Rico Abreu Race Recap:
Rico Abreu, driver of the No. 98 Safelite/Curb Records Toyota Tundra, made his track debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday in the rain-postponed NC Education Lottery 200. Starting from the 10th position, when Friday afternoon's qualifying session was cancelled due to rain, and the field was set based on the rule book - Thursday's practice speeds - Abreu was able to maintain a position inside the top-10 through the races first 20 laps, although he was battling a tight Toyota Tundra. Crew chief Doug George brought the No. 98 machine to pit road under the first caution at lap 24 for two tires and fuel. A mix of two, and four tire pit strategy on pit road, allowed the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to restart first for the lap 28 restart, leading his first laps in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) competition.
Continuing to fight a tight Toyota Tundra, the Safelite driver fell to 10th by the time the series second caution flag of the day was waved at lap 68 for an expired caution clock. George brought the No. 98 machine to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment to aid in the handling. Restarting eighth, Abreu looked strong on the restart, working his way to third by lap 90 and settling into the seventh position by lap 110. Unfortunately, the ThorSport Racing driver tagged the wall late in the 134 lap event, suffering right rear damage, but was able to continue under green the scheduled distance.
In the races final laps, the caution clock expired with less than 20 laps remaining, forcing teams to play their fuel strategy cards. At lap 122, with 12 laps remaining, Abreu, who was running seventh, was forced to bring his No. 98 Safelite Tundra to pit road for fuel only. Unfortunately, a pit road violation, for pitting outside the box, would force the rookie driver to make a pass through penalty, and ultimately lose a lap to the leaders. After a strong run, the Rutherford, Calif. native would be credited with a 20th-place finish behind teammate and race winner, Matt Crafton.
"I felt like I really let my guys down on that last green flag stop tonight. I was so focused on not sliding my tires, and then stopped too late in our box and my nose was outside the line. We had a great race today, showed our strength, and just a mistake, late in the race, caused us a good finish. I'll learn from this, and move on to Texas in a couple weeks."