CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With nearly a dozen career races at Eldora Speedway, Rico Abreu will be one of the most experienced drivers in the field for next week's Truck Series race.
It should be his best shot at winning his first career national NASCAR race and earning a spot in the Truck Series' playoffs.
Abreu doesn't look at it that way.
"I think I can win on a mile-and-a-half," Abreu said Wednesday. "I think it's a chance for me to win, I think it's a good shot. But I know if I don't win, I have plenty of other opportunities."
Abreu was going to get to test the dirt at Eldora earlier than most of the Truck Series drivers because he was scheduled to race this weekend at the Rossburg, Ohio, track in the Kings Royal, one of the most prestigious late model races in the country.
He was due to fly to Indianapolis in a plane piloted by Tony Stewart, owner of Eldora, who takes a participatory interest in track preparation in anticipation of next Wednesday's truck race.
Abreu loves Eldora — he's won a USAC race there and an All-Star Series race — and should be equal to Christopher Bell in terms of experience and success levels at the track when the green flag falls on the truck race. Bell won last year's truck race, the third at Eldora.
"I think the racing there, the style suits my driving style," Abreu said. "It's fast paced, you race up by the wall and it's just a place I really enjoy."
It's got many believing Abreu, a rookie in trucks, should be a favorite next week. He's not sure, though, based on mediocre first 10 races to the season.
"I haven't been doing that good," he said.
Abreu is 14th in the points with two top-10 finishes and is still adapting to the truck.
"I have speed at the wrong times of the race, and I just make a lot of little mistakes," he said. "I haven't been qualifying good the last few weeks. I feel like truck racing relies a lot on track position and that's not something I am good at just yet."
Abreu is also discouraged by his sprint car season, which has seen just seven wins so far despite racing about four times a week. He had 13 at this time last year, but he also had a much heavier schedule.
Because trucks take up the entire weekend, Abreu has cut his sprint car schedule from 80 races last year to 40. In all, he expects to race about 85 total events after 110 last year.
"I think I am just trying a lot harder," Abreu said. "It's harder to win races and everyone is getting better and equipment is getting better. I also think it's been harder for me to go back and forth to all these cars. But I only have 10 sprint car races left this year, then it's all trucks."
SUPER TRUCKS-SARA PRICE: The Stadium Super Trucks will have its first female competitor this weekend when Sara Price makes her debut at Toronto this weekend.
Price is a 23-year-old motocross and UTV racer from Southern California. She won over 17 national championships in motocross and medaled in the X-Games before making the switch to four wheels, winning several off-road and Time Attack racing championships.
Price wants to be the first woman to earn a spot on the podium in the series owned by Robby Gordon.
"When Robby Gordon called me two years ago saying I need to get into one of his Stadium Super Trucks, I just put my head down and started getting to work," she said. "SST is where I want to be, and I'm very pumped to be competing in the same exact truck as the other competitors, it's truly a dream come true."
The trucks used in the series run up to 140 mph and launch roughly 20 feet in the air as they travel over jump along the course. The trucks are identically prepared 650 horsepower machines.
FILIPPI RETURNS: Luca Filippi will be back in an Indy car this weekend when he drives for Dale Coyne Racing at Toronto.
Filippi will drive the No. 19 Honda at Toronto, where he finished a career-best second last season while driving for Ed Carpenter. Filippi drove the first four races this season for Coyne with a top finish of 17th place at Long Beach.
"It's one of my favorite races, not just because I finished on the podium in Toronto last year, but because it's one of the best events on the schedule and I love to race on street circuits," said Filippi.
The Italian has driven in 22 IndyCar races since 2013 and has raced at Toronto three previous times.
ELDORA NEW NAME: Major League Baseball balked at the name of Eldora Speedway's annual Truck Series race, so the Tony Stewart-owned dirt track has found a new title sponsor for the July 20 event.
The race had been called the Mudsummer Classic in each of its first three years. MLB raised issues about the name being too similar to its All-Star game, the Midsummer Classic.
Aspen Dental has now signed on as title sponsor for the truck race and it will now be called the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby. The race is NASCAR's only national event on a dirt track.
Aspen Dental is one of the primary sponsors for Danica Patrick, who drive the No. 10 in the Sprint Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing.
"Aspen Dental has leveraged its partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing and Danica Patrick really well and this new role with Eldora Speedway gives them another strong platform," said Stewart.
CHARITY RIDE: Kyle Petty's annual charity motorcycle ride raised more than $1 million this year, its 22nd annual trek.
The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America is the top cumulative donor to Victory Junction, a camp dedicated to providing experiences for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
Petty this year led 200 bikers on a 2,150-mile route, traveling from California to Mississippi from April 30 to May 6. Since 1995, more than 7,950 riders have logged more than 11.6 million cumulative motorcycle miles and raised $17.5 million for Victory Junction and other children's charities.
"We are extremely thankful for the incredible turnout year after year," said Petty. "Thanks to the outpouring of support for Victory Junction and the Ride, we'll be able to send even more kids to camp for years to come."