Motorsport News

Gio Ruggiero Takes Maiden ARCA East Victory at Five Flags

2023 ARCA East Nashville Fairgrounds Giovanni Ruggiero, No. 20 Venturini Motorsports Toyota (Credit: Ben Branscum/

Gio Ruggiero scored his first career ARCA Menards Series East victory at Five Flags Speedway, as he dominated the closing stages of the Pensacola 150 to take the win.

William Sawalich, defending series champion and most recent winner on tour in Phoenix, once again looked strong in the first half of the race, as he started from the pole and led every lap before the halfway break.

Sawalich set such a blistering pace to open the race that only three cars remained on the lead lap through the race’s first half. It became clear early that Sawalich and Ruggiero were in a category all their own atop the running order.

After the halfway break, Ruggiero pounced on Sawalich on the restart to claim the lead, and he would not relinquish it. Although Sawalich drew close several times as he and Ruggiero worked through lapped traffic, Ruggiero held strong and kept the lead through the finish.

Short-track superstar Bubba Pollard finished a quiet third, as he finished his night where he ran for almost the entirety of the race. 

Fresh off his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut this afternoon at Circuit of the Americas, Connor Zilisch started the race in the rear before charging up as high as fourth before the race’s halfway break.

Unfortunately, just as his debut at COTA, Zilisch’s night turned for the worse as he encountered a fuel pickup problem that would take him out of contention for the win. He would, however, recover to score a solid fourth-place finish. 

Hunter Wright, another prolific short-track racer, rounded out the top five.

The ARCA Menards Series East will return to action on April 26th for the General Tire 150 from Dover Motor Speedway.

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