Daytona 500: Scott Riggs race report

Despite misfortunes, Riggs proud of team effort in Daytona 500. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2004) -- Scott Riggs fell victim to uncontrollable circumstances in the first half of the Daytona 500 Sunday, resulting in a 34th place finish for the...

Despite misfortunes, Riggs proud of team effort in Daytona 500.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2004) -- Scott Riggs fell victim to uncontrollable circumstances in the first half of the Daytona 500 Sunday, resulting in a 34th place finish for the Valvoline team.

Riggs' No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet showed promise at the beginning of the competition as it began to draft its way through the field at Daytona International Speedway.

"This is just where we want it boys," Riggs radioed to his crew early in the race. "I'm just a little tight, but it's not bad."

Unfortunately, things would not continue to work in the team's favor.

As Riggs rounded Turn 4 on lap 34 of the 200-lap race, Derrike Cope, who was on Riggs' outside, made a sharp left turn and steered into the right side of the Valvoline machine.

"I don't know what happened with the 50 (Cope's car)," said Riggs. "I don't know if he was trying to make it to pit road or his spotter didn't tell him I was there. Or if he lost a tire or what. He just body-slammed the side of us.

"That really hurt our effort because it seemed like everything was playing right into our hands at the beginning of the race. We set up the car for a warm, sunny day and it worked. The car was great. Then things started falling apart."

Riggs, one of six rookies competing in the Nextel Cup Series this season, pulled the race car down pit road where the team was forced to lose a lap while repairing damages.

Riggs returned to the racetrack and worked to get his lap back. Then, on lap 70, the No. 10 Chevrolet was collected in a 12-car pileup on the backstretch. Riggs returned to his pit stall where the team once again repaired damages.

On lap 111, Riggs informed the crew he had a flat tire and drove his way back to the pits. The team lifted the hood and found the nose of the car was pushed in and rubbing the right front tire. The machine was brought behind the wall for additional repairs.

Riggs returned to the track several times to no avail.

"We were aerodynamically finished," Riggs said. "There wasn't enough material left up front to stay stable and we just couldn't get going."

In a last attempt, the crew cut the sheet metal off the front of the car, an aerodynamic nightmare.

On his final return to the race, Riggs was unable to keep the minimum speed required to compete, forcing the team to retire on lap 138.

"Look at this," Riggs remarked as he watched the Valvoline team continue to make repairs after the car was officially out of the race. "These guys work so hard and they never give up. The way you know how good a team you have is to see how they handle adversity.

"All we can do is look forward to next week. We're ready to get to Rockingham and get some real racing done."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. claimed the victory by crossing the finish line .273 seconds in front of Tony Stewart.

-mbv-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Derrike Cope , Tony Stewart , Scott Riggs