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Cole Butcher Wins ASA STARS National Tour Showdown at Five Flags

Cole Butcher took what he called the best car he's ever had at Five Flags Speedway to victory lane in the Sunshine State 200 on Sunday.


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Cole Butcher is no stranger to Five Flags Speedway, and has enjoyed plenty of success there. The Canadian has made the trip south to Pensacola, Florida on numerous occasions, including a pair of podium finishes in the Snowball Derby.

On Sunday, Butcher had what he called the best car he's ever driven at Five Flags, and took it all the way to the win in the ASA STARS National Tour Sunshine State 200. Butcher battled his Wilson Motorsports teammate, Gio Ruggiero, over the final 50 laps before pulling away from the field and winning by two seconds over Stephen Nasse to start the road to the 57th Annual Snowball Derby.

"This was the best car I think I've ever had here," said Butcher in victory lane.

"I can't thank Gio [Ruggiero enough] for racing me clean. This felt good."

While Ruggiero and Butcher were both representing the Wilson Motorsports stable, they pulled no punches when the race restarted following the stage two break at lap 150. The two cars made contact on several occasions battling for the top spot before Butcher crossed over Ruggiero and distanced himself for the win.

Butcher wouldn't have it any other way.

"Gio's really good, as you've seen yesterday, winning the ARCA race. He's a great racer, and I can't thank him enough. I wasn't getting him on the outside. He was really good on the bottom. I crossed him over and then we set sail. I just can't thank these Wilson guys enough.

"Once I heard my lap times, I just put my head down and set sail. This one feels good."

Nasse worked his way into the second position by passing Ruggiero with 15 laps to go. After qualifying eighth, Nasse hung around the top five most of the day before surging to the runner-up finish.

"It was a tough one," said Nasse. "A day full of ups and downs. I had a lot of mistakes on my part on restarts which absolutely killed us out there. Track position was huge. The way these tires are racing, aero is playing a part. You get behind somebody and it's tough to get by. You really had to work it just right."

While Ruggiero was disappointed with a third-place finish, he took solace in seeing his teammate in victory lane. Overall, it was a strong weekend for the New York native after winning on Saturday night in the ARCA Menards Series East event at Five Flags.

"We had a good day. We fell back a little bit there at the beginning. I'm glad my teammate, Cole Butcher, won. If I'm not going to win, at least he won. We were racing hard there and tried not to give up the lead. I was just too tight. I fought a really tight car all day and didn't really fix it, but that's alright. We learned, and we'll be back for the next one.

"It's not horrible. We didn't tear up the car today, so that's good. Like I say, I'm here to win, and we'll have to get it in the next one."

-Photo credit: Reid Scott, Liberty Racing Review


128BCole Butcher200---
251NStephen Nasse2002.100
322Gio Ruggiero2002.782
416Jacob Gomes2005.201
554Matthew Craig2005.430
669Michael Hinde2006.301
751FJake Finch2007.749
824Colby Howard2009.533
950Jett Noland2009.791
1013Sean Hingorani20010.275
1126RCasey Roderick20010.533
1223Billy VanMeter20011.218
1344Conner Jones20012.126
1433FAlbert Francis20012.535
1508HJace Hansen1991 Lap
1678Jo Lawrence1928 Laps
1726PBubba Pollard17525 Laps
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1930Kyle Steckly15050 Laps
2014CConnor Okrzesik14357 Laps
2114AMichael Atwell14159 Laps
2233SDustin Smith91109 Laps
2326SDawson Sutton77123 Laps
2432Caden Kvapil77123 Laps
2521Michael Goddard76124 Laps
2614NAustin Nason75125 Laps
271Kasey Kleyn74126 Laps
2828WTimothy Watson51149 Laps
2989Dylan Fetcho18182 Laps
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