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Rico Abreu returns to championship form in Chili Bowl Night 3

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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.

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.

MORE: Kyle Larson wins Chili Bowl Night 2 

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Wednesday’s Results

1. Rico Abreu
2. David Gravel
3. Cole Bodine
4. Jake Swanson
5. Cannon McIntosh
6. Tim McCreadie
7. Colby Copeland
8. Ryan Smith
9. Robert Dalby
10. Daniel Robinson
11. Blake Hahn
12. Justin Peck
13. Aaron Reutzel
14. Alex Bright
15. Sammy Swindell
16. Tom Harris
17. Matt Westfall
18. Tristan Guardino
19. Jason McDougal
20. Holley Hollan
21. Geoff Ensign
22. Tyler Thomas
23. Chris Windom
24. Davey Ray

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”