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Abreu Crowned Pepsi Nationals Champion

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Sun Prairie, WI – Rico Abreu edged fellow Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Tanner Thorson by .093 seconds coming to the stripe to take the 34th annual Pepsi Nationals, adding another accomplishment to the always growing resume of the Napa, California wheelman.

Rookie Ryan Robinson would lead the field to green in the event tri-sanctioned by POWRi/USAC/BMARA, but it would be his teammate Tanner Thorson taking control as the field crossed the stripe for lap one.  As Thorson stretched his lead, Bryan Clauson took second out of the hands of Robinson and worked to edge closer towards Thorson.  As Kevin Thomas, Jr. battled with teammate Robinson for the third position, Bryan Clauson would fall off the pace with rear tire issues, bringing out the first caution of the evening.

With four laps down, Thorson would power off as Kevin Thomas, Jr. squeezed Robinson for the second position as the duo entered turn one with Rico Abreu edging closer to the front.  As Abreu took third away from Robinson and closed on Thomas, Jr., Bill Balog’s machine would slow entering turn three, bringing out the second caution of the evening.  Coming back to green flag racing, Thorson wouldn’t pull as much as previously, as Hagen, Abreu, and Thomas, Jr. would all battle for the second position, trying not to let Thorson out of their sights.  But, Tucker Klaasmeyer would bring the caution right back out as his machine slowed along the back stretch.

Abreu and Hagen would have another chance at moving forward coming back to green, as Hagen would try to make a move on Abreu, only to have contact made and lose momentum, heading backwards.  As the top three of Thorson, Thomas, Jr. and Abreu began to spread out, Tracy Hines would clip an infield tire and flip wildly in turns three and four, bringing out the first red flag of the evening.  Hines would be alright, but done for the night.

With 16 laps down, Abreu would work past Thomas, Jr. on the restart and set his sights on Thorson.  Trailing Thorson for the remainder of the race, the final lap would be the deciding factor.  Taking the white flag, Abreu would slide Thorson entering turn one, but Thorson would cross back over leaving two.  Entering turn three, Abreu threw another slider and Thorson crossed back over, creating a drag race to the finish with Abreu parking it in victory lane.  Kevin Thomas, Jr., would take third creating a Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports podium.  Bryan Clauson brought home fourth in the Rusty Kunz Racing/Curb-Agajanian machine and Darren Hagen brought home fifth in the Austin Brown, Esslinger-powered BOSS Chassis entry.

“That was a lot of fun,” stated Rico Abreu.  “Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby gave me a fantastic car.  I kind of stole Tanner’s thunder there, but he just keeps getting better and better.  It’s one of those races where you want to be running second.  You can search around a lot more running second.  It’s a lot of fun running with these guys.  I enjoy racing all these cars.  It just keeps making me better and better.”

“I wouldn’t want to lose it to anyone more than Rico,” commented Tanner Thorson.  “He definitely earned it.  I heard he was working the top and I was out there in the front trying to do my deal.  I knew someone was there and I was holding my breath the last five laps; I could see him.  I didn’t know if it was him or KT because they’re both fast.  But, hat’s off to this team to put another Keith Kunz podium out there.”

“To be on the podium is pretty nice,” said Kevin Thomas, Jr.  “Keith and Pete always preach to me about the bigger picture.  It’s just a blessing that this team gives us the best cars you could drive.  Hat’s off to Rico and Tanner.  I saw Rico slide Tanner there on the last lap and it was fun from where I was sitting, but unfortunately it was third.”


Ford Heat Race Winners: Heat 1: 39 – Spencer Bayston, Heat 2: 91T – Tyler Thomas, Heat 3: 8 – Jimi Quinn

Great Clips Feature Winner: 97 – Rico Abreu

POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series Feature Results (30 laps): 1. 97 – Rico Abreu, 2. 67 – Tanner Thorson, 3. 67k – Kevin Thomas, Jr., 4. 63 – Bryan Clauson, 5. 17 – Darren Hagen, 6. 11A – Andrew Felker, 7. 39 – Spencer Bayston, 8. 71 – Ryan Robinson, 9. 91T – Tyler Thomas, 10. 9K – Kyle Schuett, 11. 52 – Isaac Chapple, 12. 21k – Kurt Mayhew, 13. 7 – Austin Brown, 14. 24 – Tracy Hines, 15. 77 – Kaitlynn Leer, 16. 82 – Eric Johnson, 17. 8 – Jimi Quinn, 18. 57 – Bill Balog, 19. 31 – David Budres, 20. 27 – Tucker Klaasmeyer, 21. 20 – Cody Weisensel

For more information, visit www.powri.com.


Derek Schuett

POWRi Media


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