FMS: Ruggiero wins at martinsville

Martinsville, VA---Ricky Craven and Reggie Ruggiero were the men Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. Craven, driving the Midwest Transit Chevrolet, led second round qualifying as the 43-car field was completed for Sunday's $2,115,007, 45th...

Martinsville, VA---Ricky Craven and Reggie Ruggiero were the men Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. Craven, driving the Midwest Transit Chevrolet, led second round qualifying as the 43-car field was completed for Sunday's $2,115,007, 45th annual NAPA AutoCare 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race. And Ruggiero captured the wild, $87,211 Goody's Body Pain 200 for NASCAR Featherlite Modified cars in the Les Care Kitchens Pontiac. Craven, with a fast lap of 94.036 miles per hour on the .526-mile track, was the only driver to make it in the field in Saturday's time trials while the other starters stood on their Friday speeds or used provisionals. He will start 36th. Other starters include Mike Bliss, Kyle Petty, John Andretti, Hut Stricklin, Stacy Compton, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Johnny Benson, Sterling Marlin, and Jeremy Mayfield. Provisionals were used by Matt Kenseth, Terry Labonte, Ken Schrader, Kurt Busch, Kevin Lepage, Michael Waltrip, and Elliott Sadler, who will be making the Wood Brothers' 1,000th NASCAR Winston Cup start. Failing to make the field were Scott Pruett, Steve Grissom, Carl Long, Dave Marcis and Rich Bickle. Eleven-time Martinsville winner Darrell Waltrip, who will start 18th, will be making his final start here before retiring from behind the wheel at the end of the season. Tony Stewart, who turned a fast lap of 95.371 miles per hour in a Pontiac on the .526-mile track, and Rusty Wallace and Jeff Burton, who also broke the old record in Fords, will start one-two-three in the final short track battle of the season. The top 25 starters were the closest in the track's 53-year history with only .185 of a second separating them. "This is a good starting spot," Stewart said. "I'm kind of encouraged because our race cars are normally better than our qualifying cars. I think we've got a good shot at it but this place is one of the toughest to get around." Ruggiero, who is from Rocky Hill, CT, has won the last three Modified races held in Virginia, including this event in 1999 and a race at Richmond. It was his second victory of the season, his fourth career Martinsville triumph and his 41st overall. He finished .231 seconds in front of Featherlite Modified point leader Jerry Marquis, Tom Baldwin was third then came Rick Fuller and Ken Woolley, Jr. Ruggiero earned $10,000 while Marquis took home $9,700. Ten cars finished on the lead lap. "I race for a living and this is great," Ruggiero said. "It's always a kick to win Martinsville." Ruggiero took the lead for good on the 192nd lap when he tangled with leader Ted Christopher, who wrecked against the second turn wall and finished 19th. Modifieds have open wheels and his right front touched Christopher's left rear, causing the spin. "It was very light contact," Ruggiero said. "I had a good run to go under him and he came down on me." There was an event record seven lead changes among six drivers with Ruggiero leading 61 laps, Christopher 54, Baldwin 52, Fuller 23, Tommy Cravenho, Jr. nine and L.W. Miller, III one. Eleven caution flags for 74 laps, an event record, held Ruggiero's average speed to only 66.175 miles per hour, the slowest Goody's race ever held after Fuller had qualified on the pole at 98.415 miles per hour on the .526-mile track. With the win, Ruggiero trails Marquis by only eight points in the standings with only one race left, the World Series of Racing, at Thompson, CT on October 15. Sunday's NAPA AutoCare 500 starts at 1 p.m. and reserved seats still are available as well as seats in the Family Section.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Rich Bickle , Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Kevin Lepage , Sterling Marlin , Stacy Compton , Scott Pruett , Johnny Benson , Ricky Craven , Steve Grissom , Mike Bliss , L.W. Miller , Ken Woolley , Carl Long , Elliott Sadler , Ted Christopher