Riggs Preseason Thunder - Dodge interview

SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger) WHAT SCARES YOU ABOUT THE 2007 SEASON? "No, Toyota doesn't scare me, and the Car of Tomorrow doesn't scare me. I'm not looking forward to the Car of Tomorrow just because of the ...

SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger)

WHAT SCARES YOU ABOUT THE 2007 SEASON? "No, Toyota doesn't scare me, and the Car of Tomorrow doesn't scare me. I'm not looking forward to the Car of Tomorrow just because of the difference, but I think our engineers are probably working as hard or harder than any team out there to figure it out what the COT is going to want to go fast. Nothing really scares us. The good thing about this team is having everybody back. I just don't want us to get in the same worried, tense, lack of confidence kind of mode like we were last year. No matter how we start out I want us to keep that confidence and that positive attitude everybody's got right now. Everybody is relaxed and smiling and having a good time and I want us to keep that through the whole year. I think if we can keep that through the first four or five races and we run good then that will be a big snowball and we'll gain momentum the rest of the year."

ARE YOU GOING TO BE THE FIRST DRIVER TO GO FROM NOT QUALIFYING FOR THE DAYTONA 500 TO WINNING IT? "I don't know. That would be big. I wish I had a little more confidence about winning Daytona, but we were so bad here in July it sort of took the wind out of our sails. We've got a lot of room to improve from July last year. Just to come out and run well and run strong is what we want instead of being weak like we were here last time. Not qualifying for the Daytona 500 last year really didn't set us back. We never really forgot about it, but it didn't set us back. If anything it pushed us forward. It made us strive any harder to focus on the job at hand. We weren't thinking down the road. We were just thinking one race at a time. Once you miss one you realize you can't take anything for granted. We weren't lazy about it. We knew it could happen. We just never thought it would happen. It made us buckle down and focus more and I think it made our team pull together harder. I felt like it made us all feel like we had something to prove together."

SO TEAM CHEMISTRY IS ALL OR MORE THAN IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE? "Look at Florida last night. I don't think the Gators had played like that as a team all season. It just goes to show what can happen when everyone is clicking on all cylinders. I think that's what they're going to say about our team. They'll say Scott Riggs has been in the sport three years and has had a couple of hot flashes but just never was able to put it all together. They'll say "Where did they come from? How did that happen?" I think that's the kind of break out year we're going to have. It's not just wishful thinking. Everybody believes it, not just in their minds but in their hearts, too."

WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN TO ACHIEVE THAT BREAK OUT SEASON? "We've got to have a little luck, but we've just got to be more consistent and a little smarter about our decision making and we've got to not try too hard. I think me trying too hard behind the wheel affected a lot of how Rodney (Team Director Childers) and those guys tried too hard to fix problems. We've got to all just do our jobs 100 percent, and I've got to concentrate and not overdrive the racecar."

YOU HAD SOME TOP 10S LAST YEAR AND YOU STILL WEREN'T HAPPY. WHY? "We weren't consistent enough. If we were consistently in the top 10 I think I'd be OK. It seemed like when we had a top 10 we had a top five car. Then we'd have a top 10 car and finish 15th. We never could finish where we should have. There was always something that took spots away or cost us positions. We can't do that. If we've got a fifth-place car we've got to finish fifth. If we've got a 10th-place car we've got to finish 10th. We've just got to finish where our car is capable of finishing."

THIS WILL BE YOUR FOURTH FULL SEASON IN CUP. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE MADE PROGRESS? "Yes, I feel like this will be my best chance to run well. I feel like I'm at the top of my game. I feel like I've become a lot sharper the past year as a driver just because I was able to focus more on my job and not worry about what the team was lacking. Last year I started focusing more on what I needed to do as a driver and that made me pay more attention to how much I was overdriving the car. I think I'll be able to keep that same mental picture in my head of what we need to do and continue that through the whole year."

YOU HAD CARS AT SOME TRACKS LAST YEAR THAT WERE BETTER THAN THE RACE WINNER "Yes, and that's the kind of things that were so frustrating. We knew we had a car that could win the race or run at the front and we didn't do it. It's good and positive on the confidence side because you know you've got the cars and all the pieces and equipment to win races. Kasey and his guys proved it. At the same time it was frustrating that we didn't do it when we knew we could."

CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR DRIVING STYLE? "I feel like I was very cautious before. I gave a lot of respect and maybe got taken advantage of a lot on the racetrack. Now I feel that I know where my limitations are. I know who I owe and who owes me and that kind of stuff. I know how they're going to race me and how I should race them back. I guess I'd say I have a cautiously aggressive style. I feel like I stay up on the wheel and never give up no matter what. A lot of times getting on the wheel when the car wasn't where it needed to be would be when I'd overdrive the car. That kept me from giving good feedback about what the car was doing and what it needed. That made it hard for them to make the right decisions on how to fix it. I'm going to still have that aggressive edge and still stay on top of the wheel, but at the same time I'm going to be more aware of what it takes to make the car better."

CAN YOU MAKE THE CHASE? "We feel like we can. We finished 20th in the points last year and missed a race. We feel like we were on a climb there to get to 15th and then in three races straight we had problems. I feel like we were capable of being in the top 15 in points, and if we could do that and miss a race and struggle the way we struggled at the beginning of the season last year, I think this year we should have our sights set on the top 10 and at worst the top 15. I think winning races and circumstances will determine how it all platys out."

WILL IT BE IMPORTANT TO START STRONG? "I think it's important just to be consistent -- start strong and stay strong. Last year it didn't matter really. It hurt that we missed the first race, but it didn't hurt our motivation. It didn't hurt our drive or momentum of what we'd been building in the off season as a brand new team. With the momentum and drive and determination we have now, I'm thinking about what it's going to be like 10 races down the road. I think we're going to be in great shape."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series NASCAR Cup