Martinsville II: Riggs - Dodge Friday interview

SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Stanley Tools/Valvoline Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON YOUR TEAM "I think we're doing a good job considering we're a brand new team this year. We've got good teammates as well. Everybody seems to be working well together, not ...

SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Stanley Tools/Valvoline Dodge Charger)

COMMENT ON YOUR TEAM "I think we're doing a good job considering we're a brand new team this year. We've got good teammates as well. Everybody seems to be working well together, not just drivers but team directors and the engineers are working as one big group. We had three races in a row that we actually ran over something on the racetrack or blew a tire and ended up in the wall. Three races in a row makes it pretty hard to keep your chin up, but we came back right after that, went to Lowe's and sat on the pole there. We had a great car there. All of a sudden the handling got away from us and we didn't know why. Everyone has to tear down if you're on the pole. We get back to the shop and put the car back together and tried to figure out what went wrong. Actually part of the frame was broken and started to pull away. I guess there was so much load and stress on the car through the tires and so much grip on the racetrack and that car was a car we ran a lot so it had a lot of stress and fatigue in it. Things like that keep happening to us. I don't think it's because we're making bad judgment calls or making bad decisions as a team. I think we're doing the right things and improving the car as the weekend goes on. We're improving the car during the race. It just seems like here lately we've done exceptionally well on our qualifying efforts but not been able to hold it all the way through until the end of the race."

WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR MARTINSVILLE? "The biggest thing about this place is just surviving. You can have a good car, but you need to qualify well. I hope our good, strong qualifying efforts continue this weekend. At the same time we need to be able to hold that track position and stay somewhere near the front all day to have a shot at a good finish. In the spring race here we did finish 10th, but at one point we were a lap down and really weren't running well. We made some adjustments to the car and we were fortunate enough to be in the right position to get the Lucky Dog and get back on the lead lap. That was good for us, but we don't need to take a chance or let something slip by us that puts us back to a lap down like we did before. We need to stay in the hunt and stay on the lead lap all the time."

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO REALIZE YOU MADE THE RIGHT MOVE WHEN YOU JOINED THIS TEAM? "Actually it didn't even take to Daytona. Actually I felt so good about the team and organization as soon as I went over there to Evernham, actually at the end of last year with about six or seven races to go, about the same time as now, I actually started going to Evernham's shop, trying to get to know the guys, put some faces with the names and figure out how this organization operates. As soon as I got over there and sat in on some team meetings and listened to all the engineers and ideas and the way they were thinking, the things they were talking about, the things they were looking at as far as the problem they were trying to figure out. It was such a fine-tuned area, figuring out what new tires were going to feel like, figuring out how setups were going to change, how tire construction was going to change it. I knew right then I was in the right place. They were asking the right questions. I feel like the team I was with before asked such vague questions -- 'Where is our geometry on this car? Where is our body on this car?' So many times we'd get 'we don't know.' Every car across the board there was different. Inconsistency is what loses championships and is what loses races. If your car is not consistent there's no way you can find a common thread of consistent changes and adjustments you make to the car to make it work. As soon as I came on board and saw how consistent they were with their cars, how their program was already so far advanced from where I had been with a Cup team before, I knew it was right. That's why when I didn't make Daytona, that was the only thing that kept me smiling. I knew there was so much more potential here at Evernham Motorsports than I'd ever been offered before. The other team is on the rebound now. They've got some big dollars backing their team. They've got the right ideas of where to spend their money and how to make their cars consistent and be competitive, but at the same time, that takes time. The biggest question in my mind when I came to Evernham was 'do I want to start over again with a brand new team? How hard is that going to be?' After landing with Evernham and talking to everyone and getting to know everyone's personalities and attitudes, I knew that's where I needed to be and this is a good opportunity for me."

COMMENT ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE "As odd as this sounds, this place probably has the same mindset that all the guys in The Chase went to Talladega with. We go from the biggest track to the smallest track, and I bet they have the same kind of thoughts because your close quarters on the racetrack are going to be exactly. At Talladega it was a big crapshoot of 'man, do I miss the wreck or do I get taken out if something happens because there's so little you can do if there's no time between cars.' This place is going to be the same way. Drivers in The Chase are going to think about they need to qualify well. That's the first thing and foremost on their mind today. Tomorrow they're going to figure out where they qualifying and what the game plan is going to be with their car and how their car needs to feel and be drivable on the racetrack and be able to make passes or hold their position at least to figure out how to put themselves in position to have a good finish. Then when it comes down to the race on Sunday it's going to be make sure to take care of your car, don't get impatient, be careful, make sure you give other guys respect. As soon as someone in The Chase disrespects someone else on the racetrack they're racing close quarters with, that's the time that guy is going to lash out and say 'hey, this guy's got more to lose than I do' and he'll get turned around in the fence somewhere. I think all the guys in The Chase know that and that's why they're in The Chase. They have a lot of discipline behind the wheel and I think they know how to get a lot of respect and they earn a lot of respect for that. I think everybody is shooting at it to survive first. This is a 500-(lap) race, and I think they're shooting to survive the first 450 so they can be there at the end to race for it like we were at Talladega."

COMMENT ON THE CARS "I think we're doing a good job of getting our cars balanced. We're figuring out what the new construction of tires need with this package, the spoiler package and things like that. I think everyone is getting to be a lot more fine-tuned. I think the first part of the year one or two guys would hit on what the combination needed to be as far as the setup on the car. They would just drive away from the whole field and make a boring race out of it. Now everyone is getting so much closer on their setups and figuring out what they need, I think we're getting where we can race more side by side because you know what the car needs to feel like and how to make the car drive well enough to race side by side at some of these big tracks."

COMMENT ON CAR OF TOMORROW (COT) "Going to the car of tomorrow, I think we're going back to yesterday. Now we've got a bigger car and it's harder to race side by side on these faster, aerodynamic tracks and it's going to be some boring races the first couple of races. Everybody will be in one train, and it'll be boring. I'm sure some way, some how, the teams will figure out a way to make those things drive better around each other and better racy. I'm not a fan of the COT car just because the little bit of testing I've done in Evernham's car, I mean, I call it the car of yesterday. It's taken a lot away from the ability to pass and race side by side."

COMMENT ON THE LOOKS OF THE COT "If you sit in the driver's seat you don't know what it looks like. As a driver you don't really care what it looks like. It could be pink with purple polka dots as long as you've got a sponsor and it's running fast and passing people you don't care. It does look old. It looks boxy like some of the legends in the sport used to race a long time ago. It's not the car of tomorrow. It looks like the car of yesterday with a car of tomorrow front splitter and 2020-looking rear wing on it. To me it's not what you think of as the latest-greatest downforce making machine that we race, like we do have. The cars we have now, there's so much art that goes into making the bodies and fabricating the bodies to make the downforce and keep the drag down. It's not only to make good cars for us but to be consistent about it. When you do find a car that works and stays really consistent on the racetrack and runs well, now you've got to go duplicate that. The fab shop will be able to craft another car. For our team three or four cars for three teams and all of them be so close you can't tell the difference in the wind tunnel or drivability, I think the car of tomorrow takes that out of it for sure. It's rear wings and spoiler on a box. It's not a pretty car. I don't like the way it drives because it takes the ability away to run side by side. A cot is a good word for it. It's the car of tomorrow, but when you say cot I think of something laying down on the side of the road to lay on and relax. Maybe that's what the fans will be doing when the car of tomorrow is racing."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup