NASCAR: Sprint car standout Rico Abreu to enter K&N East Series in 2015

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Three days after Rico Abreu captured his first victory in the prestigious Chili Bowl, the reigning USAC National Midget Champion is set to go into stock car racing this year.

As first reported by ESPN’s Ryan McGee, HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks will run the 22-year-old in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2015, expanding the team to a five-car operation.

The team confirms that Abreu will compete in all 14 series events in the No. 98 car while also continuing his open-wheel career.

“Joining HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks is a great opportunity for me,” Abreu said in a team release. “As a full-time open-wheel driver on dirt, I’m aware that there will be a learning curve for me this season.

“Knowing that Harry and Justin have faith in me to be successful in stock cars is a great confidence boost. I’m up for the challenge and look forward to learning from my teammates and making the most out of this season.”

Mardy Lindley, who guided current XFINITY Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski to the 2013 K&N East crown, will serve as Abreu’s crew chief for his program in the latter division.

Abreu may only be 4-foot-4 and weigh 95 pounds, but the sprint car set has long known that behind the wheel, he’s 100 percent dynamite.

A native of Rutherford, California, Abreu earned 26 wins across more than 100 open-wheel races last year that involved not just the aforementioned USAC midgets but also 410 (winged and non-winged) and 360 (winged) sprint cars.

His rise is all the more remarkable considering that his career in top-tier sprint car racing only began four years ago. As he admitted last summer in an interview with The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, he’s still new to it all.

“I don’t come from a racing background. I learn as I go. It’s been an adventure for sure,” he said to the Register.

Now, his adventure is about to get even bigger. His new K&N East bosses, Harry Scott Jr. and Justin Marks, are both ready to see where it leads.

“Rico has remarkable talent and is a great fit for this organization,” Scott said in today’s team release. “The addition of Rico to our stout lineup of drivers raises our level of excitement even higher going into the 2015 season.”

“Rico is a driver that has already proven to himself on so many levels in his young career,” Marks chimed in. “I can’t wait to see what Rico and his fellow teammates accomplish this year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

F1: Lewis Hamilton qualifies No. 1 for U.S. Grand Prix, on verge of winning 5th title

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Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward earning his fifth Formula One championship on Saturday, qualifying No. 1 for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton and his Mercedes have won five of the previous six U.S. Grand Prix’s held at COTA, including the last four races there.

The Great Britain native comes into Sunday’s race leading the F1 point standings and is seeking to tie Juan Manuel Fangio for second-most F1 career championships. Michael Schumacher has the most with seven crowns.

Sebastian Vettel is Hamilton’s sole remaining challenger for the title, trailing Hamilton by 67 points with four races to go, including Sunday’s race.

Vettel must win Sunday’s race or finish within seven points of Hamilton to prevent the latter from winning the title and pushing a possible clinching scenario to next week in Mexico.

Vettel qualified second Saturday, but due to a red-flag three-position grid penalty sustained during Friday’s morning practice, will start fifth on Sunday’s grid.

As a result of Vettel’s penalty, Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside Hamilton on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Vallteri Bottas, will start third, while Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Here’s how qualifying played out:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:34.130 1:33.480 1:32.237 20
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:34.569 1:33.079 1:32.298 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:34.703 1:32.884 1:32.307 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:34.518 1:33.702 1:32.616 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.755 1:34.185 1:33.494 14
6 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:34.876 1:34.522 1:34.145 18
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:34.932 1:34.564 1:34.215 18
8 8 RomainGrosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:34.892 1:34.419 1:34.250 17
9 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.069 1:34.255 1:34.420 17
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:35.193 1:34.525 1:34.594 17
11 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:34.891 1:34.566 12
12 20 KevinMagnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:34.972 1:34.732 12
13 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:34.850 DNS 13
14 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:35.206 DNS 13
15 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.766 4
16 14 FernandoAlonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.294 6
17 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.362 6
18 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.480 8
19 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.536 8
20 2 StoffelVandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.735 6

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