Dirt dynamos Abreu, Bell delighted to dig for Eldora victory
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.”
Rico Abreu is seen here practicing for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Dover International Speedway on May 12, 2016 in Dover, Del.