Inside the Tanner Thorson, Christopher Bell Chili Bowl Duel
Jan 19, 2022
What is left for Rico Abreu to accomplish after winning two Golden Drillers and a USAC National Midget championship over the past decade?
Rico wants to become an upper-case, proper noun, Outlaw.
The next frontier, piece by piece, has been building the foundation to join the World of Outlaws full-time in the coming years. In 2022, the 29-year-old will be one step closer to that goal as he expands his program to 80 percent of the schedule -- including the Knoxville Nationals, Kings Royal, Historical Big One, National Open, High Bank Nationals and World Finals.
With support from Lucas Oil, Pit Pay App and Rowdy Energy, Abreu added another significant piece of the puzzle last month when he hired veteran crew chief Ricky Warner. The 10-time World of Outlaws champion with Donny Schatz and Tony Stewart Racing could be the final foundation piece to go full-time if they immediately show prowess together in the early months.
And those relationships are the keys to becoming a full-time Outlaw.
The relationship with Keith Kunz is well-documented and the Rico Abreu Racing Sprint Car is housed out of the Columbus, Indiana KKM shop. Abreu has spent the past decade accumulating these sponsors and partners.
Pit Pay and Rowdy Energy came together through a relationship with spotter and marketing guru Frank Bolter. Warner has been a fixture in his career during that time as Abreu won eight times in WoO competition against Schatz and TSR.
Relationships are the key for Abreu to go full-time.
"I've always wanted to structure myself and my career around the best people," Abreu told Racing America at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. "Keith Kunz, Paul Silva, ThorSport. I've always been lucky and blessed to be around good people. And that's what it takes to do this, putting those pieces together and maintaining those relationships to keep yourself in good race cars."
Abreu’s victories in Outlaws competition have come in the form of two Gold Cup titles (2016, 2018) at Silver Dollar Speedway, two Ironman 55 titles (2016-17) at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, two additional wins at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, and one win each at Stockton Dirt Track and Arizona Speedway.
Now, with Warner, Abreu feels like he has a crew chief needed to contend for a championship when the time comes.
"He's the best, and you need the best to race against the World of Outlaws."