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Cole Butcher Goes Back-to-Back, Wins ASA STARS Tar Heel 250 at Hickory

For the second race in a row with the ASA STARS National Tour, Cole Butcher went to victory lane Thursday night.

On this occasion, Butcher took the checkered flag in the Tar Heel 250 at Hickory Motor Speedway, adding to an extensive win list at the North Carolina track. The win also gives Wilson Motorsports back-to-back wins in the first two editions of the Tar Heel 250 ASA event, after Gio Ruggiero won in 2023.

Butcher readily passed the credit for Thursday’s win onto the Wilson Motorsports team, as they rallied from an 11th-place effort in qualifying to the victory.

“I didn’t win this race. They won that race,” Butcher said in reference to his Wilson Motorsports team. “My crew did an awesome job. We’ve struggled since yesterday. Hats off to Bond, Will, Jerry, Stump, Frankie, Bob, Chase, everybody.

“We struggled at the end, but it feels good. It feels really good.”

Butcher lingered outside the top five for most of the race, but made his move towards the front when it counted. The Canadian driver took the lead from Casey Roderick with 17 laps to go, then held on to the top spot on a late restart for the win.

“It was very difficult. I just couldn’t get off [turn] four like the rest of the guys. This guy worked on it all night, and here we are, sitting in victory lane.”

Roderick finished second, wishing he had more long runs at the end of the race to flex his muscle but also uncertain if he could have worked his way back around Butcher for the win.

“Restarts played a role,” said Roderick. “I think if I had stayed out in front of him, I could wear him down a little bit. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. My car didn’t fire off well on the restarts. I needed a few laps to get going. Once I got behind someone, I wasn’t as good, either. Just good, hard racing. Good run for us.”

While 250 laps can make for a long race at Hickory, Thursday’s race carried a frenetic pace and energy as teams were constantly looking skyward. Rain had delayed the start of the Tar Heel 250, and the possibility of more precipitation on the horizon left many wondering if the race would be completed to its scheduled distance.

That put pressure on competitors to get to the front as quickly as possible, as Roderick noted.

“With the weather coming in, we didn’t know what it was going to do. I just tried to get to the front as fast as we could,” said Roderick. “Then, we just leveled out in third there behind Chase [Elliott] for a while, just waiting for a pit stop to try and make it better.”

Dawson Sutton completed the podium, bouncing back from a couple of rough starts to open the ASA STARS National Tour season. While Sutton has had pace, the finishes have been disappointing with DNFs at both New Smyrna Speedway and Five Flags Speedway.

On Thursday, Sutton fought to the finish and earned the result to show for it.

“This is a really tough track,” said Sutton. “I had only been here once before. Fortunately, we kept the car clean and came away with a third-place finish.”

“I think we have a great team and I think we run good everywhere. We’ve had some really good runs in this series, like a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much luck, but tonight changes it around and I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Chase Elliott and Josh Berry took advantage of a mid-week event just down the road from the NASCAR Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. Berry finished fifth, while Elliott briefly challenged for the lead before having to pull behind the wall with an overheating issue.

“That was a bummer,” said Elliott. “I was having a lot of fun racing for the lead. We had the ductwork there, just right behind the nose, it started dragging right before we put on tires. I heard it start dragging the ground. We knew there was a chance it might stop getting air.

“When I got to racing with the leader there, I quit paying attention to how hot I was. I was having a hard time doing both. We got to battling hard. I’m not sure if it totally broke off or what happened, but the water temp just went sky-high and I didn’t catch it.”

Next for the ASA STARS National Tour is a Father’s Day weekend doubleheader in Wisconsin. The series will visit Madison International Speedway on Friday, June 14 for the Capital 200 before heading to The Milwaukee Mile on Sunday, June 16 for the Father’s Day 100.

-Photo credit: Jason Reasin

TAR HEEL 250 UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

Fin No Driver Laps Diff
1 28 Cole Butcher 250
2 26R Casey Roderick 250 1.209
3 26S Dawson Sutton 250 1.256
4 54 Matthew Craig 250 1.652
5 4 Josh Berry 250 2.227
6 26P Bubba Pollard 250 3.077
7 51 Stephen Nasse 250 3.336
8 9K Derek Kraus 250 4.489
9 14C Connor Okrzesik 250 4.691
10 62 William Sawalich 250 4.883
11 44 Conner Jones 250 5.695
12 14N Austin Nason 250 6.105
13 33S Dustin Smith 250 6.578
14 69 Michael Hinde 250 7.612
15 23 Billy VanMeter 249 1 Lap
16 50 Jett Noland 226 24 Laps
17 22 Gio Ruggiero 222 28 Laps
18 24 Brent Crews 196 54 Laps
19 7B Jackson Boone 184 66 Laps
20 30 Kyle Steckly 168 82 Laps
21 9E Chase Elliott 129 121 Laps
22 32 Caden Kvapil 118 132 Laps
23 25 Gavan Boschele 115 135 Laps
24 7C Justin Crider 107 143 Laps
25 45 Kodie Conner 34 216 Laps
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