Despite severe weather forecasted, and present all around this desert border town, “The Diamond in The Desert”, Cocopah Speedway, presented one whale of a sprint car show to kick off the American Sprint Car Series 2014 touring race season!
With lightning dancing across the western horizon, and the smell of rain thick in the air, Rico Abreu stood atop the podium for the first time with Lucas Oil ASCS presented by MAVTV American Real. The diminutive racer, with a rather heavy right foot on “the loud pedal”, dominated the 30 lap feature, slicing his way through the lapped pack of drivers, and picking up the 2014 season opener at the Cocopah Speedway in only his second career A-Feature start with the national arm of the American Sprint Car Series!
Leading from the drop of the green flag, the Rutherford, CA driver set the pace until Lap 18. Surrendering the lead in traffic to Roger Crockett, Crockett found the traction, and a clear groove, with some great forward bite to drive around Abreau. Crockett went high in turns 3 and 4, while Abreau got hung up in traffic while “bottom feeding” in the turns, thereby allowing Crockett to assume the point, and pull away. However, Crockett would ultimately end up third. Racing to the white flag, Abreu followed right on the fuel cell of Roger Crockett across the stripe. Sliding out of the bottom groove entering turn one for the final time, Crockett sat helpless with the car sliding across the racing surface, pushing up to the fence, and out of the fast lane, while watching Abreau blow past!
With tires spinning through the second turn, but grasping the needed forward bite, Abreu powered by the Rocket Designs #11 with Crockett in the cockpit. Immediately following the pass by Rico, Crockett appeared to have more problems as the checkered flag fell, surrendering second to the fast closing Christopher Bell at the line.
“I thought he missed it. The bottom was really clean around one-and-two, and I thought he just missed it, but he thought the race was over,” said Abreu. “They throw that crossed flag before they throw the white. I just watched him. I didn’t know what was going on, and snuck by him on the back stretch,and made sure I hit my marks at the end.”
Asked if he knew Bell was closing in to challenge for the lead before the races lone caution on Lap 5 Abreu replied, “I knew he was going to be up top so I took the top there after the caution and just tried to keep my car as straight as I could. It was a really slick track; hard to keep your tires underneath you, but the farther I got my wing back the better I was.”
“This is incredible,” said Abreu about his $3,000 payday.
The series 137th winner, Abreu crossed 1.197 seconds ahead of Christopher Bell.
Following the race, it was discovered that Bell was able to finish despite the right-front torsion bar and arm missing from the Baytown Ford No. 31B.
Even with everything happening on the final lap, Crockett still finds himself locked into Saturday’s $10,000 to win event with a third place showing.
Passing for fourth on Lap 8 after starting tenth, Brian Brown nearly missed the final transfer into Saturday’s A-Feature.
Working by the Casey’s General Store / FVP No. 21 with four laps to run, Brad Loyet worked to keep Brown at bay in the closing laps. Going side-by-side off the final turn, the pair crossed under the checkered flag wheel-to-wheel with Brown crossing 0.016 seconds to the good over Loyet.
Loyet complete the top five with Johnny “Hollywood” Herrera slipping back to sixth. “The Ragin’ Cajun“, Jason Johnson started eighth and worked as high as fifth before crossing seventh with Logan Forler eighth. Indiana’s Bryan Clauson, the 2014 Chili Bowl winner, crossed ninth in his third Lucas Oil ASCS A-Feature for his second top ten. Wayne Johnson slipped from seventh to complete the top ten.
Here is how they finished at the end of the night at Cocopah Speedway:
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 24-Rico Abreu; 2. 31B-Christopher Bell; 3. 11-Roger Crockett; 4. 21-Brian Brown; 5. 05-Brad Loyet; 6. 45X-Johnny Herrera; 7. 41-Jason Johnson; 8. 2L-Logan Forler; 9. 82C-Bryan Clauson; 10. 77X-Wayne Johnson; 11. 23-Seth Bergman; 12. 82-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 13. 94-Jeff Swindell; 14. 87-Aaron Reutzel; 15. 33V-Henry VanDam; 16. 9R-Reece Goetz; 17. 17-Blake Hahn; 18. 20Z-Rick Ziehl; 19. 0-Glenn Styres; 20. 41W-Joshua Williams; 21. 17W-Cole Wood; 22. (DNF) 11W-Joe Wood Jr; 23. (DNF) 18-Tony Bruce Jr; 24. (DNF) 95-Matt Covington
Car Count: 39
Tonight, Saturday night, the high speed, ground pounding, 800 horse powered, 1150 pound, guided missiles return for the the $10,000 to win finale of the weekend.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!