BROWNSBURG, Ind. — The scene that was Layne Riggs climbing out of his No. 62 Toyota Tundra on Friday night was one typically reserved for Victory Lane. All of the energetic hugs and fist bumps were accompanied by permanent smiles.
This was not Victory Lane, of course. This was the back end of pit road at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. Amongst a line of top-10 finishing trucks and drivers, one could easily tell who finished seventh in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut.
The son of former NASCAR driver Scott Riggs, Layne Riggs turned the TSport 200 into a race he‘ll never forget. The 20-year-old from Bahama, North Carolina, also brought himself to an encouraging realization.
This is where he belongs.
“It was funny coming to the green-white-checkered restart,” Riggs said. “We lined up fifth, and I was looking around like, ‘Well there‘s Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, all these guys I watch on TV every week, and I‘m right in the middle of them.‘
“It was awesome to be a part of it, but at the same time, I didn‘t feel any pressure. I didn‘t feel nervous behind the wheel. Everything felt natural to me. I feel like I‘m confident enough as a driver to be there.”
A full-time late model stock car driver, Riggs leads the NASCAR Advance Auto Part Weekly series national points standings with 27 starts this year at Dominion Raceway, Hickory Motor Speedway, South Boston Speedway and Wake County Speedway. He has 13 wins in 2022, easily the most among national championship contenders.
It was after a win at Hickory a few months ago when Riggs received the offer to go Truck Series racing with Halmar Friesen Racing.
Riggs‘ ultimate goal is to race full-time in a NASCAR national touring series. But for now, his primary focus remains his Weekly Series racing. That‘s why Friday night‘s Truck Series race was only the beginning of Riggs‘ exhausting weekend.
Riggs didn‘t get much time to celebrate at Lucas Oil IRP. He needed to get to the airport and fly overnight to Statesville, North Carolina, so he could drive to Dominion for a pair of late model features and two chances to collect more Weekly Series points.
The flight from Indianapolis arrived in Statesville around 2:30 a.m ET. Riggs then took a car to his house for a quick snooze from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., when he had to get up and travel to Dominion to make it to the track by 11:30 a.m.
That night, he qualified on the pole and won the first late model feature race.
“I was all good Saturday with adrenaline keeping me awake,” said Riggs, who finished fourth in the second feature race due in part to worn tires from the first event. “But right after the second race was over, I was out.”
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At Dominion, Riggs was taken aback by the reception his racing peers delivered. On-track rivals were among those congratulating the young driver on his top-10 finish in his Truck Series debut.
They all knew how impressive Riggs‘ run truly was.
Riggs at Lucas Oil IRP conquered what seemed like an endless stream of challenges. This was his first time racing a truck and his first laps on the Indiana short track, so a short practice run led to an overcorrection in his setup for qualifying, and he wheeled a loose truck to a 26th-place effort in time trials.
Riggs‘ first pit stop in the race was a disaster. He slid through his pit stall. His front tire changer‘s air gun wouldn‘t work. The fuel can wouldn‘t engage with the truck‘s nozzle. He went a lap down as a result and didn‘t get back to the lead lap until the end of Stage 2.
Despite the chaos, Riggs‘ numbers from the race tell a story of resilience. He made 62 green-flag passes, the second most in the field behind Zane Smith‘s 67. On two occasions, he recorded the fastest lap in the field. Of 36 drivers, he ranked 14th in driver rating with a 76.5.
A late caution and a wise strategy call not to pit combined to put Riggs in such a strong position for the final restart of the race. He battled old tires and an aggressive pack of drivers to finish seventh.
“To come from the tail end all the way back to finish seventh in the end, making a good call to stay out, it was a good day,” Riggs said. “Everybody from home and people in the racing industry giving me support. I couldn‘t ask for more in my debut.”
Riggs will get at least one more chance to run with the Truck Series in 2022; he’ll again race for Halmar Friesen in a couple weeks when the series returns to action at Richmond Raceway for the Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation (Aug. 13, 8 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM).
Based on how Riggs performed at Lucas Oil IRP, one can visualize another strong performance from him at Richmond.
Regardless, he’ll always have the memory of his top-10 finish in his NASCAR national series debut, plus the subsequent reception and victory at Dominion.