Best finish of season puts No. 23 Dodge back into top-30 in Owner Points
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Scott Riggs utilized a good car, pit strategy and brush with the wall to garner a season-best finish of 13th for R3 Motorsports in the No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Society Dodge at Darlington Raceway on Friday night.
After posting the 25th-fastest lap during practice, Mother Nature washed out qualifying. This put forth the first implementation of the new rain out rule to determine the staring field.
The top-30 guaranteed teams are given their starting spots based off the top-30 fastest times in practice. Then, the go or go homers determine the rest of the starting line-up based of their practice times.
Since the No. 23 Dodge was the fastest of the non-guaranteed starters, Riggs lined up 31st for the 147-lap race under beautiful skies over the 1.33-mile, egg-shaped oval. Right from the start, the team had their hands full trying to figure out the “track too tough to tame.”
Riggs radioed to crew chief Walter Giles the car was a little free of Turn 2 and then became much freer in Turns 1 and 2 later in the run. By lap 19, the No. 23 Dodge was down a lap and looking for a caution.
That would occur when the pre-determined competition caution waved on lap 25 because qualifying was rained out. Giles called for four tires, fuel and adjustments to the chassis and air pressures. The team gained two positions on pit road putting them in the Lucky Dog position, waiting for the next caution
Restarting 27th on lap 31, Riggs was good to go passing cars higher than him on the scoring chart, but was trapped there a lap down. Their luck changed for the good on lap 45 when the caution waved.
Giles called for Riggs to pit for fuel, new tires and a major air pressure adjustment so the car would handle better in Turn 2. Back on the lead lap for the restart in 25th place, he would start to pick up positions running 25th by lap 65.
A long, green-flag run again put the No. 23 a lap down on the 71st circuit. But, a caution three laps later put the team back on the lead lap via the Lucky Dog. Pitting for tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments again, Riggs restarted 24th on lap 80 and was up to 21st by the next circuit.
By the lap 89 caution, Riggs was now 20th and looking to fix how the car’s nose handled through the turns. The fate of the race for the team took place when Giles and Riggs elected to stay out and not pit for tires or adjustments.
Restarting in fifth place on lap 94, Riggs had cars behind him on fresher tires and knew he would have his hands full on the next few circuits. However, right after the green flag waved, the caution followed for a multi-car pile-up behind him on the backstretch.
Electing to stay out again with plenty of fuel to go the distance, Riggs and Giles knew they had a competitive car. But, just like before, cars with newer tires behind them would their main concern.
On the lap 103 restart, Riggs was jostled in Turn 4 and brushed the outside wall falling to 16th place. With the surface damage to the right side occurring from the tire back, Riggs continued on in stout style. Matter of fact, he started to turn his fastest laps times of the night right afterwards.
Through the final 30 laps, Riggs would pick off positions and power his way to 13th place giving R3 Motorsports their best finish of the 2011 season. The good run also moved the team from 31st to 28th in the Owner’s Points, back into the top-30 guaranteed starter’s category.
Scott Riggs Quotes: “Man, that was a lot of fun out there tonight. It felt good to get back behind the wheel of a race car and I would like to thank everyone at R3 Motorsports for this opportunity. The car was great once we figured out how to keep the front from sliding, but we were really good at the end there when it mattered most.
“I wish we could have gotten a top-10, because we had a top-10 Dodge tonight at Darlington. Walter (Giles, crew chief) did a great job calling the stops and doing what we needed to get this good finish. I drove it as hard as I could and just adjusted my line a little bit here and there to get more out of the car. Good job by everyone on this team.”