CONCORD, N.C. — Layne Riggs knows the odds are against him.
Riggs, 18, enters the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour Old North State Nationals on Oct. 24-25 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway with an outside shot at winning his first CARS Late Model Stock Tour championship.
He trails point leader Jared Fryar by 15 points entering the season finale, which will pay $30,000 to win. While he’d much rather be in Fryar’s place as the point leader entering the finale, Riggs finds himself in a better position than a year ago.
“Last year was definitely the toughest year I’ve ever had in my career. I feel like this is kind of our rebound back,” said Riggs, who failed to find victory lane with the series last year and recorded a best finish of fourth. “We worked hard over the offseason. We only got one race in before COVID-19 shut everything down.
“Our first race we finished like fifth. We need to be better, so we worked hard and slowly progressed. We didn’t get better in a week, it just slowly got better over the year.”
His hard work in the shop has paid off with two CARS Late Model Stock Tour victories this season. He’s the only driver to win more than once this season.
His victories came on Aug. 29 at Virginia’s Langley Speedway and Sept. 12 at North Carolina’s Carteret County Speedway. It looked like he was on his way to a third victory at South Carolina’s Florence Motor Speedway on Oct. 3 before a mechanical gremlin eliminated him from contention
“The competition right now is harder than it’s ever been, like always in racing,” Riggs said. “We ended up being able to get two wins in a row. It looked like it was going to be a third in Florence and then had a mechanical issue. That was tough because we were right there in the championship and now we’ve got a little bit of work to do.”
The Old North State Nationals, which were originally scheduled to take place at North Carolina’s Orange County Speedway before being moved to Greenville-Pickens Speedway due to COVID-19 restrictions, is expected to draw one of the strongest late model stock car fields of the season.
Riggs thinks that could help him as he looks to earn enough points to chase down Fryar.
“If it was just a regular race it would be really hard to win this championship, but the way we’re kind of looking at it is, it’s a bonus that some other really good competition might show up,” Riggs said. “If we’re really on our game and he might be a little bit off, those extra cars between us might be a differentiating factor in getting us back in the championship hunt and possibly pull it off.
“Sometimes I feel like this is a $30,000 (race), this is like Martinsville, it shouldn’t be a points race,” Riggs continued. “It should be like an all-star race, just going for the money. At the same time, in our position, this might be something that can help us out.”
As if racing for $30,000 and battling for a championship isn’t enough stress, this will be Riggs’ first trip to the half-mile asphalt oval. He said his team will lean on their notes from similar tracks to help them prepare for the challenge of Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge never seeing the place,” Riggs said. “If you’re running up front and you’ve got a pretty thick notebook, you can almost kind of guess what the track’s going to be like from video and from talking with other people who have experience.
“We’re just going to show up, treat it like any other track we go to and just do our slight tweaks to our baseline setup and, hopefully, we’ll be right on track.”