Rico Abreu defends Chili Bowl title in duel with Bryan Clauson

(Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The 2016 Chili Bowl Nationals came down to a duel between the race’s last two champions, Rico Abreu and Bryan Clauson, with Abreu coming out on top to defend his 2015 title.

Abreu started fourth in the 55 lap A-Main and after a lengthy red flag period, restarted second with 15 laps left to challenge Clauson for the win. After removing himself from the cockpit of his No. 97 car, he lept into the arms of Clauson in celebration at the Tulsa Expo Raceway.

“I just made sure I was patient,” Abreu told Racinboys.com. “I’m already looking forward to next year. This is my favorite race of the year.”

Abreu is now one of six drivers to win the Chili Bowl more than once.

Clauson started from the pole and led for most of the race until Abreu overtook him.

“Got really tight there for a good portion (of the race) and then right there at the end it widened back up so I could rip in on the curve,” Clauson told Racinboys.com. “I got back to (Abreu), just tried a little too hard in (Turns) 1 and 2. Kind of gave him enough cushion there that it didn’t matter.”

It’s a big way to start the year for Abreu, who will compete full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with ThorSport Racing.

The top five was filled out by Abreu, Clauson, Zach Daum, Jerry Coons, Jr. and Kyle Larson.

Unofficial Results

1. 97-Rico Abreu

2. 63-Bryan Clauson

3. 5D-Zach Daum

4. 5-Jerry Coons, Jr

5. 71K-Kyle Larson

6. 47X-Tim McCreadie

7. 91T-Tyler Thomas

8. 2X-Thomas Meseraull

9. 67-Tanner Thorson

10. 17-Joey Saldana

11. 8K-Blake Hahn

12. 71-Christopher Bell

13. 67Z-Kasey Kahne

14. 17G-Shane Golobic

15. 77B-Alex Bright

16. 17R-Ricky Stenhouse Jr

17. 24-Tracy Hines

18. 1-Sammy Swindell

19. 71G-Damion Gardner

20. 99P-Dillon Welch

21. 3B-Joe B. Miller

22. (DNF) 71X-Shane Cottle

23. (DNF) 38-Justin Grant

24. (DNF) 21-Daryn Pittman

25. (DNF) 2A-C.J. Leary[18]

NASCAR connections: Kasey Kahne finished the championship race in 13th … Rickey Stenhouse Jr. won the second B-Feature to advance to the main event, and Kyle Larson finished fifth to advance. Stenhouse finished the main event in 16th after a Lap 43 accident with Sammy Swindell. Larson came home in fifth … Christopher Bell was leading when he hit C.J. Leary and spun out early in the championship race. Bell went on to finish 12th … JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier captured the win in D-Feature 2 to advance. He was then eliminated in the first C-Feature in a three-car crash on the first lap … Alex Bowman spun out in Turn 3 of the first E-Feature of the night and wound up finishing 12th in the 10-lap race.

Notable: The race was briefly put under a red flag with 15 laps to go after a fan fell out of the stands and suffered minor injuries … Sammy Swindell was runner-up to Allgaier in the D-Feature and also advanced to the to the C-Features. With 15 laps left in the A-Main, Swindell was caught up in an accident with Ronnie Gardner, who had spun out in front of him … Alex Bright, the A-Feature winner on Tuesday night, flipped in an accident on Lap 33 of the championship race and finished 15th.

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.