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Records Made at 81 Speedway; Abreu Takes Home Win

Rico Abreu

Rico Abreu in Victory Lane after winning the Wichita Sprint Car Showdown at 81 Speedway (Photo: Trent Gower | World Racing Group)

WICHITA, Kan. — Mother Nature put the kibosh on Friday night’s scheduled race in Oklahoma, but the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series traveled to better weather in Kansas on Saturday for the Wichita Sprint Car Showdown at 81 Speedway.

The night started off with Hot Laps and Giovanni Scelzi made that session’s quick time with a 13.445 second lap. Going into qualifying, a 20-year-old track record was on the line to be broken. That record was broken not once, but twice, and in the same flight qualifying session as well.

David Gravel broke the record first with a 13.138 second lap. Carson Macedo then whipped around the track and took the short-lived record away from Gravel with a 13.023 second lap. Macedo was also the quickest in the Flight A qualifying session.

“I felt like my car reacted good and I was a lot more comfy,” Macedo said of breaking the track record. “I felt strong in [turns] three and four and I believe that helped.”

In Flight B qualifying, Scelzi made the quick time once again with a 13.167 second lap. But after the other 20 cars qualified, no one had beaten Macedo’s time, giving Macedo the quick time of the night.

Heat Races lined up next and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took the first race win over fellow competitors Macedo, Aaron Reutzel and Sheldon Haudenschild. The highlight of the race, however, happened as soon as the green flag waved. Baron Silva, who was making his first ever 410 sprint car start, flipped in Turn 1, bringing out the caution. 

The second Heat Race was won by Gravel. Gravel started on the pole and stayed there through the entire race, even though he had Rico Abreu putting pressure on him the whole time.

The next two Heat Races followed suit, but with Scelzi and Landon Crawley on the pole. Both drivers held their position, as Gravel did in his Heat Race. Crawley had a lot of pressure but managed to hold off Donny Schatz.

The top two drivers of each Heat moved on to the Dash. The front row consisted of Abreu and Schuchart. Abreu ended up as the ultimate victor, foreshadowing what was to come later on in the night.

All of the drivers who did not do well in qualifying and Heat Races had one more shot with the Last Chance Showdown. The front row was Jace Park and Brian Brown. Park followed the trend of the night by keeping the lead for the whole race. During the Showdown though, John Carney II drove into the wall and Austin McCarl suffered nose wing damage, which resulted in him having to go into the infield because his balance was off.

After the last four drivers to be in the race were determined, the 30-lap main event lined up to go. Abreu and Kofoid made up the front row and as soon as the green flag dropped, Abreu jumped out front. Kofoid did not make it easy for Abreu though, battling him in all four turns for the first three laps.

The first caution of the night came out when Crawley slowed on the low side during Lap 3. He had to get pushed to the infield and the race started up again for one lap before Matt Covington spun in Turn 2, bringing out the second caution.

On the restart, Gravel entered the mix between Kofoid and Abreu. Gravel went low and tried to slide-job Kofoid to no avail. A couple positions behind, Schuchart and Scelzi battled for fourth while Gravel and Kofoid fought for second. 

On Lap 7, Gravel pulled off a successful slide job on Kofoid but was not able to hold onto it as Dominic Scelzi spun out. While all of the battling was going on, Haudenschild had passed one car per lap, rapidly moving through the field.

On the restart, Gravel immediately challenged Kofoid for the second position. Gravel went low and stayed low throughout Turns 1 and 2, but Kofoid had just a little bit more power and pulled away on the back stretch.

Buddy Kofoid and Rico Abreu

Rico Abreu and “Buddy” Kofoid competing in the Wichita Sprint Car Showdown at 81 Speedway (Photo: Trent Gower | World Racing Group)

Schuchart decided to enter the chat on Lap 8 and passed Gravel for third. With his sights set on Kofoid, he slid up in front of him after going low on Lap 9, earning the highly sought-after second place spot.

Four laps later, Brock Zearfoss got sideways in Turns 1 and 2 due to nose wing damage. On the restart following the incident, G. Scelzi got a lot more damage than a nose wing. Macedo and G. Scelzi’s tires got caught together and heavy contact ensued. This contact sent G. Scelzi flying up into the wall, barrel-rolling in the air, flipping a couple times on the ground and landing on his side. G. Scelzi was okay and walked away from the wreck.

