Riggs, Team ASE Cruise To Fifth In Final 2001 NCTS Points Tally
MIAMI, FL (November 6, 2001) - In just his first full season on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour, Team ASE pilot Scott Riggs recorded five Bud Poles, five wins, 14 Top-5s and 16 Top-10 finishes en-route to a fifth-place overall finish in the final 2001 points standings.
"We had an awesome season," said Riggs. "We led the points race for a good portion of the year and even though things didn't go our way at the end of the season, everything about our year was championship caliber. The final standings will say we were fifth, but in my mind, we performed and acted like champions all year long."
Riggs' season got under way with a bang when the Bahama, NC driver qualified his Team ASE Dodge on the outside pole in just his first appearance on the high banks of Daytona. Riggs followed up the stellar qualifying run with a solid third-place finish in the season opener. Two weeks later the 30-year-old Ultra Motorsports pilot left little doubt he would be one to watch, when Riggs grabbed his first Bud Pole Award of the year at the Homestead Miami Speedway.
"That was pretty cool," commented Riggs. "We started out the season at Daytona on the outside pole and finished third. I was a little down on myself, because I really wanted to win. But, to came back and win the pole at Miami was awesome. The 'Ultra Bad Boys' worked hard all winter and to be able to win our first pole in just our second race together, well, it made us all feel pretty good."
Riggs followed up the pole-winning run with a fourth-place effort and continued to roll two weeks later at Bakersfield, CA where the North Carolina short track ace started and finished fifth.
Bigger things were to come in the month of April when the NCTS made its fourth stop of the season at the tricky .526-mile Martinsville Speedway. Again Riggs qualified his ASE Dodge on the outside of row one and, in front of the gathered Winston Cup community, scored his first career win in Ultra Motorsports owner Jim Smith's 150th NCTS start.
"That was the biggest win of my career," said Riggs. "Jim Smith and my crew chief Tim Kohuth took a big leap of faith when they signed me to drive the ASE Dodge. It was important for me to get that first win to relieve some of the pressure and to prove to those guys they made the right choice."
Following the Martinsville triumph, Riggs continued to prove to be a consistent threat to win every week by putting together a string of Top-5 finishes. A third-place finish in the NCTS inaugural stop at the famed Darlington Raceway followed up a runner-up effort at St. Louis. A week later Riggs garnered yet another second-place finish at Pikes Peak capped off by his second pole and win of the year at Dover Downs.
'That was just unbelievable," said Riggs who earned a $10,000 bonus from series' sponsor Craftsman Tools for winning the MBNA E-Commerce 200 from the top starting spot. "We won our second race of the year and did it from the pole. We've got our whole program headed in the right direction. Now we just need to keep the momentum rolling."
Unfortunately, Lady Luck turned her back on the two-time winner a week later at Texas. After starting the first of two Lone Star state shootouts from the point, Riggs was involved in a Lap 22 incident relegating the Team ASE pilot to a 26th-place finish halting his streak of Top-5s at eight.
Riggs bounced back at the Truck Series next stop at Memphis Motorsports Park with another solid runner-up finish. However, bad luck struck again the following week at Milwaukee after a broken right-front hub forced a 24th-place result.
Better things were on the horizon the following week when Riggs notched another Top-10 under the blazing sun at Kansas Speedway. The solid finish proved to be a momentum builder as Riggs snatched his third win of the season at the Kentucky Speedway.
"This was Team ASE's 150th start as a sponsor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and we were able to give them a win," commented Riggs following the Kentucky win. "What a great way to thank them for all their years of supporting Ultra Motorsports."
Unfortunately, bad luck reared its ugly head again at New Hampshire and Indianapolis Raceway Park. Mechanical gremlins bit the "Ultra Bad Boys" two weeks in a row forcing finishes of 24th and 21st right in the heart of the season, dropping Riggs to third in the championship battle following the IRP event.
As quickly as the run of misfortune floored Riggs and his crew, Team ASE righted all that was wrong by winning back-to-back events at the all-new Nashville Superspeedway and Chicago Motor Speedway, propelling Riggs back to the top of the NCTS championship chase.
"Man, that was just amazing," commented Riggs. "We dominated Nashville and outsmarted everybody at Chicago. Tim Kohuth has got this program firing on all eight cylinders. I'm just the guy lucky enough to be behind the wheel. We're going to Nazareth next and hopefully we'll keep this ship headed in the right direction."
Aerodynamic difficulties forced Riggs to struggle two weeks later at the Truck Series annual stop at Nazareth, relegating Riggs to finish 13th. Bad luck again struck Riggs and Team ASE when a flat right-front tire foiled a spirited run at the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway producing a 14th-place effort.
When the Truck Series hit the notorious South Boston (VA) Speedway for the NetZero 250, Riggs received a hero's welcome and didn't disappoint all his fans. Riggs turned in a third-place effort in the caution-ridden event at the tricky, 0.4-mile speedway. A week later, Riggs dominated the NCTS second stop at the ultra-fast Texas Motor Speedway, but again was foiled by a flat right-front tire while leading the race with only six laps remaining.
Two weeks later at Las Vegas, Riggs and Team ASE scored their 14th Top-5 of the season followed up by their 16th Top-10 of the year at Phoenix International Raceway.
In the season finale at California Speedway, Riggs started his ASE Dodge from the pole position but got caught up in an early race melee, forcing Riggs to finish 32nd in the 100 lap event at the suburban Los Angeles track.
In all, Riggs finished up the 2001 NCTS campaign with five poles, five wins, 14 Top-5s and 16 Top-10 finishes, producing a stellar 8.95 finishing average and $ 571,095 in earnings.
"I've had the time of my life with these guys this year. We've become like brothers and I'll remember this season for the rest of my life. I'd also like to thank Ron Weiner and everyone at ASE. They have been a great sponsor in the Truck Series ever since the division began in 1995. I was very fortunate to be a part of that tradition this season. We had a great year together. We won five poles and five races and that's nothing to sneeze at. No matter what the final points sheet says, this was a championship caliber season."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship Awards Banquet will officially close the book on the 2001 season Thursday, November 8. The event, which will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami, FL will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. with dinner and the awards ceremony to follow at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) also has a long involvement in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. As the primary sponsor on the No. 2 Team ASE entry, the non-profit organization has been able to highlight its efforts to provide the highest quality professional technician certification and assessment services at all levels of vehicle maintenance and repair. In addition to ASE's racing involvement, the organization is active in numerous civic, charitable, educational and humanitarian activities.