Pro Late Models
Hunter Robbins Claims Five Flags Pro Late Model Opener
May 15, 2022
Sure, it wasn't the result Giovanni Ruggiero and Anthony Campi Racing wanted over the weekend in the Pro Late Model at Five Flags Speedway but there are often more important things early in the development cycle for a young driver anyway.
The 15-year-old held his own against eventual winner Hunter Robbins before a restart violation ultimately ended their chance to win the race, but the performance was another example of his raw potential.
In his first season driving Pro Late Models, Ruggiero already has victories in the CARS Tour at Greenville Pickens Speedway and in the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna. Again, the result of Saturday afternoon aside, Ruggiero feels proud of the performance and development thus far.
"It's been a good start, especially considering all these new tracks we've gone to, but I'm definitely still trying to figure it out," Ruggiero told Racing America over the weekend.
The most impressive run for Ruggiero might have come in his Georgia Pro Late Model Spring Nationals defeat at Watermelon Capital Speedway to Justin South. The veteran and rookie raced side by side for dozens of laps on the final run to the checkered without making significant contact on the tiny Georgia bullring.
Considering that Ruggiero earned an immediate reputation as an aggressive rookie at New Smyrna, what happened almost two months later showed an ability to quickly respond to development tasks.
"A lot of people said that was an awesome race to watch," Ruggiero said. "I feel like I showed that I’m a clean driver and am capable of racing someone for such a longer period of time."
The eponymous team owner of Anthony Campi Racing believes his youngest ward has a high ceiling and is looking forward to reaching those heights together in the coming years.
"We had some growing pains in Speedweeks with a win but also wrecking some cars," Campi said. "But ever since then, our races at Cordele and Montgomery have been very good."
Campi said he’d rather have a driver he needs to pull in then push.
"He’s really wide open," Campi said. "He has a ton of talent, he’s 100 percent effort all the time, and it’s just a matter of getting him to refine it and use those talents affectively."
Campi said ‘the sky is the limit’ for Ruggiero.
"We’re just trying to teach him the right way to go about things but I see a lot of traits that racers at the top levels have," Campi said. "He’s really mature and just needs to grow into that kind of racer."
A sign of that maturity, Ruggiero isn’t setting goals based on wins or podiums but rather progression.
"I just want to get better and better throughout the year," Ruggiero said. "I feel like consistency is key in racing. There are up and downs, but you become a better racer when you’re in the top-five every race and get to race the drivers and teams there."