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Rico Abreu steals the show at Bradway Memorial
St. Helena wheel-man Rico Abreu races to the biggest win of his career & goes home with over $8500 at the 23rd annual "Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial" on Saturday
By Gary Thomas
CHICO, CA (5-4-13) - The annual "Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial" at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico is always a race that Northern California Sprint Car drivers mark on their calendar. The past winners list of the event is a practical who's who of Sprint Car racing in the Golden State over the years and after Saturday a new name has been etched on the list, with that driver being 21-year-old Rico Abreu.
The talented St. Helena, California youngster had a near perfect night at the 23rd edition of the "Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial," setting the Carwash Mike Fast Time to begin the night and also winning the six-lap Dash. The fast time effort earned him $1140 cash, plus a custom Jagermeister Trophy & Coors Light Cowboy hat in honor of late Sprint Car fan Carwash Mike Avilla. His victory in the Dash also paid $1000 cash, with that ironically coming courtesy of Abreu Vineyards.
Overall Abreu will walk out of the Silver Dollar Speedway with over $8500, during what was his third career King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series victory. His other two wins with the series also came during special races and included the Tribute to Gary Patterson at Calistoga and the Chris/Brian Faria Memorial in Tulare last season. Abreu scooped up the lead on Saturday with just under 10-laps left in the feature when race long leader Shane Stewart suffered a reported broken U-Joint.
"Ah man this is just awesome to come out here and win the Bradway," Abreu said after leaping from the top wing of his car on the front stretch. "I can't thank Paul Silva and this whole team enough. This is a brand new ART Chassis and it really worked well all weekend. It's pretty special to add my name to the list of Bradway winners, because this is a huge race and it's such a big honor to win it. I felt bad for Shane Stewart to drop out like that, but that's how racing goes sometimes and I couldn't be happier to be standing here in victory lane at Chico."
Fans, teams, drivers and officials showed definite grit to begin the night as a freak wind and rain storm pounded down on the Chico area just as hot laps were getting started. Despite forecasts of mid-90's and no rain the Midwest-like storm came in and threatened to put a damper on things, but everyone hunkered down and waited things out. Once the brief rain shower passed the track was worked back in and the program was run to completion.
The 40-lap main event came to the line with Dash winner Abreu and Bixby, Oklahoma's Shane Stewart on the front row. Stewart jumped out to the early lead and seemed to have the car to beat as he looked for his second career "Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial" victory aboard the Silva Motorsports No. 57 mount. In the open track the two-time ASCS National champion had no problems pulling away to a healthy advantage, but his biggest challenges came on a number of double-file restarts, where Abreu tried his hardest to get by while running the high-side.
As Stewart stayed committed to the bottom Abreu attempted to sail his Abreu Vineyards No. 24 sprinter around the top, but each time would come up just short of getting by off the second corner. With the race winding down and just 10-laps left Stewart entered turn three and a puff of smoke emitted from the 57 machine, which ultimately saw him slow and park it in the infield to end his night in heartbreaking fashion. This handed the lead to Abreu, who had a fast closing Kyle Hirst and Jonathan Allard trying to run him down and take command.
The lead trio had to deal with lapped traffic and a couple times Hirst closed right up to Abreu's back bumper, but the youngster drove a perfect final few laps and crossed the checkered for the biggest victory of his three-year Sprint Car career. Extra money to bump up the normal A-main winners share was donated from Red Line Oil, Butler Built Performance, Roth Motorsports and Gil & Al Velo. For setting fast time, winning the dash, winning the A-main and also receiving lap money, Abreu as mentioned earned over $8500 for the night, which is an all-time record in the 23-year history of the "Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial."
Hirst came home second to record his career best "Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial" finish and also claim his third consecutive podium to start the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series season. "I gave it everything I had right there to try and get by Rico but he did a great job so I want to congratulate him on the win. I want to win this race really bad and one of these years I'll get a Bradway. We've had a great start to the season and I can't thank Dennis & Teresa Roth and this whole Roth Enterprises team enough for giving me great stuff each week."
Allard crossed the stripe in third to score his first podium finish of the season with the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series. "I'm happy to be up here on the podium tonight and tried to find another groove to make up ground on some guys and luckily it paid off. I want to thank the Durica's for always doing a great job with the Bradway Memorial and want to give a big thanks to Dan Simpson for giving us just a tremendous series to run with KWS, because he doesn't get enough thanks for all he does as well. We'll go on to Petaluma and try to get this Williams 0 in victory lane."
Placerville's Andy Gregg did a great job in the main event to battle among the top few cars much of the race and bring home a fourth place finish at the helm of the Coors Light No. 53 mount. It marked Gregg's career best result at the Bradway Memorial. Former Bradway winner Sean Becker rounded out the top-five in the feature and earned the "Abreu Vineyards Hard Charger Award" for the night after starting from the sixth row, which paid $1000 cash. "The Shark" will also go home with a custom award donated by Alan Bradway & Grant's Foto Art. The top-10 was rounded out by Dominic Scelzi, Justyn Cox, Craig Stidham, Christopher Bell and Willie Croft.
The 12-lap Last Chance Qualifier was captured by Corning's Bud Walberg, who will go home with $1000 cash courtesy of Abreu Vineyards plus lap money. As previously mentioned Rico Abreu took home the $1000 Abreu Vineyards Dash, while Justin Sanders won the 10-lap C-main. The four 10-lap heat races were picked off by Shane Stewart, Willie Croft, Jonathan Allard and Dominic Scelzi. The heat winners received $500 cash from Abreu Vineyards, a right rear tire & five sleeves of tear offs from HoservilleCA and a case of gear oil from Red Line Oil.
As also noted Rico Abreu kicked off the night by earning the Carwash Mike Fast Time Award with a clocking of 12.199 around the quarter mile. Donations for the $1140 to win Carwash Mike Fast Time Award came in from Gloria & Manny Avilla, Gary Thomas, Chico Truck & RV, Steve & Donna Gomez, All Transmission & Fleet Service, Brody & Lauren Vickers and Sheree & Loree Toller. It marked Abreu's second career fast time with the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series.
On behalf of everyone with the King of the West Sprint Car Series we'd like to thank everybody for their support of the 23rd annual "Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial" and for continuing to make it one of the biggest events each season on the West Coast. Special thanks to Dave & Dianne Durica for all the hard work they put in to organize all the lap money and special awards that are gathered for the Bradway.
The King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series will now get ready for the inaugural "Salute to Baylands" this coming Saturday night May 11 at the Petaluma Speedway in Petaluma, California. It will be the first 410 Winged Sprint Car event at the sticky three-eighths mile clay oval since 2010 and has been a much anticipated outing on the schedule. For more info on Petaluma Speedway visit them on the web at http://www.petaluma-speedway.com
More information on the traveling King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series can be found online at http://www.kwssprints.com and by tuning in to "KWS Tonight" every Thursday evening throughout the season on the homepage of the website.
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