While “Hot Sauce’s” car was prepared to be towed back to the pits, the other drivers had an open red flag. This meant that each driver’s team could come and do basic maintenance to the cars, as well as fill up the cars with fuel. This procedure was done because of all the parade laps done during the cautions.

Once G. Scelzi’s car was in the infield and all the teams had done what they needed to do to their cars, the race got underway once again. Gravel fought with Kofoid on the restart, taking Kofoid’s spot, but for five laps the two battled it out. Constantly side-by-side and slide-jobbing each other, Gravel finally passed Kofoid on Lap 17.

Remember when Haudenschild was passing cars like crazy during the opening laps? Well, he was coming up just as quickly once again and made himself known to the top contenders of the night.

Meanwhile, Gravel had passed Kofoid and now had his eyes on Schuchart’s spot. Going into Turn 3, Gravel went low, sticking his nose up high. As they exited Turn 4, Gravel used his nose to slide up in front of Schuchart, taking over second place. As Schuchart battled with Gravel to try and get his spot back, Schuchart went too high and rode the wall, allowing Schatz to enter the top five. 

Schatz passed both Haudenschild and Kofoid on Turn 2 and turned his attention to Gravel. Schatz passed Gravel coming out of 4.

Kofoid had to fight with Haudenschild for fourth after Schatz had passed them both. But theirs wasn’t the only battle going on during this time. Chris Windom and Park went at it for sixth. Windom ended up victorious though, after going high and coming down in front of Park. Windom and Park continued battling it out, but this time Garet Williamson had entered the mix with Macedo coming up behind. All of this had happened in the span of two laps: 20-22.

Windom and Williamson were side-by-side for the duration of the 26th-28th laps. But on Lap 29, Gravel passed Schatz to take back second place and complete the order of the top three finishers.

Abreu made history with the World of Outlaws by becoming the ninth different winner in nine different races: the first nine races at that. When asked about his win, the first thing Abreu did was thank his team. Abreu was also thankful that the fans came out to see him race.

“Where everything’s at in this country, it’s great to see the fans supporting us,” Abreu said.

Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor Status
1 1 24 Rico Abreu Rothwell Hyde Running
2 4 2 David Gravel Huset’s Speedway Running
3 12 15 Donny Schatz Ford Performance/Carquest Running
4 13 17 Sheldon Haudenschild NOS Energy Running
5 2 83 Michael Kofoid Mobil 1 Running
6 18 55 Chris Windom NOS Energy Running
7 8 23 Garet Williamson S&S Nationwide Running
8 22 3Z Brock Zearfoss Moose’s LZ Bar and Grill Running
9 7 41 Carson Macedo Albaugh Running
10 16 5T Ryan Timms Citgard Engine Oil Running
11 23 41S Dominic Scelzi SE Inc. Running
12 3 1S Logan Schuchart Drydene Running
13 21 45X Jace Park Henderson Construction Running
14 24 21 Brian Brown Casey’s Running
15 11 15H Sam Hafertepe Jr. cigarpoint.ca Running
16 15 1 Brenham Crouch Hi-Plains Building Division Running
17 17 3 Ayrton Gennetten Fischer Body Shop Running
18 19 70 Kraig Kinser Lumber & Things Running
19 6 7S Landon Crawley King Racing Products/MPV Express Inc. Running
20 9 87 Aaron Reutzel Folkens Bros. Trucking Running
21 5 18 Giovanni Scelzi Aspen Aire Running
22 14 18T Tanner Holmes NexGen Def Running
23 20 95 Matt Covington A-Rock Materials Running
24 10 17B Bill Balog Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup Running

Brooke Johnpier is a staff writer at The Podium Finish covering NHRA and professional dirt racing, as well as a social media promoter. Besides TPF, Brooke is a part-time motorsports journalist with Speedway Illustrated magazine, and Race Pro Weekly, which is an outlet similar to TPF. Aspiring to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time automotive/motorsports journalist, Brooke is a freshman at St. Bonaventure University where she is majoring in Sports Media, and minoring in Native American and Indigenous Studies and English. There, she is involved with all of the campus media, as well as the literary magazine. She is also an officer in two clubs. In her free time, Brooke loves reading, writing, going to the local racetrack, riding four-wheelers, working on cars, and riding in tractor trailers. Brooke is a music lover and percussionist, as well as a published author and women's rights activist.

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