Rico Abreu returned to form last night during Night 3 of the 33rd annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals to win his fourth preliminary in five years. The California Midget and Sprint Car driver won back-to-back Chili Bowls in 2015 and 2016.
When asked by ChiliBowl.com about regaining the confidence he had in 2015 and 2016, Abreu replied, “Yeah, I think so. I won those back to back years and I kind of had a slump year and came back to be competitive. Last year I felt I wasn’t as good as the top two but if the roles were reversed, I think if I was in a little better position I think where they could chase me instead of me chasing them. Because those two boys [Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson] – they don’t too many mistakes when they get out front. I think this year was a matter of just minimizing the mistakes”.
Last year’ Chili Bowl was Abreu’s first event back after sitting out more than 15 weeks following a crash at Eldora during the Four Crown Nationals.
Abreu started on the outside of the first row after winning his heat and qualifier. He lost a position on the first lap to Blake Hahn who was immediately challenging then-leader Cole Bodine.
What makes the Chili Bowl the biggest race of the season for @Rico_Abreu? Why celebrate these prelim wins like they're regular wins anywhere else.
The first caution of the night came on Lap 3 when Matt Westfall spun to avoid a crashing Chris Windom who slapped the wall on the frontstretch. Westfall rebounded; Windom’s damage sent him to the work area ending the 2017 USAC Sprint car champion’s night.
Hahn faded on the restart and by Lap 5, Abreu was back in second and closing in on the leader. On Lap 8, Abreu preformed a slider and executed the final lead change of the night.
World of Outlaws driver David Gravel took the second transfer spot in a hard fought battle for second. He grabbed the runner-up spot after a quick game of three-card monte with Bodine and TIm McCreadie – who faded to sixth at the checkers.
Bodine completed the podium after narrowly holding back Jake Swanson who advanced 14 positions in the 25-lap feature. Cannon McIntosh rounded out the top five.
Former Chilli Bowl champion Sammy Swindell started fifth, but spun on Lap 9and finished 15th.
Cooper Webb scored his fourth win of the season in a photo finish over Ken Roczen in Round 7 of Supercross competition.
It was a remarkable end to a barn burner race.
Roczen was still looking for his first win since San Diego in 2017. He took the lead from Eli Tomac on Lap 4 as the pair came out of the whoops. Roczen held the lead for the next 21 circuits. On Lap 4, Webb was mired in sixth – the worst position among the top four contenders that entered the event with only two points separating them.
Webb mounted his charge at that point, meticulously picking off the competition until he was embroiled in a heated battle with Marvin Musquin. Webb knew that his only shot at catching Roczen was to get past Musquin as quickly as possible, but he could not run the risk of taking his teammate down. Webb passed Musquin on Lap 19 and began picking at Roczen’s lead.
With time off the clock and the final lap underway. Webb was on Roczen’s back tire hoping to force a mistake. When that did not come, Webb dove into the final turn to get side-by-side with Roczen and break the leader’s momentum. The two crossed under the checkers in a virtual tie. Webb beat Roczen by two-hundredths of a second – the closest margin in Supercross history.
“That was just insanity,” Webb told NBCSN after the race. “It was clicking I guess.”
Webb’s win gave him the points lead and the red plate.
Musquin rounded out the top three to keep the points battle tight. This is Musquin’s fifth consecutive finish of either second or third.
On Lap 1, the race had a completely different storyline. Tomac took the early lead ahead of Roczen and Musquin. Webb was seventh and it appeared he would be the first of the top four to blink.
Instead, it was Tomac that bobbled. He went down on Lap 6 and kept falling until he landed 12th. This was the first time he’s failed to finish among the top 10. The disappointing finish dropped him 16 points off the pace, fourth in the standings.
Blake Baggett and Joey Savatgy rounded out the top five.
Zach Osborne’s return to Supercross was not what he expected. Osborne was running eighth when he got crossed up and went over the tough blocks on Lap 8. He could not return to the race and finished 22nd after a dramatic showing in his heat.
