HICKORY, N.C. — Sixteen-year-old Gio Ruggiero passed NASCAR Cup Series points leader William Byron in the last corner to win Thursday night’s Tar Heel 250 for the ASA STARS National Tour at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Ruggiero inched ahead of Byron heading to the checkered flag and earned his first super late model victory by a mere .036 seconds.
Ruggiero, who led most of the second stage, talked about the final lap and the move that landed him in victory lane.
“That’s not how I wanted to win the race,” Ruggiero said. “But I didn’t come here to finish second. We were good on that long run there, I think I had something for them, but I think I just burned it up a little bit too much. But I got it done. That’s all that matters.”
For Byron, it’s his second-straight runner-up finish with the ASA STARS National Tour after also finishing second in the ECMD 150 at North Wilkesboro Speedway last Wednesday. He gave his point-of-view of the finish that was.
“I didn’t see much. I just saw the whole right side of his car in the left side of mine, about 20 times on the restart,” Byron stated. “I don’t know man, I guess that’s how a kid like that races. But look at his right front. It’s destroyed. We had a good car, they were definitely strong too, but just bad racing.”
Byron took the win in the first stage, while Jesse Love was the winner of stage two.
It was a mixed bag for the top three drivers in points Thursday night. Ty Majeski came out the best out of the three, with a fourth-place finish. Casey Roderick finished one lap down in 12th after going into the night as the points leader.
Bubba Pollard fell out of the race with a mechanical issue and was scored 23rd.
Gio Ruggiero, William Byron, Cole Butcher, Ty Majeski, Caden Kvapil, Chase Elliott, Stephen Nasse, Austin Nason, Jett Noland, Michael Hinde, Jesse Love, Casey Roderick, Ross Strmiska, Billy VanMeter, Matthew Craig, Albert Francis, Dustin Smith, Tyler Tanner, Jackson Boone, Blaine Rocha, Carson Hocevar, Kodie Conner, Bubba Pollard, Jake Finch, Tony Elrod