By Bryan Gapinski
Belleville, Kan., July 30---Defending Champion Rico Abreu captured the 25-lap feature on ThursdayNight, kicking off the 38th annual Belleville Midget Nationals on the Belleville High Banks. The victory in the USAC Honda National Midget Series event, re-establishes himself as the favorite for Saturday’s 40-lap Championship Feature.
            Series point leader Kevin Thomas Jr. jumped into the lead at the start followed by his Kunz/Curb-Agajanian teammates Christopher Bell, Tanner Thorson and Abreu. Polesitter Steve Buckwalter slowed on the second lap, three cars made contact with the stalled car of Buckwalter. Tyler Nelson flipped six times and Chet Gehrke also flipped. Both drivers escaped injury.
             Two additional cautions between laps three thru seven slowed the pace of the event. Abreu moved into third place on Lap 5, and the second position  three laps later. Abreu trailed Thomas by four car lengths when Thomas suffered engine problems, bringing out the caution and retiring from the event.
On the restart Abreu pulled away from Bell, and ran the remainder of the race unchallenged scoring the victory driving the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian owned Bullet/Toyota No.97. “The car was great on the cushion tonight” commented Abreu who won his second career preliminary night feature at the track. Bell, Thorson, Tracy Hines and Zach Daum completed the top five.
Thirty-one cars competed in the evening’s events, the largest car count since the 2010 event. The team of Will Popelka and Dustin Vannortwich won the 15-lap Cruisers feature.
 
SUMMARY
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.603; 2. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-17.628; 3. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.652; 4. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-17.652; 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 67k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.679; 6. Steve Buckwalter, 25, Buckwalter-17.747; 7. Cody Brewer, 96, Central Motorsports-17.765; 8. Rico Abreu, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.772; 9. C.J. Johnson, 45x, Martin-17.939; 10. Dave Darland, 63, RKR/Curb-Agajanian-17.956; 11. Jerry Coons Jr., 27, Heffner-17.956; 12. Spencer Bayston, 39, Clauson-18.165; 13. Matt Johnson, 85, Central Motorsports-18.189; 14. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-18.190; 15. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-18.251; 16. Michelle Decker, 4M, Meents-18.284; 17. Tyler Nelson, 88, Nelson-18.439; 18. Chad Frewaldt, 75, Frewaldt-18.474; 19. Kyle Jones, 69x, Hefler-18.508; 20. Chett Gehrke, 11c, Matteson-18.548; 21. Jeff Stasa, 91, SBR-18.583; 22. Patrick Stasa, 19s, SBR-18.769; 23. Hunter Fischer, 24F, Fischer-18.839; 24. Warren Johnson, 313, Frewaldt-19.293; 25. Aaron Schuck, 53, SET-19.299; 26. Johnny Murdock, 0, Zero-20.328; 27. Patrick Lawson, 0B, Zero-20.557; 28. Robert Bell, 71B, Bell-20.771; 29. Blake McMillan, 727, McMillan-21.191; 30. Tyler Dunkle, 0D, Zero-NT; 31. Morgan Frewaldt, 926, Frewaldt-NT.
 
      FIRST HEAT : (8 laps) 1. C.J. Johnson, 2. Bell, 3. K.Thomas, 4. J.Stasa, 5. Nelson, 6. M.Johnson, 7. Schuck, 8. McMillan. 2:22.13
 
      SECOND HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Hines, 2. T.Thomas, 3. Buckwalter, 4. Darland, 5. C.Frewaldt, 6. Dunkle, 7. P.Stasa, 8. Murdock. 2:22.68
 
      THIRD HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Thorson, 2. Coons, 3. Brewer, 4. Chapple, 5. Jones, 6. Fischer, 7. Lawson,. 2:24.42
 
      FOURTH HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Abreu, 2. Daum, 3. Bayston, 4. Gehrke, 5. Decker, 6. W.Johnson, 7. Bell. 2:21.95
 
      SEMI : (12 laps) 1. Jones, 2. C.Frewaldt, 3. Decker, 4. M.Johnson, 5. Nelson, 6. W.Johnson, 7. Schuck, 8. Murdock, 9. Bell, 10. Lawson, 11. McMillan, 12. Fischer. 3:47.04
 
      FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Rico Abreu, 2. Christopher Bell, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Zach Daum, 6. Jerry Coons Jr., 7. Tyler Thomas, 8. Spencer Bayston, 9. Isaac Chapple, 10. Matt Johnson, 11. Aaron Schuck, 12. Cody Brewer, 13. Kevin Thomas Jr., 14. Dave Darland, 15. Kyle Jones, 16. Warren Johnson, 17. C.J. Johnson, 18. Jeff Stasa, 19. Steve Buckwalter, 20. Michelle Decker, 21. Chett Gehrke, 22. Tyler Nelson, 23. Chad Frewaldt, 24. Johnny Murdock. NT
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**Gehrke and Nelson flipped on lap 2 of the feature.
 
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 K.Thomas, Laps 12-25 Abreu.


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