Round 2 of 250s East started where Round 1 ended – with Austin Forkner in the lead. This was the first time in more than a decade that a rider had perfect nights in the first two rounds. Forkner had to overcome mistakes in timed practice after going off track once and nearly landing on another rider on a separate occasion. That contact might have ended his night before it began.
Instead, Forkner posted a lap of 50.899 – his fastest of the night – on the second trip around the track in the Feature. As he got into traffic, the lap times slipped into the 52-second range.
Helping Forkner to his dominant win was the fact that no one seemed to want second place.
Chase Sexton was Forkner’s closest competition for the first half of the race. He stalled and lost second to Jordon Smith at the midway point. On Lap 15, he went down and fell to fourth. Now 13 seconds behind the leader, his chance of winning was done. Sexton recovered to finish third and land on the final step on the podium
On Lap 18, Jordon Smith laid his bike down while running second; he ultimately crossed under the checkers fourth.
Their mistakes allowed Justin Cooper to climb into the runner-up position and secure the second position in the points standings.
450 Heat 1: Ken Roczen led every lap on his way to a 4.8-second win over Justin Hill. … Joey Savatgy rounded out the top three. … Zach Osborne got off to a tough start on his return to Supercross. He went down on Lap 1 after burying the front wheel. Osborne almost saved his bike, but got run over from behind by Aaron Plessinger. Osborne fell to 18th on the first lap; improved to 15th by Lap 2. He kept rolling, picking off one spot per lap. Osborne grabbed the final transfer spot from Kyle Chisholm just as time ran off the clock.
450 Heat 2: Cole Seely took the lead from Chad Reed on Lap 1 and held it to the checkers. After Roczen took the Heat 2 win, the battle for the championship was previewed in Heat 2, however; Eli Tomac caught up to Seely’s back wheel, but came up about a half second short. … Cooper Webb showed he is not going to be overshadowed in the playoff battle with a third-place finish. … Marvin Musquin finished seventh.
450 Last Chance Qualifier: Justin Barcia flat out dominated the LCQ with a 12.5-second win over Alex Ray. … Kyle Chisholm finished third. Ronnie Stewart lost the final transfer spot to Scott Champion on the last lap – but not for long. Champion went down as he was headed for the checkers and gave the position back to Stewart. … Tyler Bowers was disqualified before the beginning of the LCQ for running into Barcia during their heat race.
250 Heat 1: Mitchell Oldenburg blazed into the lead with the holeshot and grabbed a 1.4 second lead by the end of Lap 1. It was Oldenburg’s first heat win of the season. … He held that advantage through the end of the heat and beat Justin Cooper and Alex Martin. … With time running off the clock, Lorenzo Locurcio took the final transfer spot of ninth.
250 Heat 2: Austin Forkner and Jordon Smith went side by side on Lap 5 with Forkner blasting past on the whoops to win the heat. … Smith held on for second with Martin Davalos rounding out the top three. … Kyle Peters almost provided the drama of the night exiting Turn 1. He got wiggly in a big pack and bunched up the riders from seventh on back. Peters recovered to finish fifth. … The final transfer spot came down to a three-man battle between Brandon Hartranft (eighth), Joshua Cartwright (ninth) and Steven Clarke just missing in 10th. … Joey Crown joined Clarke in the LCQ after finishing 11th.
250 Last Chance Qualifier: Kyle Cunningham was seventh at the end of Lap 1, but he picked up two positions per lap until he was third on Lap 3. He took the lead on Lap 5 and held it till the end over Ramyller Alves and Steven Clarke. … TJ Albright grabbed the holeshot, but lost the lead to Clarke on Lap 3. He fell back to fourth and was under heavy pressure from Jayce Pennington until the two riders made contact with on the final lap. Albright survived to finish fourth; Pennington finished a distant 16th.
Cooper Webb (150) (4 wins)
Ken Roczen (148)
Marvin Musquin (144)
Eli Tomac (134) (1 win)
Dean Wilson (110)