Giovanni Ruggiero got to the front early to defend his eight-point championship over Samantha Dell then gritted his teeth and held on as Joey LeMay grabbed second from Ethan Heilborn and began working him over for the lead. Dell recovered from a start at the rear following a spin in turn two and came up to challenge, getting under LeMay into second just before the white flag.
But Gio was keeping the lead to himself, and outlasted his challengers to the stripe to claim the race victory and the championship cup. Dell rolled in behind him, but lost two spots for a passing infraction, giving Nate Smith the runnerup spot and Heilborn gathered in third. Sammy D covered fourth.
Smith and Heilborn were front row for the kickoff, while the two championship contenders sat side-by-side in row two — with just eight points separating them. They came across the stripe wheel-to-wheel and all the way around to turn three. The lead duo drifted up and Ruggiero poked his nose under Smith. Joey LeBay was locked onto Gio’s bumper and slid under Dell. She spun out at that point as did LeMay with Isaiah Necomb ending up at the well. Riley Caron braked hard and avoided careening into Newcomb.
One lap complete and the restart had Heilborn under Smith and Thomas Dyment in row three. It was door-to-door out of the starting box and across the line. Ruggiero held onto third and got onto Heilborn’s bumper, then looked underneath as they went into lap two. He had the lead going through turn three. Smith, Heilborn, Bowden and Caron gave chase. Dell got by Caron on the next lap and dueled Bowden for position.
Five laps in, Ruggiero was cruising in the clear air with Smith in hot pursuit. Dell moved Bowden out of fourth and next time around, LeMay followed suit. But Dyment and Nick Chaber, Jr. got together on the front stretch between turn four and the line.
Ruggiero and Smith set up for the restart ahead of Heilborn and Dell. Giovanni nosed ahead of Smith and Heilborn ducked under. LeMay got under Dell to take over fourth. Heilborn jumped into second and Caron ducked under Smit, but Smith fired back and held his position. Dell moved in to challenge Caron.
With four to go, Ruggiero had powered out to a fifteen cars while directly behind him ran a three-wide challenge between LeMay, Dell and Smith. As Ruggerio stretched it out to a twenty-car advantage, LeMay prospered into the runnerup spot as Smith fell back out of the middle and Dell grabbed fourth.
As the twin sticks came up, Dell was on LeMay’s bumper and they had shaved Ruggiero’s lead to seventeen lengths. Dell got under LeMay at the white flag and took over second and Smith followed into third. Heilborn leveraged into fourth and LeMay held onto fifth.
That became the order of finish before Race Control moved Dell back to fourth, elevating Smith to second and Heilborn to third.
Sixth went to Caron, followed by Bowden, Chaber, Aubrey Keller and Dyment.
The win cemented the Bandit Division Championship for Ruggiero, his first such laurels in racing.