Richmond II: Scott Riggs preview

Despite Not Being in The Chase, Riggs Still Has Plenty To Gain The Chase for the Nextel Cup has added a new dimension to NASCAR's elite division. With what is shaping up to be a 10-driver, 10-race shootout for the prestigious title, other...

Despite Not Being in The Chase, Riggs Still Has Plenty To Gain

The Chase for the Nextel Cup has added a new dimension to NASCAR's elite division. With what is shaping up to be a 10-driver, 10-race shootout for the prestigious title, other teams, such as the No. 10 Valvoline crew, are chasing something else -- improvement, consistency and momentum for next season.

Valvoline driver Scott Riggs acknowledges that while competing for the championship is the ultimate goal, there is still plenty to gain in the final 10 races of the season.

"Everyone wants to win the championship," explained Riggs. "If you didn't want to win the ultimate prize, you wouldn't be here. I don't think anyone goes into the season thinking they can't win the season title.

"But there comes a point when you except the fact that it isn't your year and you focus on making yourself better, so that the following season you can go back with the same confidence and expectations."

"We're on an upswing right now," continued Riggs, who finished seventh in last week's Pop Secret 500 at California Speedway. "This year has been tough, especially the first half of the season. We're finally starting to figure some things out -- how to be competitive and how to make the Valvoline Chevy better. I've learned how to communicate to my team what I'm feeling in the car and as a result they're making the right changes.

"We've become consistently competitive each week. We came into the season with a big learning curve -- a new team, new cars, a new manufacturer, a new driver -- but everyone has kept their chins up and stayed optimistic."

While the team's results don't accurately show the depth of that improvement, the Valvoline group has started to consistently perform better each week.

"Running up front and being able to go into an event knowing you can be competitive is what keeps you working hard, even if you don't see the results on paper," continued Riggs. "We won't be satisfied until we win. But being competitive each week makes us hungrier and that makes us a better team."

With 10 drivers feeling pressure in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, Riggs is ready to go into those last events to chase something he says is just as important-momentum for next year.

"Those of us who aren't in the Chase are really going to be able to take advantage of the situation," offered Riggs. "A lot of the teams in the top 10 are going to have to tiptoe around out there-stay out of trouble, don't get caught in someone else's mess.

"Then there are teams like us who can go out, be aggressive and drive as hard as we need to in order to improve and learn from that week."

"Don't get me wrong, we obviously wish we were one of those teams competing for the title," Riggs continued. "But since we're not, we're going to take advantage of these last ten races to try and get the pendulum swinging in our direction.

"While other teams chase the Nextel Cup title, we're going to chase that momentum so that next year we can focus on being there at the end of the season."

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Scott Riggs