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Ruggiero Turns Focus to Salem After STARS Win at Hickory

Gio Ruggiero discussed his Hickory win and this Saturday's race at Salem on Racing America's "The Bullring."


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Gio Ruggiero garnered plenty of attention after winning the ASA STARS National Tour's Tar Heel 250 at Hickory Motor Speedway one week ago in a thrilling side-by-side battle with William Byron. Now, his focus turns to Salem Speedway as he looks for another Super Late Model win.

Ruggiero appeared on Wednesday's episode of "The Bullring" on Racing America to discuss his first career Super Late Model win.


With the amount of success Ruggiero has enjoyed in Late Model competition already in his young career, it may come as a surprise that the victory last Thursday was the first in a Super Late Model for the Massachusetts native.

The win also surprised Ruggiero to an extent, as he had some question marks going into his first ever race at Hickory Motor Speedway.

“Wilson Motorsports brought me a great car. We were really fast all day, through practice, qualifying and throughout the whole race," said Ruggiero. "That was my first time there at Hickory. I had tested there one time, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out when we showed up to race. I wasn’t sure if I’d struggle or be good. I was pretty surprised with myself, but the car definitely helped out, we had a really fast car.”

The race proved to be a classic, with plenty of side-by-side racing throughout a field that featured the nation's top Super Late Model racers in the ASA brand's return to Hickory as well as a pair of NASCAR Cup Series competitors in William Byron and Chase Elliott. The fans who packed the grandstands at Hickory to see this star-studded field were treated to an exhilarating finish, as Byron and Ruggiero bounced off one another coming to the checkered flag with Ruggiero taking the win.

“There was definitely a lot of cheering after the race. I thought we put on a great show for the fans. I thought it was pretty awesome to see.”

The aggressive finish led to some harsh comments from Byron following the race. However, Ruggiero believes the physical nature of the race leading up to the last lap justified the scrap for the win.

“The way he was racing us gave me the okay to give it back to him. I just waited until that last lap when it mattered the most to do it. It all worked out in our favor and we brought home the trophy."

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Now, Ruggiero's focus turns to very different track, Salem Speedway. Unlike the tight confines of the 0.363-mile bullring in Newton, North Carolina, Salem is a fast, high-banked facility measuring just over a half-mile. It will once again be a new track for Ruggiero.

“This weekend, we are going to race the Super again at Salem. That will be my first time,” said Ruggiero. “I think our car will be really good. I just need to try to study as hard as I can before the race, study film from past races there, see what works in the race and what doesn’t. I’ll go out during practice and try out different things, see what works and what doesn’t to make speed.”

Race fans can watch Saturday's ASA/CRA Super Series event at Salem on Racing America. The green flag will drop on feature racing at 7 p.m. ET. The Midwest Vintage Race Club, JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Pro Late Models, and GAS Series will join the ASA/CRA Super Series in competition.