BROWNSBURG, Ind. — The scene that was Lane Riggs climbing out of the No. 62 Toyota Tundra on Friday night was one usually reserved for Victory Lane. All energetic hugs and fist bumps were accompanied by permanent smiles.
This wasn’t Victory Lane, of course. This was the back end of pit road at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. Among a line-up of top-10 trucks and drivers, one could easily say who finished seventh in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut.
The son of former NASCAR driver Scott Riggs, Layne Riggs made the TSport 200 a race he’ll never forget. The 20-year-old from Bahamas, North Carolina also brought himself to an encouraging realization.
This is where it belongs.
“It was funny to come to the restart in the green and white checkered,” Riggs said. “We were fifth in the series, and I was looking around like, ‘Well, there’s Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, all these guys that I see on TV every week, and I’m right in the middle of them.’ .
“It was awesome to be a part of, but at the same time, I didn’t feel any pressure. I didn’t feel nervous behind the wheel. Everything seemed natural to me. I feel like I’m confident enough as a driver to be there.”
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A full-time late model 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 that Riggs received the offer to go Truck Series racing with Halmar Friesen Racing.
Riggs’ ultimate goal is to race full-time in a national NASCAR touring series. But for now, his main focus remains the Weekly Series race. That’s why Friday night’s Truck Series race was just the beginning of Riggs’ grueling weekend.
Riggs didn’t have much time to celebrate at the 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 rack up more Weekly Series points.
The flight from Indianapolis arrived in Statesville around 2:30 am. ET. Riggs then took a car home for a quick 5:30 a.m. snooze. to 7 a.m., when he had to get up and travel to Dominion to get to the track by 11:30 a.m.
That night, he qualified on the pole and won the first late model race.
“I was fine on Saturday with the adrenaline keeping me up,” said Riggs, who finished fourth in the second feature race due in part to worn tires from the first race. “But right after the second game ended, I was out.”
At the Dominion, Riggs was taken aback by the reception his fighters gave him. Track rivals were among those congratulating the young driver on his top-10 finish in his Truck Series debut.
Everyone knew how impressive Riggs’ run really 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 at the Indiana short track, so a short practice session led to an overcorrection in his qualifying setup and he drove a loose truck in a 26th-place effort in qualifying.
Riggs’ first pit stop of the race was a disaster. He slid through his pit stall. His front tire changer air gun was not working. The fuel tank will not engage the truck nozzle. He dropped a lap as a result and did not return to the first lap until the end of Stage 2.
Despite the chaos, Riggs’ numbers from the fight tell a story of resilience. He made 62 green flag passes, the second most in the field behind Zane Smith’s 62. On two occasions, he recorded the fastest lap in the field. Out of 36 drivers, he placed 14th in the driver rating with a 76.5.
A late caution and a wise strategy requiring him not to fall combined to put Riggs in such a strong position for the final race restart. He battled old tires and an aggressive set of drivers to finish seventh.
“Coming from the end to the comeback to finish seventh at the end, making a good call to stay out, was a good day,” Riggs said. “Everyone from home and people in the racing industry support me. I couldn’t have asked for more in my debut.”
Riggs will get at least one more chance to run in the Truck Series in 2022. She will race for Halmar Friesen again in a few weeks when the series returns to action at Richmond Raceway for the Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation (Aug. 13, 8 pm ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM).
Based on how Riggs performed at the Lucas Oil IRP, one can envision another strong performance from him at Richmond.
Regardless, he will always have the memory of his top-10 finish in his NASCAR national series debut, plus the subsequent reception and victory at Dominion.