Scott Riggs - ...
Scott Riggs - #10 Valvoline Chevrolet
Pole position winner
(First NASCAR NEXTEL Cup pole; has a win at Martinsville in Craftsman Truck Series in 2001)
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LAP
Well, it didn't feel very good as far as my lap. It felt a lot faster.we felt a lot faster than when we came out in practice than when we came out there in qualifying. My first lap, getting into the corner, getting into turn 1 and turn 3, brakes are cold, so you really don't have a good judge on where the bias in the brakes are. The pads act different when they're cold than from when they're hot. I see a lot of people getting loose into the corner and I just said, well, those guys are just driving in a little harder because it's qualifying and they're jumping on the brakes and getting loose. So, I drove out into the corner on the first lap and got really loose into 1, drove way up the race track and gathered it back up. Drove down the back stretch and did the same thing getting into 3, got loose getting into 3, gathered it back and drove down the race track and I said, there's one lap gone, we've got one more lap to try to get this thing. I drove down the corner and tried to be really smooth with the brake pedal and roll around the bottom both corners and my crew chief came over the radio and told me that my first lap was the quickest and right now it's on the pole. I guess you can be out of control and still run a pretty fast lap here. It's really surprising that you can be..all my Dad kept preaching to me before qualifying was, just be smooth, be smooth, don't slip the car, be smooth, don't be too aggressive, be smooth with it and you'll be good. You know, we ended up sitting on the pole with probably the ugliest lap I've ever had out there in qualifying.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR FIRST TRUCK RACE WIN HERE?
Yes, sir. First truck was here at the track. I know we had a pretty good truck that day but didn't have the truck to beat. We stayed out on two tires and didn't pit and held onto the track position and won the race. That was probably one of the most memorable wins because.not just because it was one of my first wins.but also because all my family and friends that were here because I'm only an hour and a half away from home. There was a lot of people here. That's the only picture I have here from victory lane; I've got my mom and my mother-in-law and my dad and my grandparents and everyone is in victory lane. That was pretty cool.
DID YOU CREW CHIEF COME ON AND TELL YOU THAT YOU HAD THE POLE DURING YOUR SECOND LAP?
You know, my crew chief didn't say anything between laps. He made that mistake one time earlier this season-I think it was California. He spoke up and said something and didn't think we were going to take a second lap. We took a second lap and it was quicker, so he knew that here you can't hear very well at Martinsville and he knew we were going to run all the laps we could. He didn't say anything. I was just surprised when he said the first one was quick.
ARE YOU MORE EXCITED OR IS TARA (RIGGS'S PR REP) MORE EXCITED?
I think Tara is more excited. This is the first time she's got a chance to sit on the pole. Hopefully we can get her her first win. She's been around a while and hasn't had a chance to be in victory lane, so hopefully we'll carry her to victory lane some time.
DOES IT MEAN MORE TO WIN A POLE HERE AT MARTINSVILLE BECAUSE THIS IS A REAL DRIVERS TRACK?
You know, it feels good to win a pole anywhere, of course, especially our first pole for our team this year and last two years. I think that here, winning a pole means a lot because everyone knows you've got a good car, you know you can go fast off the bat. You know you're not going to have to worry about if your car is going to come in, how well we're going to run on a long run. This is something we'll work on all day tomorrow. But I think that sitting on the pole here does take everyone. Good communication from the team, a good car, but the driver has to have their head screwed on pretty straight to know what he's doing too. I don't think you can get any better track position. Any place you'd want good track position would be here, so I feel pretty good about it.
This isn't an impound race, thank goodness. If this was an impound race we'd still have a car that was worthy of sitting on the pole, because we're not that far from what our race setup is going to be. At Martinsville, I don't think your race setup and qualifying is that different, versus other places where it could be heads and tails different. Springs, shocks, things like that aren't that different here. It makes me feel good that we've got a good car. I hope it's going to be fast on a long run, too.
WITH YOUR SUCCESS, ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE CALLING YOU?
I don't know if I have more people coming out of the woodwork to be a fair-weather fan, but I sure do.I don't hear as many of those skeptics that used to come out and didn't know if we had it, didn't know if the team was going to be able to do it, didn't know who I was, maybe I needed to go back to the Busch Series or something like that. So, we're slowly but surely putting their face further and further into the mud. It feels good. Last year was the most horrible year I've ever had in my racing career. And to go through that kind of year and to have to swallow that down is having to swallow the biggest lump of pride you've ever had in yourself. To get that behind me, to build on that, come in this year with a better car, better team, a lot of the same guys from last year, a couple of new guys that really are close to my heart. Guys I raced with like Randy.they've really come on board and just turned the team around. We're unloading better. Our cars are setup better. We're learning more. And I'm driving not as hard as we did last year. It doesn't mean I'm laying down behind the wheel. It means I'm not overdriving the car trying to make up for something that's not there. Now I can go out there, drive the car to 100%, tell them what's wrong, what needs to be better, fix it and go a little bit faster. So, racing's fun again, I'm back to doing the same things I used to do my whole life, my whole career to get me to this point. And that's just getting in the car, letting me know what the seat tells me and relaying that back to the team.
