Takes All-Star win, but Blaney takes championship.
Rico Abreu (in photo from previous event) felt Eldora Speedway owed him something. The Napa, California driver didn’t have a very good Four Crown Nationals a couple of weeks ago and he vowed he would redeem himself upon his next visit to “The Big E."
He did just that Saturday as he claimed the University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions season finale. It was Abreu’s second career UNOH All Star win, both coming this season. Abreu blasted around Dale Blaney to take the lead on lap 18 and worked his way through traffic like a surgeon to score the win.
“To beat Dale Blaney at Eldora…wow. Dale and Donnie (Schatz) are on top of their game this year so this is a huge accomplishment. I’ve crashed a lot lately including at the Four Crown. I feel I’ve let my team down but this makes up for a lot. I’ve won a midget race and now a winged sprint car race at Eldora. That is really awesome,” said Abreu of his Abreu Vineyards/ButlerBuilt Seats/Stadelhofer Construction car.
“This gives us a huge confidence boost as we get ready for the Trophy Cup coming up,” added Abreu of his 23rd victory of 2014.
Blaney would come home second and become the first driver to ever win five UNOH All Star championships.
“It’s hard to lead here. You try to run straight around the top but not enough to wear the tire out. I got the wing back a little too far and it got tight getting into turn three. Rico did a great job. He’s been really fast all year. We just got wiped,” said Blaney beside his Kennedy Cattle/Ti22 Performance/Penske Shocks/Gf1 Chasses backed machine.
“Five All Star titles is really neat. It’s a testament to the guys I’ve driven for. I’ve had great cars and George (Fisher, crew chief) has been with me for 12 years now and he gives me great cars every night. We’re going to try to get six next year,” added Blaney.
Blaney and Randy Hannagan would bring the field to green for the 30-lap feature with Blaney gaining the upper hand. Just as Blaney caught the back of the pack on lap six the caution would fly for a Derek Hagar spin.
The restart order was Blaney, Hannagan, Greg Wilson, Christopher Bell, Abreu and Gary Taylor. When the green flew again Blaney pulled away but it was short lived as Lee Jacobs tangled with Gary Taylor. The red would come out as Jacobs required medical attention. He would go to a nearby hospital for treatment of a lower back issue.
On the restart Blaney would pull away from Hannagan again as Wilson, Abreu, Bell, Ian Madsen, Travis Philo, Dean Jacobs, Sheldon Haudenschild and Chris Andrews gave chase. Abreu would drive around Wilson for third on lap 10 and immediately closed on Hannagan.
Blaney would again catch the back of the pack on lap 13 and as he tried to negotiate the heavy lapped traffic, Abreu closed quickly. At the half way point Abreu was right on Blaney’s rear bumper. Abreu would execute a perfect slider in turns three and four on lap 18 to take the lead.
With 10 laps remaining the running order was Abreu, Blaney, Hannagan, Wilson, Madsen, Bell and Andrews who had started 22nd. As the leaders raced through heavy lapped traffic it was Blaney’s turn to apply pressure as he raced under Abreu several times attempting to regain the lead.
Abreu would make some daring moves in traffic in the closing handful of laps as he drove to the win. Blaney, Hannagan, Wilson and Madsen would round out the top five.
The race closed the books on the UNOH All Star season and was the 135th visit of the series to Eldora. The All Stars were part of the UNOH Sprintacular at Eldora which saw 111 sprint cars signed in for the three divisions of racing.
Of the 37 events the UNOH All Stars sanctioned in 2014, there were 16 different winners led by Blaney who scored 16 series victories.