Rico Abreu in victory lane at Eldora Speedway. (Photo Frank Smith)
ROSSBURG, Ohio — Rico Abreu led the final 24 laps of Friday’s BeFour The Crowns Showdown at Eldora Speedway to claim his first victory in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series in four years.
Bound and determined to overcome the agony of 105 straight losses, the native of St. Helena, Calif., fended off the fury of four different challengers – Spencer Bayston, Brad Sweet, Donny Schatz and James McFadden over the case of 30 rounds.
After passing Bayston in the sixth round, the 30-year-old fan favorite never gave up the lead, but could feel the full-time Outlaws breathing down his neck the entire time.
Friday’s victory not only brought Abreu 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 eventual chef’s off-season addition. Hall of Fame team, Ricky Warner.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Abreu said. “As race car drivers, you get so hard on yourself because of these inconsistencies. We built another new team this year and I’m so grateful to have Ricky Warner in my corner. It makes any pilot exceptional. The chemistry in our team shows, it’s just great to be with such a good group.
Abreu is now a four-time #4Crown Nationals winner from Eldora, adding a World of Outlaws win with an All Stars triumph and two USAC National Midget wins.
Defeat the outlaws
“Standing up here against the outlaw world is what it’s all about,” Abreu added. “All we do here is learn, practice and collect data for the return of Crown Jewel races this summer. I never, ever thought in a million years that I would win a race down to Eldora Speedway, but that shows how comfortable my car is right now.These guys made some last minute tweaks before driving off, and they pulled it off.
Falling short of 1.051 seconds at the checkered flag, McFadden earned his fourth result of the year and his 10th podium since joining Roth Motorsports.
“I was hitting the top so hard,” J-Mac said with a big smile. “That’s why I come to Eldora, it’s great. I actually went past the bottom, but the top was coming on that last run, so I just started hitting it harder and harder. I’m happy with second place tonight because I know it will come to us if we keep putting ourselves in a position to win.
Schatz rounded out the podium after briefly challenging for the lead on the final restart aboard Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing, Ford Performance, Carquest Auto Parts No. 15.
“We just needed to improve 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 stall. All I could do at that point was take the win, keep the tires on the bottom and hang on. Rico didn’t make any mistakes tonight, so hats off to him. We will continue to connect.
Feature (30 rounds) – 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. 9PM-Brady Bacon [$1,000]; 18. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$1,000]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$1,000]; 20. 1M-Landon Myers [$1,000]; 21. 7S-Robbie Prize [$]; 22. 91-Kyle Reinhardt [$1,000]; 23. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg [$1,000]; 24. 26-Zeb Sage [$1,000]; 25. 5TX-Travis Philo [$1,000].