YOU STARTED OFF REALLY WELL AND BACKED IT UP. HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT?
It's good to keep that kind of positive momentum rolling behind the team. We had two of our best race cars at California and Vegas and we finished 31st and 32nd and that was so disheartening to me. But to go in the shop and see the guys and see how pumped they were, driving from where we qualified or starting from the rear and coming from behind and had great race cars.those guys weren't down a bit. If anything they were more up about how our cars were running, not how we finished. Those are things that keep the driver positive, keep the morale of the team up and that keeps us coming back next weekend with the confidence in each other to go back and be competitive the following week. Of all the races this year where we were the worst, it was probably last week. And last week we didn't have the car we needed. We made some changes on the car in practice and it really hurt the car. The car was tight in the race. I made a joke to someone that we were so slow during the race we couldn't get in a wreck. And that ended up paying off for us and we finished 10th. And if we can have a bad day and finish 10th, that's what it's all about being in this Chase and being a top 10 contender every week. We're not going to sit out and set our goals and say we're the man to beat and all that. But we're going to keep digging every single week and I think we'll continually impress other people with our consistency. I think we continue to help our own confidence of our own team with how consistent and competitive we can be week in and week. Like I said, right now everybody is smiling so nothing is going to stop us.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RECENT PENALTIES FOR IMPROPER BEHAVIOR?
There are all kind of frustrations and stress levels that get out of hand on the race track. I've always tried to be respectful of the driver.other drivers. I always try to race them the same way that I want to be raced. That's something that goes along with that learning curve last year, trying not only to learn how to drive these long races, how your car needs to feel, but also you've got to learn every single one of your competitors and what kind of personality they have behind the wheel. Not what kind of personality comes across in interviews. You need to know what kind of personality they have when they put the helmet on when they're behind the wheel. You learn those guys and you learn how to race each guy as an individual a little bit different. Some guys are going to push you to every little limit. Some guys are going to give you plenty of room and know when it's time to race. I try to race everybody back the same way they race me. You know, I had a few fingers thrown at me last year. I always try to be man enough to go up to them the following week and tell them that whatever I did I apologize for it. I think that I've been able to earn a lot of respect from a lot of veteran drivers. And that's probably because I'm a little bit older than a lot of the other rookies out there these days. I've been around a little longer. I've been watching these guys a little longer. Maybe I have a little more respect for them. I'm just glad I have that and I'm receiving it back a little bit on the race track.
HOW IS YOUR TEAM RUNNING? HOW IS THE FEELING?
Every weekend we go in there feeling we can win the race. That's something we never had last year. Never! And every single race we go to this year, we feel that we've got.we've got a top 10 car, okay, we're going to finish in the top 10. And then if we've got a top 5 car, we say okay, we're going to try to finish in the top 5. And if you finish in the top 5 and you're consistently up front, you're contending for these front-running positions. Sooner or later those front-running positions are going to be "the" front running position and win the race. It would make no happier.nothing else in this world would make me happier than trying to win a race and to be there to take a checkered flag at a Cup event. I don't think, myself or my team, would be surprised. We'd be very excited and very up, you'd probably see some smiles you couldn't wipe off with Ajax, but I don't think we would say, 'Man I can't believe that as bad as we suck, I can't believe we won!' That's just not going to happen. We just have that much confidence going into this year.
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO ASK WHERE YOU'RE FROM?
I have to say Bahama and I have to tell them to repeat it to me so they know how to say it.
WHAT IS YOUR GAME PLAN STARTING AT THE POLE?
When you qualify in the top 10 to 12, you're thinking about getting your car good for a long run, make sure it's not going to be too tight, still cutting in the center, it's really racey, not so loose that you can't be aggressive and race people with it. You bide your time because it's going to be a long race, a lot of laps, and you just want to be there at the end. Now, if you qualify outside that top 15, then your game plan sort of changes and you start thinking about pit strategy, 'Okay, we're at the back half of this field, we need track position, we need to get up front.' So then you start thinking about if a caution comes out early, say lap 30 or 40, we're going to pit, because the leaders are going to stay out. Then when another caution comes out, 30 or 40 laps later, the leaders pit and then we're up front. You start thinking about strategies that way. But as far as how we go into tomorrow's practice, it's the same. We just go out there and try to make our car really comfortable and to be fast and raceable and be really racey for me.