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Ruggiero, Nasse Clash in Battle for 52nd Winchester 400 Win

Gio Ruggiero took the win in the ninth race of the ASA STARS National Tour season, drawing the ire of two-time Winchester 400 winner Stephen Nasse in the process.


hero image for Ruggiero, Nasse Clash in Battle for 52nd Winchester 400 Win

After more than 390 laps of racing at Winchester Speedway, tempers flared after Gio Ruggiero won the 52nd Winchester 400 on a late-race restart.

Stephen Nasse led the field to the green flag with nine laps to go in the ASA STARS National Tour event and chose the outside line on the restart with Gio Ruggiero to his inside. As the two cars raced into turn one, they made contact with Nasse going into the outside wall and falling to fourth position.

Ruggiero led the rest of the way for the biggest win of his career, while Nasse stopped his car alongside Ruggiero’s on the frontstretch after the race where a heated altercation ensued.

While Ruggiero’s approach ruffled feathers, he stood by his approach to the closing laps and doing what it took to claim the coveted Winchester rifle.

“It’s awesome,” said Ruggiero. “Everybody on the team worked so hard. We all put in so much effort to win. I came here to win today, and that’s what we did.”

“He picked the outside, and I was on the bottom. I drove it in there hard and took the lead. Not really sure what happened. I think he might have got into the marbles up there, all the dirt, lost turn and got into the fence. I’m here to win, I took the opportunity and capitalized."

With the win, Ruggiero also claimed the ASA/CRA Super Series championship. Ruggiero had previously won the ASA Southern Super Series championship as well.

Nasse recovered to finish third, passing William Sawalich in the closing laps. He was unquestionably disappointed by how the race played out, and vowed to remember Ruggiero’s decision in future races.

“We lined up and I took the outside. I knew I needed to get a good restart and get him clear going into one. I wasn’t able to do that and he got a pretty good restart, he was door-to-door with me. He just drove in there, didn’t lift until he ran into me and run me up into the wall.

“I’m pretty pissed off, but at the same time I understand. I’ve been in that situation. I won’t forget it. We have a lot more racing to do together. I definitely owe him one now. You gain a lot more respect out of running clean. Who knows? Me and him could have raced there and he might have been able to get me straight up.

“Just going in there and knocking me in the wall is definitely not the way to do it. He’ll learn that, it takes time. It took me a little while to learn it, but here we are. We almost got three rifles, but we’ll be back next year to go at it again.”

Cole Butcher finished second in the race, which proved to be an incredible points day for the Canadian in his ASA STARS National Tour title aspirations. Unofficially, Butcher closed the points deficit to 20 markers on Ty Majeski going into the season-ending All American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Nevertheless, Butcher was disappointed after leading more than 200 laps in the race, only to come up second after repeated contact with the outside wall during the race.

“I just kept hitting the wall. Probably little bit of aggression on my part, trying to win the stage, it sucked me in,” said Butcher. “The first one, I don’t think it was my fault. That 5 car, I don’t think he had a full understanding I was to the outside of him. He got into me and I got into the marbles.

“The second time, I was racing hard with Nasse for the stage win and took myself out. Finally bent something and took our chances away from winning. We’ll move on to Nashville.”

Butcher says a much-tighter points battle will not change how he approaches the All American 400 on November 5.

“You’ve got to go win, regardless. Majeski will be good there. If he breaks, it’ll be a different story, but we’re going there to win. Points will take care of themselves."

William Sawalich finished fourth, with Dakota Stroup rounding out the top five.

This year's Winchester 400 saw 18 lead changes among eight drivers. The 18 lead changes is the most in the recorded history of the event, which began in 1970.

The ASA STARS National Tour will complete its season on Sunday, November 5 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway with another crown jewel, the All American 400. Fans will be able to watch that event on Racing America.

-Photo credit: Will Bellamy/Racing America


122Gio Ruggiero400---
228Cole Butcher4000.921
351NStephen Nasse4001.170
42William Sawalich4001.707
547Dakota Stroup4002.634
666Logan Bearden4004.328
718Chase Burda4004.936
814Austin Nason4005.202
951FJake Finch4005.937
1040Jordan Miller3991 Lap
1135Jake Garcia3991 Lap
1242Jaden Cretacci38218 Laps
135DAndrik Dimyauga37921 Laps
1477Brandon Varney37624 Laps
1530Noah Gragson34654 Laps
1633FAlbert Francis31090 Laps
1723Billy VanMeter294106 Laps
18131Blake Rowe291109 Laps
195ADalton Armstrong173227 Laps
2069Michael Hinde58342 Laps
2191Ty Majeski26374 Laps
223Chris Munson15385 Laps
231Jon Beach13387 Laps
2461Evan Varney8392 Laps
2542CJ.P. CrabtreeDNS