BUSCH: Richmond II: Riggs, Keller interview

NASCAR Busch Series points leader Scott Riggs and fourth-place Jason Keller took part in a Q&A session in the Richmond International Raceway media center this afternoon along with the other top-five drivers to discuss the 2003 season to-date and...

NASCAR Busch Series points leader Scott Riggs and fourth-place Jason Keller took part in a Q&A session in the Richmond International Raceway media center this afternoon along with the other top-five drivers to discuss the 2003 season to-date and the evolving points race. Riggs leads second-place David Green by 19 points and has recorded two wins this season, while Keller trails his ppc Racing teammate by 70 points with nine races remaining.

SCOTT RIGGS-10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE IN THIS KIND OF POINTS RACE THIS LATE IN THE SEASON WHERE ANYTHING ON THE RACE TRACK CAN MEAN BIG THINGS IN THE BIG PICTURE?

"The way I look at it, instead of having one or two people that are really close in the points race - most of the time it's just two people that you're really looking at really close fighting for the lead that are trying to be careful and race each other hard. This is five people that are pretty much virtually tied for the points lead. I think everybody is trying to not focus on each other, we're doing what we need to do and that's focus on our own cars and our own race. As far as our standpoint, we're just taking one race at a time trying to get the best finish out of every race. I feel like we've been struggling here the last couple of weeks. I feel like we're getting our thing back on track and getting our program back together and our communication a little stronger. I'm just going to give it 100 percent and try not to look over our shoulder too much or look at how tight the points race is, and I think it will all fall out in the end."

JASON KELLER-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE IN THIS KIND OF POINTS RACE THIS LATE IN THE SEASON WHERE ANYTHING ON THE RACE TRACK CAN MEAN BIG THINGS IN THE BIG PICTURE?

"For me it's totally different from last year. I battled Biffle head to head pretty much for the championship. I could focus on one competitor of what I needed to do, but for this, it's really taking the focus off of just one driver. I just try to do the very best I possibly can with the car, and my own car, and really not worry about the competitors because somebody in this group is going to run good each week. Take last week for instance. Brian (Vickers) had a great week and jumped from fifth to third because the other four of us up here didn't have a great week. I can't focus on any of the four. It's made it a little bit easy for me in my mindset that I'm not racing somebody head to head. I know if I get my race car the very best I can possibly get, that's all I can worry about. Last year I had Biffle to worry about and I raced him head to head through the year. It's just a different mindset for me. I'm just glad to be a part of it. It's such an honor to be part of it and hopefully it all works out."

IF THE CHAMPIONSHIP COMES DOWN TO THE LAST YEAR OF THE YEAR AT HOMESTEAD AND IT'S BETWEEN YOU AND SCOTT RIGGS, WILL YOU RACE HIM ANY DIFFERENT?

"To be honest with you, I'll try my best to beat him. I don't foresee racing Scott any different at that point than I race anybody. There's so many scenarios that can play out in this deal. David (Green) hit the nail on the head. I think you're looking at the '03 champion if you're looking up here. I think the champion is going to come from this group, but I don't think you can win it right now, but I think you can lose it right now. I was in that situation last year going into the late race and we lost our opportunity to win. With about five races to go we never could get it back. If Scott and I have to go head to head at the race in Homestead, I hope that's the scenario that it comes to, and we'll battle it out and settle it among ourselves. Whatever that scenario is, I just hope I'm a part of it and that I'm a big part of it."

IF THE CHAMPIONSHIP COMES DOWN TO THE LAST YEAR OF THE YEAR AT HOMESTEAD AND IT'S BETWEEN YOU AND JASON KELLER, WILL YOU RACE HIM ANY DIFFERENT?

"I don't think that we'll race any different or drive any different because we're teammates. I think the way we race each other now is pretty hard but pretty clean, but I think all of us sitting here do that with each other no matter what. If me and Jason could battle it out for the championship down to the wire and finish one-two in the championship - none of us want to finish second - but mine and Jason's situation, if one of us finishes second to the other, I think that's the best we could ever expect of our race team. Me and Jason, I know we're the only two sitting here that share information as close as we do and try to help each other as much as we do. I think coming down to the last race, I think we're all going to be fighting as hard as we can to go out in a blaze of glory and try to win this championship. I don't think being teammates is going to make us do anything different. I will probably bump David on the last lap to be able to win the championship, just like I'd probably bump any of these guys, just like we'd bump each other. When it comes down to the last lap and you have a little better car and somebody is holding you up, you'll probably go a little bit harder. You don't want to hurt anybody or spin anybody out, but you're going to try to beat him to that checkered flag for the championship for sure."

KELLER

DO YOU EXPECT THE COMPETITORS TO GIVE YOU MORE SLACK WITH THE STATE OF THE POINTS RACE?

"I haven't noticed anybody giving us anything. If they have, you may ask these guys. Everybody is racing as hard as they can. Even if you're not one of these guys up here, there are guys racing to finish in the top 10 in points. There are guys racing for sponsors like we are. There are so many smaller battles in the series that I haven't noticed anybody giving us any slack, definitely not lately."

