By Gary Thomas & Bill Sullivan
PLACERVILLE, CA – When you’re hot, you’re hot and Rutherford’s Rico Abreu has started out 2014 like a blazing inferno. The 22-year-old in his fourth year of Sprint Car racing has began the year as well as anybody across the country and continued his stellar start before a record crowd at the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort sponsored Placerville Speedway on Saturday, by racing to his sixth career King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series victory.
The victory tied Abreu with Randy Tiner, Paul McMahan and Bobby McMahan for 19th on the all-time KWS win list. It also marked his first career triumph at the Placerville Speedway and came aboard the Abreu Vineyards/ Stadelhofer Construction No. 24 Sprinter.
“I’ve always wanted to get a win here at Placerville so to finally do it is pretty special,” Abreu commented on the front stretch. “I can’t thank Paul Silva and all my guys enough for giving me a great car as always. We’ve had an awesome start to the year and hopefully we can come back here soon and do it again. We always love racing Placerville and am pretty pumped to come out of here with a win tonight.”
When the green flag waved in the 30-lapper Abreu jumped into the lead as the rest of the field battled for position behind him. The race took a number of turns with various drivers charging through the field to try and challenge Abreu, but through it all the Rutherford driver was never fazed. Lake Havasu, Arizona’s Logan Forler was making noise as the laps ticked down from his 14th starting spot. Forler did a tremendous job during the feature and made some fantastic moves throughout the contest.
Despite a pair of double file restarts late in the race Abreu was able to hit his marks and drive off to take the checkered flag by 0.774 seconds over Forler. Visalia’s Cory Eliason came home in third, Campbell’s Brent Kaeding was fourth and Sacramento’s Kyle Hirst rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 were Auburn’s Andy Forsberg, Fremont’s Shane Golobic, Princeton’s Mason Moore, Campbell’s Bud Kaeding and Grass Valley’s Jason Statler.
The night’s 12 lap Last Chance Showdown was captured by Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi, with the six-lap Dash won by Kyle Hirst. The four 10-lap heat races were picked off by Mason Moore, Colby Copeland, Andy Forsberg and Bud Walberg. Cory Eliason began the night by setting fast time in the 35-car field by turning a time of 10.139.
The night’s companion class featured the Vintage Hardtops, which saw El Dorado’s Jason Armstrong claim the victory in the 15-lap event. The event marked the first time the Vintage Hardtops raced at Placerville Speedway, bringing fans an exciting look back of the days gone by at Old Hangtown.
Armstrong started fourth in the feature event and dueled with Tommy Thomson of San Leandro for the win. Exiting the fourth turn Armstrong used the high line and lapped traffic to his advantage to steal the lead approaching the checkered flag.
Racing at Placerville Speedway is presented by Jackson Rancheria Resort, Hoosier Racing Tires, The Mountain Democrat, Coors Light and Riebes Auto Parts. Racing resumes next week with a five division program. For full details visit www.placervillespeedway.com