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.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.