Rico Abreu is just like every other driver on the NASCAR circuit. He wants to go fast and he wants to win.
Despite his stature—he’s only 4-foot-4 and weighs 95 pounds—Abreu is carving out a path for himself in the sport. Following his triumph in the 2015 Chili Bowl, Abreu has found a home with HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks in the K&N Pro Series East.
Born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder of bone growth and the most common cause of dwarfism, Abreu has not allowed it to hold him back. The 23-year-old driver has successfully made the move from dirt of sprint car racing to the asphalt of NASCAR thus far.
Before he wrapped up his first K&N season, the NASCAR Next member sat down to speak with Chicken Bone Alley at Richmond International Speedway.
Chicken Bone Alley: How much did the Chili Bowl win propel you to where you are now?
Rico Abreu: The Chili Bowl was huge. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for that race. But mostly what’s helped get me to this point are my friends on the Cup side. With Harry Scott, Justin Marks and Kyle [Larson], I’ve built such great relationships with those guys and they’ve supported me from sprint cars all the way up to the K&N Series.
CBA: Your fan base has grown a lot since that point. What has the reaction been like and how much are you enjoying the added attention?
Abreu: It’s been overwhelming at times, but it’s a great feeling—especially in this sport. I think as long as I keep having success and good results people will start to know me more. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m having a blast with it. I’m really busy at the track all the time, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
CBA: You mentioned your relationship with Kyle Larson helping you get to this point. Is the plan to see your career follow a similar path to the Sprint Cup level?
Abreu: (Laughs) Oh, I definitely would love to follow that career path. I’ve just got to make sure I’m in the right place at the right time. So far I have been. He’s done such a great job with everything that’s been placed on him so far and it would be awesome to get to that point. But if you’re not winning races, people aren’t really looking at you. So I put it on myself to change that.
CBA: I know your dad played an integral role in getting you started when he built a 1/8-mile track for you in the backyard.
Abreu: Yeah, I don’t get to run it as much anymore, but that was one of the best ways to learn. It’s always there when I need it.
CBA: How important was that in helping shape you as a driver?
Abreu: Oh, that was massive for me because I got to go out there all the time to race and have my buddies over to see how I matched up with them. … My dad has been a huge part of my life and has always supported me a bunch.
CBA: What’s one of the biggest difficulties for you driving in a stock car versus a sprint car?
Abreu: The biggest change for me so far has been getting used to the tracks. Having to learn courses that I’ve never driven at before has been tough, but we’ve done well. I’m really happy with the setup of the inside of the car, so that hasn’t been a huge change. But I only have about six stock car starts under my belt, so it’s all new to me. I couldn’t ask for a better team to help me get started, though, so I know we’ll get better.
CBA: Off the track, what’s something that most fans probably wouldn’t know about you?
Abreu: I’m a pretty easy going dude. I like the outdoors, spending time with my friends and follow just about every type of racing. When I’m not in the car I just like seeing my fans and how much of a base we’ve built in racing. Everywhere I go I just love meeting new fans because they mean so much to us in this sport.
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