Riggs Avoids Chaos, Wins $10,000 Rodney Cook Classic

Riggs Avoids Chaos
Layne Riggs celebrates in victory lane at Ace Speedway on Saturday. (David Sink photo)

ALTAMAHAW, N.C. – Layne Riggs’ strategy during the recent ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway of staying out of trouble was foiled by a late-race mechanical failure that put him out of action.

However, Riggs reloaded and reapplied that same strategy to Saturday’s sixth-annual Rodney Cook Classic for late model stock cars at Ace Speedway, and it paid off with a trip to victory lane.

As top contenders Bobby McCarty, Dustin Rumley and Ryan Millington collided up front and were ultimately eliminated from contention as the laps wound down, Riggs held true and ran his own race, lurking among the top three all day and finally pouncing on a lap-114 restart.

When Millington got into McCarty in turn three and sent the leading Nelson Motorsports No. 12 up the race track, Riggs leapt to the bottom from third and ended up passing both Millington and McCarty in one swoop.

A spin back in the pack by R.D. Smith froze the field a few moments later, putting Riggs out front and in position to drive away from the field over the final 26 laps to a much-needed victory for the 17-year-old.

“Man, after the year we’ve had, this feels so sweet,” Riggs said in victory lane. “Right there after that 40 (to go) mark, I knew everybody was really going to be on their game. You were going to have to make the right adjustments … and luckily we made just the right ones and we stayed on the bottom when we needed to in order to stay out of trouble.

“I knew the end was going to be a lot of hand to hand combat, so I just tried to stay out of it,” he added. “The one that doesn’t fight in the very beginning is the one that’s usually going to be the winner.”

The ensuing restart sealed the deal for Riggs, after McCarty retaliated against Millington going down into turn one and hooked the reigning Ace track champion’s No. 15 into the outside turn-one wall.

McCarty was parked for his actions, while Riggs held serve out front for the duration, finally ending a litany of mechanical troubles and bad luck that has plagued him for much of the season.

“My car really did come to life after the break, so I think I might have had something for McCarty, but I hated it for everybody that got in those accidents,” Riggs noted. “I feel like not all of it was called for, but you know, it was OK for us. I was glad that I wasn’t a part of it for at least one time this year.”

Thanks to the calamity of the closing stages, Jacob Heafner was able to work his way through to finish as the runner-up, 1.422 seconds back of Riggs at the checkered flag.

Trevor Ward completed the podium in third, ahead of Stacy Puryear and Davin Scites.

Thomas Scott, Zack Clifton, Jason York, Thomas Beam and Kevin Neal filled out the rest of the top 10.

The finish:

1. Layne Riggs, 2. Jacob Heafner, 3. Trevor Ward, 4. Stacy Puryear, 5. Davin Scites, 6. Thomas Scott, 7. Zack Clifton, 8. Jason York, 9. Thomas Beam, 10. Kevin Neal, 11. Austin Powell, 12. Heath Causey, 13. Justin Carroll, 14. Ryan Millington, 15. Bobby McCarty, 16. R.D. Smith, 17. Dustin Rumley, 18. Justin Hicks, 19. Jamie York, 20. Hunter Causey, 21. Blake Stallings, 22. Dean Fogleman, 23. Gabriel Fogg.

Lap Leader(s): McCarty 1-21, York 22, McCarty 23-111, Millington 112, McCarty 113, Riggs 114-140.