Abreu Opens Belleville Midget Nationals Title Defense in Victory Lane
The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume III, No. 69
Lonnie Wheatley, BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 30, 2015) – There’s very little question about it, the sweeping, high velocity Belleville High Banks suit Rico Abreu’s style.
Foot planted to the floor and tailtank to the fence for 25 laps, the California native raced from the eighth starting position to victory lane in Thursday night’s 38th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals preliminary feature event.
“I’ve always loved this place, we always get around here pretty good it seems like,” Abreu said after kicking off his Belleville Midget Nationals title defense in impressive style.
And he led a Keith Kunz Motorsports sweep of the USAC National Midget podium that could have easily been the top four if not for Kevin Thomas, Jr., popping a powerplant after leading the initial 11 circuits.
While the Belleville Midget Nationals has never lacked for atmosphere, it is now building back up in car count with 31 entries checked in for Thursday’s preliminary card.
Come feature time, the four Keith Kunz entries occupied the outside of the front four rows with Thomas, Jr., Tanner Thorson, Christopher Bell and Abreu, respectively, with Steve Buckwalter, Zach Daum, Tracy Hines and Cody Brewer on the inside line.
When the green flag flew, it only took a half lap for the four Kunz entries to freight train the top side to the top four positions.
Abreu slid past Thorson for third in the opening handful of laps then traded sliders with Bell before taking command of second after a lap five restart.
And when Thomas, Jr., lost power after 11 laps, Abreu was in command the rest of the way with stablemates Bell and Thorson chasing all the way to the line.
Hines crossed the stripe fourth with Daum rebounding from an early trip to the work area while running fifth to reclaim the fifth position in the final rundown.
Series: USAC Midgets
Track: Belleville High Banks (Belleville, KS)
Car Count: 31
Quick Time: 2013 Belleville Midget Nationals champ Christopher Bell set the standard at 17.603 seconds.
Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses): C.J. Johnson (4), Tracy Hines (6), Tanner Thorson (6), Rico Abreu (5).
Heat Moments: With the pucker factor at full effect on the start of each heat race, no cautions were needed in any of the four heats. C.J. Johnson held off the duo of Bell and Thomas, Jr., to win the first heat, Hines made a nice opening lap move to put away heat two, Thorson made a late move by Coons in heat three and Abreu sliced through heat four in short order.
“B” Main Winner (starting position in parentheses): Kyle Jones (5).
“B” Main Moments: Texas shoe Jones flirted with turn three disaster on the way to winning ahead of Michelle Decker while Johnny Murdock took the eighth and final transfer only to suffer engine failure and miss the call for the main.
“A” Main Cautions: Five
One Lap – The red flag flies when pole starter Steve Buckwalter gets into the turns three and four guard rail and comes to a stop in the upper groove. The result is ugly with Tyler Nelson, Chett Gehrke and Chad Frewaldt all getting upside down. Nelson took the worst ride, but all drivers were fortunate enough to walk away.
Three laps – Jeff Stasa spins it in turn one.
Seven laps – Dave Darland keeps it in the park after breaking something and bouncing to a stop in turn two. Fifth-runner Daum checks into the pits under the caution and rejoins at the tail in 13th.
11 laps – Race leader Kevin Thomas, Jr., loses power and is done for the evening.
18 laps – Cody Brewer slows on the speedway to bring out the final caution.
“A” Main Hard Charger: Aaron Schuck gained a feature-best dozen positions by finishing as the last car running in 11th after starting 23rd while Abreu bested those that earned positions with an improvement of seven spots from eighth to first.
The Box Score…
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.603; 2. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-17.628; 3. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.652; 4. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-17.652; 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 67k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.679; 6. Steve Buckwalter, 25, Buckwalter-17.747; 7. Cody Brewer, 96, Central Motorsports-17.765; 8. Rico Abreu, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.772; 9. C.J. Johnson, 45x, Martin-17.939; 10. Dave Darland, 63, RKR/Curb-Agajanian-17.956; 11. Jerry Coons Jr., 27, Heffner-17.956; 12. Spencer Bayston, 39, Clauson-18.165; 13. Matt Johnson, 85, Central Motorsports-18.189; 14. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-18.190; 15. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-18.251; 16. Michelle Decker, 4M, Meents-18.284; 17. Tyler Nelson, 88, Nelson-18.439; 18. Chad Frewaldt, 75, Frewaldt-18.474; 19. Kyle Jones, 69x, Hefler-18.508; 20. Chett Gehrke, 11c, Matteson-18.548; 21. Jeff Stasa, 91, SBR-18.583; 22. Patrick Stasa, 19s, SBR-18.769; 23. Hunter Fischer, 24F, Fischer-18.839; 24. Warren Johnson, 313, Frewaldt-19.293; 25. Aaron Schuck, 53, SET-19.299; 26. Johnny Murdock, 0, Zero-20.328; 27. Patrick Lawson, 0B, Zero-20.557; 28. Robert Bell, 71B, Bell-20.771; 29. Blake McMillan, 727, McMillan-21.191; 30. Tyler Dunkle, 0D, Zero-NT; 31. Morgan Frewaldt, 926, Frewaldt-NT.
FIRST HEAT : (8 laps) 1. C.J. Johnson, 2. Bell, 3. K.Thomas, 4. J.Stasa, 5. Nelson, 6. M.Johnson, 7. Schuck, 8. McMillan. 2:22.13
SECOND HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Hines, 2. T.Thomas, 3. Buckwalter, 4. Darland, 5. C.Frewaldt, 6. Dunkle, 7. P.Stasa, 8. Murdock. 2:22.68
THIRD HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Thorson, 2. Coons, 3. Brewer, 4. Chapple, 5. Jones, 6. Fischer, 7. Lawson,. 2:24.42
FOURTH HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Abreu, 2. Daum, 3. Bayston, 4. Gehrke, 5. Decker, 6. W.Johnson, 7. Bell. 2:21.95
SEMI : (12 laps) 1. Jones, 2. C.Frewaldt, 3. Decker, 4. M.Johnson, 5. Nelson, 6. W.Johnson, 7. Schuck, 8. Murdock, 9. Bell, 10. Lawson, 11. McMillan, 12. Fischer. 3:47.04
FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Rico Abreu (8), 2. Christopher Bell (6), 3. Tanner Thorson (4), 4. Tracy Hines (5), 5. Zach Daum (3), 6. Jerry Coons Jr. (11), 7. Tyler Thomas (14), 8. Spencer Bayston (12), 9. Isaac Chapple (15), 10. Matt Johnson (13), 11. Aaron Schuck (23), 12. Cody Brewer (7), 13. Kevin Thomas Jr. (2), 14. Dave Darland (10), 15. Kyle Jones (19), 16. Warren Johnson (22), 17. C.J. Johnson (9), 18. Jeff Stasa (21), 19. Steve Buckwalter (1), 20. Michelle Decker (16), 21. Chett Gehrke (20), 22. Tyler Nelson (17), 23. Chad Frewaldt (18), 24. Johnny Murdock (24). NT
Lap leaders: Kevin Thomas, Jr. 1-11, Rico Abreu 12-25.
The Wheatley Chronicles brings insight and highlights from all variety of racing series throughout the nation in 2015 and beyond along with the Open Wheel Power Rankings on a regular basis. Please send any comments, questions or advertising inquiries regarding The Wheatley Chronicles at www.sprintcarmania.com to Lonnie Wheatley at email@example.com.