Friday, June 10, 2016

Rico Abreu leverages Matt Crafton's experience at Texas Motor Speedway

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Rico Abreu’s performance in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, together with his dirt track dominance, garnered him a ride in the Camping World Truck Series. The two-time winner of the fabled Chili Bowl makes his ninth Truck start Friday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway, his sixth race for ThorSport Racing.

The driver of the No. 98  Safelite Auto Glass/Curb Records Toyota Tundra may be trailing in the Sonoco Rookie of the Year standings, but he’s optimistic about his performance heading into his first race at TMS.

“I think between Dover and Charlotte, we had some solid runs, not just the greatest finishes,” said Abreu in his pre-race media availability. “I think our trucks have a lot of speed as an organization right now at ThorSport with the 88 (Matt Crafton) running good, the 13 (Cameron Hayley) and the 41 (Ben Rhodes) are there as well as the 98. I’m excited.”

He piloted his Toyota Tundra to a 22nd-place finish at the Monster Mile and 20th at Charlotte. Abreu’s best run of the season came at Martinsville back on April 2, where he scored the first top 10 of his NASCAR career.

Two-time champion Matt Crafton, currently leading the series point standings, provides valuable advice for the rookie, both specifically for this weekend, based on his back-to-back wins in the June race at Texas, and overall.

“Definitely good to get back and forth with him (Crafton) on different grip levels from Charlotte to here,” Abreu said. “He’s so detailed about everything he explains and describes and feels. He’s been doing it for a long time. I don’t expect anything else. Being able to run over to his truck out of practice or him come over and look under the splitter or work my crew chief Doug (George).

“ThorSport Racing in general is a great organization and everyone works really well together, which just keeps building the organization to what it is at today. I think Matt (Crafton) in general has so much to do with all that. At the end of the day, they are the ones that everyone goes to and asks questions, or they are in your garage on your side of the shop helping your guys.”

Abreu understands the significance of the opportunity he has in one of NASCAR’s top-tier series, and plans to continue to make the most of it. His infectious smile and light-hearted attitude makes him a fan favorite.

“I just like to have fun and enjoy life. That’s what it comes down to," he said. “And to be happy. You look around and look at us sitting up here, how lucky we are to be here as race car drivers and that being our job. I am pretty hard on myself because I know how incredible of an opportunity I’ve been given. I try to take advantage of all these opportunities just because there’s someone out there that doesn’t get those opportunities and aren’t as lucky as we all are here.

“I’m happy where I’m at and enjoying every moment of it.”

The Rattlesnake 400 at Texas Motor Speedway begins Friday, June 10 at 9 p.m. ET. Tune in to the television broadcast on FS1 beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET. MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will also cover the action.


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