the lead from outside the front row and led his teammates, who started on the outside of the first four rows as they completed the first lap running 1-4.

On lap two, polesitter Steve Buckwalter got up into the turn-three guardrail, spinning sideways as cars scattered to miss him. Both Tyler Nelson and Chett Gehrke flipped, while Chad Frewaldt was also collected.

After another quick yellow two laps later, Abreu used the restart to get a run on Thorson for third, and the caution reappeared a few laps later as Dave Darland caught the cushion in turn-one and jumped sideways before slowing to a stop. Under the yellow, Zach Daum visited the work area for a packed right-front wheel, but he returned to the action.

On this restart, Abreu went after Bell for second and slid him into turn-three for the runner-up spot and began to carve away at Thomas’ lead. It fell into Abreu’s hands, however, on lap 12 as Thomas went up in smoke at the start finish line and brought out another yellow as he stopped.

From there, Abreu was in command, although Bell began to reel him back in on the longer green-flag run. He could never get within striking distance, though, and had to settle for second in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota. Bell also set the night’s Pro Source Fast Time Award.

“He did a great job on the restarts, and tonight it was important to get positions as quickly as you could after those,” Bell said. “Rico did a great job on those, and after we ran that first lap or two, we kind of had what we had. I packed a wheel with mud fairly early, and that made it pretty tough to see.”

Thorson rounded out the podium in the Toyota TRD – Abreu Vineyards No. 67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.

“I was feeling around and thought maybe some rubber would come and I knew my only chance at them would be if it came in and I could find it first,” Thorson said. “Hats off to those guys, and this team is so strong right now. All the laps you can get around this place are great and will help even more heading to Saturday.”

Tracy Hines and Zach Daum rounded out the top five.


RESULTS: Honda USAC National Midget Series; Belleville High Banks; Belleville Midget Nationals Preliminary Night; July 30, 2015

FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Rico Abreu, 2. Christopher Bell, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Zach Daum, 6. Jerry Coons Jr., 7. Tyler Thomas, 8. Spencer Bayston, 9. Isaac Chapple, 10. Matt Johnson, 11. Aaron Schuck, 12. Cody Brewer, 13. Kevin Thomas Jr., 14. Dave Darland, 15. Kyle Jones, 16. Warren Johnson, 17. C.J. Johnson, 18. Jeff Stasa, 19. Steve Buckwalter, 20. Michelle Decker, 21. Chett Gehrke, 22. Tyler Nelson, 23. Chad Frewaldt, 24. Johnny Murdock.

** Gehrke and Nelson flipped on lap 2 of the feature. **

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 K.Thomas, Laps 12-25 Abreu.


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