Rico Abreu earns first career victory in NASCAR K&N Pro Series
Rico Abreu has earned his first career stock car victory, racing to the win in Saturday night's NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio.
Abreu first set a track record in winning the pole for Saturday's race. He then held on for the victory in the race that followed qualifying, drawing praise and congratulatory notes via Twitter from several of his driver friends in NASCAR such as Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Abreu is the reigning USAC national champion and winner of this year's 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl. He made his stock car debut at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida in January, one week after his Chili Bowl victory and shortly after signing with HScott Motorsports.
That signing came just three days after Abreu turned heads across the racing world with his popular victory in the Chili Bowl Nationals. Abreu was signed by HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks to run the full 2015 season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East -- a feeder series to NASCAR's highest levels.
Abreu also is a member of the current NASCAR Next class, a group of 12 drivers identified by NASCAR as up-and-coming talent who are assisted in their development on and off the track by an arm of the governing body.
Abreu, 23, competed in more than 100 open-wheel races in 2014 in the United States and New Zealand. He posted 26 wins across 410 winged and non-winged sprint car races, 360 winged sprints, and USAC midget competition in which he also won the national championship.
Abreu's big triumph at the Chili Bowl in January came against a star-studded field that included the likes of 2014 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Larson and two-time XFINITY Series champion Stenhouse Jr. Both Larson and Stenhouse now race full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Abreu stands at 4-foot-4 and weighs just 95 pounds -- a result of being born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder of bone growth. He uses foot blocks to build up the accelerator area so he can drive.
But with all his recent success on the track, few young drivers in NASCAR's developmental series are standing as tall these days.
Yes yes yes!!!!! Way to go @Rico_Abreu so pumped for your first stock car win!! I knew you could do it. Awesome.— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) July 5, 2015
Heck ya way to go @Rico_Abreu super proud of you bud know you have worked hard!!— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (@StenhouseJr) July 5, 2015
The Associated Press contributed to this report