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Cole Butcher Enjoys a Sunday Afternoon Drive at Pensacola

Unofficial Results PENSACOLA, FLORIDA - Canadian driver Cole Butcher started his 2024 march towards a potential ASA STARS National Tour title with a strong victory in the Sunshine State 200 at Five Flags Speedway.  Butcher rebounded from a distant ninth-place run at New Smyrna last won to lead the most laps out duel his teammate Gio Ruggiero for the win on Sunday 

“It was the best car I think I've ever had here,” said Butcher after the win. “I  Can't thank my crew, Wilson Motorsports, Bons Suess, Jerry Stump, Andrew, my wife, my parents, The list is long.  All the Five Flags staff,  just for putting this on, this is the best car I think I've ever had and I can't thank Gio for racing me clean,  it felt good.” 

Butcher passed Ruggiero for the final time with 23 laps to go as he sailed away for the win.  Butcher and Ruggerio are both out of the Donnie Wilson Motorsports stable and came home in first and third as multi-time Five Flags Speedway winner Stephen Nasse passed Ruggiero for second with 15 laps to go. 

It was a tough one,” said Nasse. “ It was a day full of ups and downs and had a lot of mistakes on my part on restarts, which absolutely just killed us out there. The track position was huge. The way these guys are running, they're running so fast.  I just want to thank Anthony Campi and his guys for bringing me a good piece, you know, we were there in contention.  We will get there soon.”  

It was a strong weekend for Ruggiero who won the ARCA East race the night before.  The defending Southern Super Series champion was in line at times to get his first win at Five Flags in the ASA ranks which were in combination with the Southern Super Series and the tracks Blizzard Series.  

“We had a good day, said Ruggiero.  “We fell back a little bit there in the beginning, but you know, just glad my teammate Cole Butcher won instead of me. You know, if I'm not gonna win, at least he won. So I raced him hard there and then tried not to give up the lead. I was just too tight.” 

Jacob Gomes had a solid fourth-place finish as GoFast Pole Award winner Matt Craig rebounded from an ill-handling car to post fifth.   

New Smyrna Speedway winner Bubba Pollard was in the top five most of the day but lost an engine with 25 laps to go,  That yellow set up the final dash to the checkered flags. 

Pollard wasn’t the only contender to have issues as rookie Dawson Sutton who paced practice on Saturday got to the lead before an oil leak took them out before halfway.  

Defending race winner Casey Roderick Spun before the lap 150 mark and rebounded to 11th. 

The rest of the top 10 were Michael Hinde, Jake Finch, Colby Howard, Jett Noland, and Sean Hignorani. 

The next ASA STARS National Tour event will be on Thursday, May 23rd at Hickory Motor Speedway (NCV) for the Tar Heel 250.  This will be the second trip to Hickory for the series and the third stop for the 2024 season. 

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