It was chaos behind Rico Abreu in Wednesday night’s preliminary A Main but the popular two-time Chili Bowl winner kept his cool for 30 laps to take another win and lock himself into Saturday night’s 34th edition of midget racing’s indoor classic.
Starting second, Abreu stalked polesitter Brad Sweet for the first 10 laps and then made his move in traffic and snatched the top spot on Lap 11. Despite heavy pressure from runner-up Colby Copeland, Rico never surrendered the lead the final 19 laps in his Keith Kunz Spike/Toyota.
“Keith’s cars always come in during the final 10 laps and I was just waiting on traffic and then I turned the pace car,” said the 2015 and 2016 Chili Bowl victor from St. Helena, Calif. “I felt like that was our advantage and then I just tried to make good decisions and be smooth in all those restarts.”
There was one red flag and three yellows during the final eight laps in what was easily the best race of the three nights.
The most damaging accident came with four laps left when Blake Hahn speared Sweet going into Turn 3 as they raced for third place. Sweet got upside down and eliminated while Hahn finished third.
“I hate that happened — I don’t drive like that and I feel bad,” said Hahn, who charged from 10th to make the B Main.
Copeland came from seventh to second to make the A Main with a splendid effort that saw him fend off Sweet, World of Outlaws star David Gravel, Chase Johnson and Hahn.
“I feel like I won,” said Copeland, a native of Roseville, Calif., who drives the Matt Ward Spike/Stanton. “My car kept getting better and better in the feature.”
Sammy Swindell, a five-time winner here in Tulsa, charged from 13th to fifth and make the B Main.