As a rookie this year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ranks, dirt-racing standout Rico Abreu knew there would be a steep learning curve in his first season competing on bigger, paved speedways in race trucks.

But Wednesday's truck race at Ohio's Eldora Speedway half-mile dirt track is another story and Abreu, 24, would be happy to provide the fairy-tale ending.

"I'm definitely looking forward to it," expressed Abreu in a recent phone interview, his voice animated with excitement.

"Just with my dirt experience and my success at Eldora, it's kind of like a plate race but without restrictors and without a super-speedway and you never know who's going to win. I feel like it's an even playing field."

Abreu nearly stood in Eldora's Victory Lane this past weekend, finishing second to Donny Schatz in the Tony Stewart-owned track's famed annual Kings Royal World of Outlaw Sprint event on Saturday. He placed third in races the previous two nights.

But perhaps more important, he collected a vital scouting report on the track for this Wednesday's Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby.

Rico Abreu

Abreu has won at Eldora before. He beat the great Dale Blaney at the track in the 2014 All Star Circuit of Champions season finale – the same year he won the USAC Midget Series National Championship. A year earlier, he won a USAC race there.

Clearly, Eldora is a place on the NASCAR schedule where Abreu feels at home, although contesting the annual one-off dirt race might feel a bit like the Wild West of racing.

"I think it's an advantage [to have raced there over the weekend],” commented Abreu.

“It's just getting a lot of track time and kind of having the chance to see what the track is going to be like.”

Of course, Eldora presents a huge opportunity to win and punch his ticket into the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase as well. Six races remain to set the eight-driver Chase field and Abreu is currently 14th in the driver standings.

"It's another chance I have of getting in the Chase," he added.

"If I don't Wednesday night, I'll have another shot at the next race. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself and I’m not too worried. I'm going to enjoy being at Eldora with all of my friends and enjoy the atmosphere.

"There are a ton of people there, a fireworks show and you get to see some asphalt trucks racing on dirt, which is new. I'm really looking forward to it.

“I had a lot of fun watching last year from up in the spotter's stand and I never knew I'd have a chance to race in it."

The established, two-time series championship ThorSport Racing team signed Abreu to drive the Safelite AutoGlass # 98 Toyota Tundra late this off season. With very limited pavement experience – although Abreu won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Columbus, Ohio in his seventh start – he is a solid 14th in the truck standings with a pair of top-10 efforts. His best was a ninth-place finish on the Texas Motor Speedway high banks in June.

Abreu's long-time friend and fellow Californian, Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson is a big supporter, and this week at Eldora, a prime competitor.

"Man, Rico... He almost won Texas a few weeks ago, so that was cool," commented Larson, who drives the # 42 Target Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing.

"He's been racing for less than 10 years. It's always taken him a year or two to get things rolling where he can be consistent and figure out how to win, but once he does, he's as good as it gets.

"In sprint cars it took him three years, probably, and now he's considered a favorite every time he goes to the race track. He'll learn a lot throughout this year of Truck racing, and hopefully by the end of the year he'll be consistently in the top 10."

He might even achieve this in his weekend at Eldora.

"I'm very lucky to be doing all this stuff," stated Abreu.

"I just wish I was doing better, to be honest. I haven't had the best results this year. But we're close. I just need to put a whole night together and I really feel like Eldora could be the turning point of my season."