Less than a month ago, Bahama, North Carolina native Layne Riggs found himself on the heartbreaking end of a controversial finish at Carteret County, as an accident between him and Josh Berry in the closing laps of the race forced Riggs to surrender the lead and start from the rear of the field, where he would ultimately finish a few car lengths behind race winner Bobby McCarty.

After returning to Carteret County and leading wire-to-wire in the Solid Rock Carriers 150 on July 7th, Riggs turned his attention to the CARS Response Energy Tour’s first visit to Kingsport Speedway, where he would hold off challenges from track regular Kres Vandyke and Lee Pulliam to pick up his first CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour victory of the season.

“Getting the CARS Tour win just means so much,” Riggs said in victory lane. “We struggled to get Top 10s at the beginning of the year, but we kept working on the cars late at night at the shop, and we got better, took some notes, and now it’s all starting to come together. We’re starting to figure these racecars out.”

Going into the weekend, many CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour regulars were unsure of what to expect at Kingsport Speedway, as a good portion of them, including Riggs, had never set foot at the track prior to Friday evening. The struggles of many drivers were reflected in practice and qualifying, as points leader Bobby McCarty and four-time Whelen All-American Series champion Lee Pulliam found themselves in the middle of the pack at the start of the race.

Riggs and his team immediately found speed in the #99 Romeo Guest Construction Late Model as soon as it was unloaded from the hauler, as Riggs consistently posted some of the fastest times in all four practice sessions, which culminated into a pole-winning qualifying lap of 14.861. At the drop of the green flag, Riggs easily pulled ahead of outside pole-sitter Deac McCaskill, and would hold the lead through the opening stages before a rain shower halted the action on Lap 27.

When the red flag was lifted, Kres Vandyke managed to get a strong run on the restart and took the lead away from Riggs. As the race progressed, many teams began developing mechanical issues, which started to dwindle the number of cars on track by the halfway point, but Vandyke continued to pull away from Riggs and the rest of the field before a competition caution flew on Lap 74, erasing Vandyke’s advantage.

Vandyke elected to take the outside lane for the restart while Riggs was forced to settle for the inside lane, but the two made contact going into Turn 1, forcing Vandyke up the track, and allowing Riggs to take the lead. Vandyke initially pressed Riggs hard for the lead, but he was unable to find the opening that he needed to challenge Riggs for the win until Nik Williams’ brakes failed with six laps remaining, resulting in another caution.

Riggs timed the following restart perfectly, as he opened up an advantage on Vandyke and the rest of the field, but he would be forced to do it again after Cody Haskins came to a rest at the top of Turn 4. Riggs refused to crack under the pressure, as he opened up another advantage on Vandyke, who found himself in a close battle with Pulliam for second, and cruised to his third career victory in the CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour.

Although Riggs understands that he will unlikely contend for the championship after missing the Mid-Atlantic Classic at Orange County Speedway due to a broken collarbone, he and his team remain committed to winning as many races as possible, and is proud of the effort that he and his team put together to take the checkered flag first at Kingsport Speedway. Riggs knew it would be difficult to beat Vandyke at the track that has brought him a lot of success, but he had nothing but praise for his fellow competitor after battling him hard throughout the evening.

“When he had a straightaway on me, I thought there was no way I was going to win this race, as he had the fastest car,” Riggs said. “We had that competition caution, and I knew that’s where I had to make it count. I drove the wheels off of it in there, and I think we touched just a little bit, but that’s racing and it’s all good. He’s a class act, and when I was the control car I took the outside, because I knew he was a good enough racer that I could trust him on the outside. We had a good car, and they started to slow down a little bit, and it ended up being perfect for us.”

Vandyke was able to hold off Pulliam for second, but the Late Model veteran had to be attended to by medical personnel after the race after suffering from dehydration behind the wheel. Pulliam cut into McCarty’s point lead slightly with a third place finish, while Sam Mayer and Deac McCaskill completed the Top 5.

Unofficial Race Results:

1. 99 Layne Riggs
2. 15 Kres Vandyke
3. 5 Lee Pulliam
4. 9 Sam Mayer
5. 22 Deac McCaskill
6. 25 Derrick Lancaster
7. 22m Bobby McCarty
8. 27 Tommy Lemons Jr.
9. 88 Josh Berry
10. 2p Brandon Pierce
11. 77 Trevor Ward
12. 18 Ty Gibbs -1
13. 74 Ronald Hill -2
14. 21 Trey Bayne -2
15. 2 Cody Haskins OUT
16. 32 Nik Williams OUT
17. 87 Hayden Woods OUT
18. 9w Charlie Watson OUT
19. 44 Wayne Hale OUT
20. 31 Thomas Beane OUT
21. 96 Danny O’Quinn OUT
22. 07 Bradley McCaskill OUT
23. 1m Craig Moore OUT