Rico Abreu wins Wednesday night feature in bid to repeat as Chili Bowl champion

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Rico Abreu moved a step closer to repeating as Chili Bowl champion after winning Wednesday night’s preliminary feature.

Abreu took the lead on a restart just past halfway in the 25-lap feature at River Spirit Expo Center at Tulsa’s Expo Square and led the rest of the way.

He earns a spot in Saturday night’s 55-lap feature. Also qualifying for the Chili Bowl Nationals feature was Tyler Thomas, who finished second on Wednesday, and Thomas Meseraull, who placed third. The top three in each of the four preliminary night features advance to Saturday’s main event.

Abreu’s victory came hours after a report that he’ll have a full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season for ThorSport Racing. An official announcement will be made Friday.

NASCAR TIES: J.J. Yeley had a tough night. He was involved in a crash in the B Main after three laps and did not continue, placing 15th. Troubles in his heat race forced him to have to race his way from one of the two C Main races. He won that to advance to the B Main before he couldn’t avoid a spinning car and was hit from behind as well.

NOTABLE: Austin Prock, a development driver for Tony Stewart Racing, finished 12th in the second B Main to see his night end. … Five-time Chili Bowl champ Sammy Swindell raced his way from the C Main and B Main to make it to the night’s preliminary feature but was involved in a couple of incidents late that kept him from a potential top-10 finish. He placed 18th in the 24-car A Main.

NEXT: Thursday’s qualifying races feature NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Christopher Bell in action, along with IndyCar owner Sarah Fisher.

FEATURE RACE RESULTS: 

1 – Rico Abreu

2 – Tyler Thomas

3 – Thomas Meseraull

4 – Parker Price-Miller

5 – Austin Brown

6 – Chase Stockton

7 – Blake Hahn

8 – Jake Swanson

9 – Brenden Bright

10 – Alex Sewell

11 – Daniel Adler

12 – Steve Buckwalter

13 – Alex DeCamp

14 – Josh Lakatos

15 – Daniel Robinson

16 – Gary Taylor

17 – A.J. Fike

18 – Sammy Swindell

19 – Colby Copeland

20 – Tyler Courtney

21 – Jason McDougal

22 – Payton Pierce

23 – Larry Wight

24 – Kyle Clark

Full results from Wednesday’s races

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”