Rico Abreu earns first career Chili Bowl victory

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Early on, it looked like no one would have an answer for Bryan Clauson in Saturday night’s Chili Bowl Nationals main event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

But as it turned out, someone did.

That someone was reigning USAC National Midget Series champion Rico Abreu, who got by the defending Chili Bowl champ just before the halfway mark of the A-Feature.

Clauson would get collected in an accident later on, and Abreu held the point for the rest of the race to capture his first win in one of dirt track racing’s biggest events.

As Abreu emerged through the “roof” of his midget racer to celebrate, the sell-out crowd at the River Spirit Expo Center was heard chanting his name in appreciation of his efforts.

“I just tried to stay as patient as I could,” Abreu said. “You know the race is a not a long race, but it is a long race. For a few laps, I just kind of got after it just to see where we were at and I hung with [Clauson] pretty good.

“I don’t know how hard he was racing but when the time was right, I pulled the trigger and gave him a slide job and was waiting for him to slide me back. We dragged raced each other into [Turn] 3 and I came out with the lead.”

Four-time Chili Bowl champion Kevin Swindell survived involvement in a six-car pileup early in the A-Feature and made a late run to second place.

Rounding out the podium was Damion Gardner, who came from the last row of the grid to finish third.

Clauson maintained second position for a while after losing his battle for the lead to Abreu, and still had hope of a second consecutive victory in Tulsa.

But that was dashed at Lap 39, when he was forced to stop after Daryn Pittman had spun in front of him in T3. They avoided a big crash, but were sent to the rear of the field. Both impressively recovered for Top-10 finishes – Pittman in sixth, Clauson in 10th.

Also among the big names to fall out of contention during the 55-lapper was NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year Kyle Larson. He started the main event in fourth place but spun out unassisted – not once, but twice. Nonetheless, he carried on and came home a respectable seventh.

Other NASCAR drivers involved in the A-Feature were J.J. Yeley, who finished 17th, and Chad Boat, who ran within the Top 5 before he tagged the cushion and flipped in the air. Boat landed right-side up, but he had to swallow a 21st-place result.

Another NASCAR driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., advanced into the preceding B-Mains but could not get to the A-Feature with a ninth-place finish. He needed a Top 6 finish to move on.

29th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals – River Spirit Expo Center, Tulsa, Okla.
A-Feature – 55 laps
Finishing Position/No./Driver/[Starting Position]

1. 97-Rico Abreu [3]
2. 39-Kevin Swindell [10]
3. 71L-Damion Gardner[23]
4. 67-Tanner Thorson [18]
5. 1-Sammy Swindell [16]
6. 21-Daryn Pittman [8]
7. 71K-Kyle Larson [4]
8. 15D-Andrew Deal [6]
9. 5D-Zach Daum [20]
10. 63-Bryan Clauson [2]
11. 8K-Blake Hahn[15]
12. 05-Brad Loyet [7]
13. 5-Jerry Coons Jr [1]
14. 7A-Darren Hagen [22]
15. 2B-Ryan Bernal [17]
16. 17C-Casey Shuman [25]
17. 1ST-J.J. Yeley[12]
18. 39B-Spencer Bayston [11]
19. 63K-Chris Windom [5]
20. 17RW-Dave Darland [24]
21. 15X-Chad Boat [9]
22. 5C-Colten Cottle [21]
23. 71-Christopher Bell [14]
24. 88B-Terry Babb [13]
Lap Leader(s): Clauson, 1-26; Abreu 27-55

Chip Ganassi to be honored in Petersen Museum exhibit

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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This Saturday, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will debut a new exhibit honoring one of the most successful teams in American motorsports.

Titled “Chip Ganassi Racing: Fast Tracks to Success | 30th Anniversary Tribute,” the exhibit will display several significant cars, trophies, and other artifacts from CGR’s storied racing history. Ganassi will formally be honored April 15, 2020 at the Petersen’s Annual Racers Night before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Dario Franchitti’s 2010 Dallara IR-05. Photo Kahn Media

Vehicles displayed in the exhibit will include the 1983 Patrick Wildcat MK9B raced by Chip Ganassi to his best finish in the Indianapolis 500, the Lexus-powered Riley MK X1 raced by Scott Dixon in the 2006 24 Hours of Daytona, the Dallara IR-05 driven to victory by Dario Franchitti in the 2010 Indianapolis 500, the Ford GT that finished first in the LM GTE category at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by Kurt Busch in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series.

“Chip Ganassi is an influential member of the automotive community, and his team’s penchant for success is a reflection of his raw skill and passion for the sport,” said Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “Complemented by a visually dynamic and compelling 180-degree video, ‘Chip Ganassi Racing’ will celebrate the team’s victories and tell its story while taking visitors on a trip down memory lane.” 

“Chip Ganassi Racing: Fast Tracks to Success | 30th Anniversary Tribute” will run through January 31, 2021. The museum will host a ticketed opening reception on December 13. More information on the Petersen Museum can be found at www.petersen.org.

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