RIGGS

IF THE POINTS RACE STAYS THIS CLOSE AS THE SEASON WINDS DOWN, WHEN DO THE RULES CHANGE?

"I don't think that the rules are going to change, but I don't think any of us sitting here expect just because the points situation is tight that we're going to start roughing each other up any more. We're getting roughed up enough by the lapped cars every single week. I think that if any one of us that sat up here and tried to rough one of these other guys up to make a position to try to gain points on somebody, I think they would lose respect. I think sitting here listening to all of talk about all these questions you guys are asking, all of you realize how much respect all of us have for each other. It's not because we want to see the other one beat us, but it's all because we all race each other hard and we're all here to try to the same objective - to try to win the championship, to try to do the best we can this week, to try to win the race this week and go to the race next week and focus on every race one race at a time. I think it would be surprising to see anyone here start being disrespectful to each other because of the points situation."

RIGGS

WHAT IS YOUR SITUATION FOR NEXT YEAR?

"For ppc, right now we're hard at work working on a lot of different sponsors. Luckily, the floodgates have opened and we've been one of the fortunate teams in the Busch series to have several primary sponsors or partial sponsors come forth in the last couple of weeks wanting to feel us out and see how they can be part of our of organization. I think right now, our goal is to try to secure sponsorship for everyone at ppc. I know the rumors fly all the time about different seats opening up, different places and who's going where. I wish that I could say, 'I know where I'm going but I can't tell you yet,' because I really don't have any idea what's happening. We're going to sit down once we figure out what kind of sponsorships we have for the 10 and the 57 next year. I'm sure Jason like myself will sit down with Greg Pollex and everybody at ppc and explore what kind of options we have there and try to explore other options anywhere else and try to figure out what's the best opportunity for us and our team."

HOW LATE IN THE YEAR CAN YOU LET THAT GO?

"I think it gets to a point where people start wearing on you so hard to figure out where you're going that for a while I've just been pushing everything off and concentrating on what I need to concentrate on. I feel like with this next weekend coming off here, I'm going to try to pinpoint and figure out what diction I need to go and make that decision and put that behind me and go on to the next race. Right now I feel that I'm a 110-percent focused on the (No.) 10 and the Busch Series, and every since single week I take each race one race at as time and I'm focused on that race and I don't let my mind wonder about anything in the future. I feel like I race every single race like it's my last race and I need to do the best job I can, and I feel like everything will take care of itself. I think it does come a time where I have to make a decision and figure out what I'm going to do just so I can put it behind and nobody has to ask and wonder what's going to happen."

KELLER

WHAT IS YOUR SITUATION FOR NEXT YEAR?

"I think Scott's definitely right, we've got a lot of good things that have opened up at ppc. Nothing has been finalized, but I think the month of September is going to be crucial; that's my mindset. I think if it goes much beyond that, you're out of the timeline that I think is necessary. I know that's a pretty vague answer as much as the month of September, but I just think that if you go into October and November, the sponsors are already going to be settled and the drivers in the seats will be settled as well. I think the month of September is kinda my personal timeline at what I'm looking at to get everything set. We didn't sign Albertsons until the first week of October, so it can happen. It's not a do-or-die date, and we've had them for three years. You don't want to do that but it can happen."

RIGGS

IF QUALIFYING GETS RAINED OUT TODAY, HOW WILL THAT AFFECT THE RACE TOMORROW?

"I don't think it's a bad deal for anyone close to the front in points for a rainout. I think all of us want a shot, no matter where you are in points, you still want a shot at the pole."

KELLER

THE POINTS RACE IN WINSTON CUP AND THE BUSCH SERIES IS A STORY OF CONTRASTS. DOES THE POINTS SYSTEM NEED TO BE REEVALUATED?

"There have been so many good points battle with the way it is. Just because you have one driver and one team in the Winston Cup Series that has their act together, and if you look at it, they're the only driver-team to have the consistency in all of NASCAR, Winston Cup or Busch. You look and the second-place points guy in Winston Cup has about the same amount of points as we do. He would be comparable to our season as far as finishes. Just because one guy has his act together and one team that doesn't mean that you need to change everything. There have been great points battles all throughout the years. This is the best points battle in history in the Busch Series. We've never had a points battle that's only rewarded wins; it's always been on consistency. That's the way all of us have grown up, that's the way all of us have learned, so for them to say we need to change it to highly reward wins, that would change the whole realm of what we've grown up and how we've learned to race."

RIGGS

THE POINTS RACE IN WINSTON CUP AND THE BUSCH SERIES IS A STORY OF CONTRASTS. DOES THE NASCAR POINTS SYSTEM NEED TO BE REEVALUATED?

"I don't see how there can be an argument. You see both sides of the coin. You see one team that has been great and successful at being competitive every single week and being consistent, and he's got a good points margin. Then you see the exact same points system making for a very tight points battle in the Busch Series. I don't see how anyone could think that just changing the way the points system is is going to change the way the points race goes. In 2000, ppc and the No. 10 team won the championship by 600-some points. Nobody jumped up and wanted to change the Busch Series points because of that. It's the same points system you have today and you have five guys virtually tied for the lead. I don't see how the points system can change the way the competition races each other or how close the points system is."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers David Green , Scott Riggs