This Week in Ford Racing September 17, 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Scott Riggs, driver of the No. 10 Taurus, led the NASCAR Busch Series point standings for five consecutive weeks heading into the event at Richmond, but an early-race incident...
This Week in Ford Racing
September 17, 2003
NASCAR Busch Series
Scott Riggs, driver of the No. 10 Taurus, led the NASCAR Busch Series point standings for five consecutive weeks heading into the event at Richmond, but an early-race incident and a subsequent 29th-place finish dropped Riggs to third place, 65 points out of the lead. Heading to into this weekend Stacker 200 at Dover International Speedway, Riggs spoke about on-track aggression and his progression through the NASCAR ranks.
SCOTT RIGGS -10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus:
YOU ARE IN THE MIDST OF YOUR SECOND SEASON COMPETING IN THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES, BUT YOUR NAME HAS BEEN MENTIONED IN THE RUMOR MILL FOR A NUMBER OF WINSTON CUP RIDES. WITH DRIVERS BEING ABLE TO COMPETE WELL INTO THEIR 40'S, DOES THAT MAKE IT TOUGHER FOR A YOUNGER DRIVER TO FIND A COMPETITIVE RIDE IN THE WINSTON CUP SERIES?
"The guys that are veterans, they've been in the sport for so long and they've proved themselves and won some races, and that's allowed them step into some good rides. I think what really makes it a premier ride is the fact that you have a veteran driver, and when you have a veteran driver that has a history of winning and doing well and they're with a good organization, that draws other people to want to be on the team as far as guys on the crew and guys in the shop. Having a veteran in the seat helps recruiting and success breeds success. It helps bring and lure better people to the team and makes the team even stronger. But that's what racing and sports in general are all about, putting the best people together. I don't know if I'd say that it makes it harder for young guys to move up in the sport, but those guys that stay in the sport into their 40's have paid their dues and that's why they're where they're at and that's why they have good teams and good organizations behind them."
WHEN IT COMES TIME TO MAKE THE DECISION TO MOVE TO WINSTON CUP, WHAT CRITERIA WILL YOU USE TO CHOSE WERE YOU GO?
"It's absolutely the hardest decision that I've ever had to make. The thing about Winston Cup racing is the top 15 or 20 in points, which in anybody's eyes are the competitive teams right now, those teams are not going to have a seat available for some time because there is no step above Winston Cup. There is no great team that a driver can join and move up to the next level because there is no place higher for a Cup guy to go. Teams that are looking for drivers are usually 20th in points or back, and those teams are hard to figure out as far as which ones are capable of being a competitive team and which team is going to be the most competitive. Right now I'm trying to go through and sort out some of the offers that I have to go Winston Cup racing and which team is going to be the most competitive, and that's going to be my deciding point. There have been offers to go Winston Cup racing for a couple of years for me and I felt like none of them have been competitive teams. I felt that all of them were somewhere to go drive and pick up a bigger paycheck and that's not what I want to do. Anyone who goes Winston Cup racing just to make more money is not going to have a long career in racing. The money is short-lived. I want to go to be competitive and I feel if I can go to a team and be competitive and prove myself and prove what I'm capable of then there's a better chance for the longevity of my career. I think a lot of people move too quick for the money. I think that a lot of it is a timing issue as far as finding a team that is competitive at the same time that you're ready to move up and have that seat open to you. Every year is going to be different, with people looking for drivers and different drivers wanting to move up every year, so it's all about finding the right opportunity at the right time."
IS THERE STILL A CHANCE THAT YOU WILL COMPETE FULL TIME IN THE BUSCH SERIES NEXT YEAR?
"It's still a possibility, but I've got some great opportunities in front of me and right now, and at this point, it looks like my best opportunity would be to go Cup, but that's not a done deal."
WITH THE TROUBLES THAT YOU HAD IN RICHMOND TWO WEEKS AGO, WAS THE OFF WEEKEND A WELCOMED SIGHT?
"It was a good time for a weekend off for us. Considering how we've struggled the last couple of weeks, we needed some time to reflect. We've had some good finishes still but it's been a struggle. We had some time off last week to reflect on what happened in Richmond and cool off a little bit. At the same time, we had an opportunity to do some testing, so we had a chance to take our time and make changes and figure out how the changes worked on the car. We did some thorough testing and I think that's something we've been lacking the chance to do. We sort of saved our tests for the end of the year, and with this last week being off we had the opportunity to do that testing. It gets tough when you only have two hours to figure out what your race car needs and to be competitive and try to win the race. It's really tough when the guys that you are racing against are getting laps and time on the track on the Cup side and figuring out what the attitude of the race track is for the weekend, what kind of trends are working on the Cup car and what's going to more than likely help the Busch car as well. I think having the weekend off was definitely good for us and to be back in the seat to do some thorough testing. That was the best thing about having the weekend off."
THERE WAS A LOT OF CONTACT BETWEEN LEAD-LAP CARS AT RICHMOND IN ALL THREE SERIES. IS THAT BECOMING A TREND IN NASCAR RACING?
"It's surprising to see people that have a good enough race car to win the race to do things that could jeopardize them even finishing the race. That to me doesn't make any sense. That is just impatience. Now the contact between the two leaders that were racing for the lead for the last 10 laps, I think that's to be expected any time you race on a short track and you have two guys that have pretty equal cars. When it gets down to the last 20 or 30 laps, I think that's the time to step up and be as aggressive as you can to get out front and hold them off. I think that's acceptable, but the situation that I was in was unacceptable because it was too early in the race and it was just impatience."
DO MONETARY FINES AND PROBATION WORK TO DETRACT ON-TRACK AGGRESSION?
"I think that gets the message across that NASCAR doesn't like the actions and it's not what they want to see on their race tracks. But, as far as problems between driver to driver, I think that NASCAR lets the drivers know and the team know where they stand on who was right and who was wrong, but getting it straightened out is usually in the drivers' hands."