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John Ruggiero Jr. Races to Charlotte Victory

John Ruggiero Jr. Races to Charlotte Victory

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 31) — It wasn’t very difficult to pick out John Ruggiero Jr.’s entry as the Crate Late Model portion of the Drydene World Short Track Championship took place Saturday night at the Dirt Track at Charlotte, which is located across the street from 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.
That was his stark white No. 44 car sitting at the front of a 26-car field that was culled from a strong entry listed that reached 50 drivers, and Ruggiero was notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which was a strong heat race performance behind the wheel of the lone machine in the field without a major sponsor listed anywhere on the sheet metal.

Someone may want to consider putting their company name on those empty quarter panels, because Ruggiero upended a strong field in his Earl Ramey Racing Engines-powered machine to win one of the most prestigious events of the season, taking the honors over Brandon, Fla., driver Kyle Bronson, Gray Parton, Clay Harris and Cody Overton.
He pulled the coveted pole during a prerace draw for position, and used that good fortune to lead from start to finish en route to a $4,000 victory in a DirtCar Racing-sanctioned multi-division event that features weekly racers from across the country, and also served as a non-points event for the Adairsville, Ga-based Newsome Raceway Parts-sponsored Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series.

“No doubt that redraw for position was a big part of our performance, because clean air is real important to these cars and starting up front was definitely an advantage,” Ruggiero said. “We were extremely happy with the car in hot laps and qualified well, and to say the least we’re thrilled to win this race. The best way to put it is we’ve been coming here now for a few years, and I’ve watched guys win this race and kinda looked up to them as some of the top drivers in the division, and I really wanted to be able to put my name on that winner’s list with ‘em.”

He did so, and without much doubt, although Bronson emerged in the runner-up spot after a flurry of five early caution flags slowed the race during the opening seven circuits. When the dust settled, Bronson was sitting on Ruggiero’s back bumper for the fifth restart, and Ruggiero was well aware of his presence.

“I knew he’d started fifth, and to hold him [Bronson] off for the win through a couple more restarts after that one made us feel pretty good about our day,” Ruggerio said. “We saw his number pop up on the scoreboard, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It really made me think on that restart when he was behind us for the first time, because I knew he’d be there to capitalize on any mistake I might have made. I just tried to keep calm, and concentrate on my restarts. He’s one of the best crate racers in the country, and we feel fortunate to be able to hold him off for the win.”

Ruggiero, who started racing at age 13, is employed in the motorsports industry. He has raced around the Charlotte region running local events for most of his career, competed with the SECA organization before it was purchased by Crate Racin’ USA last winter, and was very appreciative after winning the event at the motorsports capital.
Doing so with an unsponsored car? You’ll not find a more humble person, and the well-spoken driver explained his family-fielded operation’s success as extremely important to his potential future.

“It’s been a tough season with all of this Covid-19 happening,” Ruggerio said. “It’s probably affected all of us who race, but we’re not much different than anybody else. We’ll never complain about not having sponsorship, and we just do what we can with what we have. I’m extremely blessed to have the support from my family that allows us to compete when we can, and we take a lot of pride in what we accomplish. We have a lot of fun doing it, and we do it on a level that we can make work, and it really means a lot.”
At the moment, Ruggiero couldn’t be more well known. A victory at the Dirt Track at Charlotte tends to do that for you.

“We’re looking forward to possibly traveling more next season, and hitting different events to help get our name out there a little bit more,” Ruggiero said. “The whole weekend couldn’t have gone better for us, and we’re truly thankful to be able to win a race here.”

Drydene World Short Track Championship: 1. John Ruggiero Jr., 2. Kyle Bronson, 3. Gray Parton, 4. Clay Harris, 5. Cody Overton, 6. Timbo Mangum, 7. Justin Hudspeth, 8. Donald Bradsher, 9. Brett Hamm, 10. Layton Sullivan, 11. Jamison McBride, 12. Dale Moore, 13. Lucas Ruark, 14. Matt Long, 15. Richard Kuiken, 16. Bryan Mullis, 17. Gary Dillon, 18. Garrett Mosley, 19. Jody Knowles, 20. Logan Roberson, 21. Ty Ellis, 22. T.J. Salango, 23. Dillon Brown, 24. Wil Herrington, 25. Braeden Dillinger, 26. Justin Smith.


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