Dirt dy­namos Abreu, Bell de­lighted to dig for El­dora vic­tory

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - Staff RE­PORT

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

NASCAR Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries driv­ers will be sling­ing and slid­ing Wed­nes­day when they head to El­dora Speed­way in Ross­burgh, Ohio for the sanc­tion­ing body’s only na­tional se­ries dirt race – the As­pen Den­tal Dirt Derby (9 p.m. ET on FS1).

Two driv­ers ec­static to get their rides muddy are young stars of the se­ries, and ex­pe­ri­enced dirt aces, Rico Abreu, 24, and Christo­pher Bell, 21.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to El­dora,” said Abreu, who won the 4 Crown Na­tion­als at the half-mile track in 2013. “I’ve had some suc­cess there in the winged sprint cars, and midgets, so it will be nice to get on fa­mil­iar ground and have some fun.”

At 14th on the NASCAR Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries Chase Grid (54 points be­low the cut­off line), Abreu es­sen­tially needs a win to cap­ture a berth in the cir­cuit’s play­offs. El­dora is the most likely spot for a tri­umph from the No. 98 ThorS­port Rac­ing driver, whose cel­e­brated dirt re­sume in­cludes wins in the last two Chili Bowl Na­tion­als, a vic­tory in the 2015 Pepsi Na­tion­als and wins in both the 2013 and 2014 Johnny Key Clas­sics.

“I’ve strug­gled read­ing as­phalt tracks this year,” Abreu said. “My spon­sor, Safe­lite, is based in Colum­bus (Ohio), so there will be a lot of peo­ple there sup­port­ing me and my ThorS­port Rac­ing team, so my plan is to have some fun, and hope­fully it’ll be a good op­por­tu­nity to get in the Chase.”

Bell, the de­fend­ing El­dora win­ner, has se­cured a spot in the Chase with his vic­tory at Gate­way, but could lose it if there are more than eight win­ners at the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son – a pos­si­bil­ity with five win­ners al­ready and six races re­main­ing be­fore the play­offs. A sec­ond vic­tory would lock up his Chase berth.

“El­dora is my fa­vorite race track in the whole world. With win­ning last year and now hav­ing a ton more ex­pe­ri­ence in the trucks, I’ll come into this year’s race with a lot of con­fi­dence.”

Bell’s ac­co­lade-filled dirt back­ground is high­lighted by his 2013 USAC Na­tional Midget cham­pi­onship. In ad­di­tion to his par­tial NASCAR Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries sched­ule last sea­son, the Nor­man, Ok­la­homa, na­tive com­peted in sprint cars, com­pil­ing six POWRi Midget wins, two USAC Na­tional Midget wins, one USAC Sil­ver Crown win and his sec­ond ca­reer World of Out­laws vic­tory.

Bell and Abreu both com­peted in the Kings Royal sprint car com­pe­ti­tion at El­dora last week­end in prepa­ra­tion for Wed­nes­day’s NASCAR race. Abreu placed run­ner-up in the A-Main on Sat­ur­day, while Bell fin­ished 21st af­ter wreck­ing late in the con­test.

“We’ve got a lit­tle added pres­sure this year hav­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced dirt driver and the guy who won the race last year,” said Jerry Bax­ter, Bell’s crew chief. “But we know if we just go out and ex­e­cute that this is a race that we can get our sec­ond win of the sea­son and se­cure our Chase spot.”

GETTY IM­AGES FOR NASCAR

Rico Abreu is seen here prac­tic­ing for the NASCAR Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way on May 12, 2016 in Dover, Del.

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