MARTINSVILLE, VA – One year after having a supporting role in the conclusion of last year’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300, Layne Riggs is back at Martinsville Speedway – and he won’t be deterred by a recent injury as he chases his first win of the 2019 season.
Riggs enters Thursday’s test session with torn ligaments in his arm after falling down the stairs. The 17-year-old from Bahama, North Carolina says he should be okay to run laps on Thursday and expects to be fully healed in time for next weekend’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
“All the tendons and ligaments and everything are just kind of upset right now,” Riggs told Race22. “Went to the emergency room last night and got it put back in the right spot. It’s a little sore today but I think I’ll be alright by next week. I usually drive with my left arm anyway so I think it’ll all work out fine. Just when I move it around a lot, it hurts, but usually I don’t move a whole lot in the car so hopefully it won’t hurt that bad but I’ve always got a backup driver, dad, if I need it.”
Riggs enters Martinsville amidst one of the most challenging seasons of his racing career. It has been over a year since his last win, which came at Carteret County Speedway in September 2018, however he has scored four top-five finishes this season in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour. At Martinsville, Riggs hopes the bad luck is behind him and he can finish the season on the highest of highs by winning Late Model Stock Car racing’s richest and most prestigious race.
“I think we have the same amount of luck going into each race,” Riggs explained. “I feel like our cars are pretty good right now. We’ve been working to get them better. If anything, we’ve actually gone back to more of an old school setup that we’ve ran a lot and been successful with. So, we came back here with pretty much what we had last year. We completely went through the whole car, got a whole new drive-train. All the parts and pieces we thought had a lot of laps on them, we replaced. The car is about as fresh as it’s been since it’s been built.
“Really looking forward to this being somewhere where I can capitalize and make the year all worth it in the end.”
Riggs, who has run well at flat tracks such as Carteret County and Langley Speedway, as well as concrete tracks like Kingsport and Bristol, was surprised at how well he ran in last year’s race. He had a shot to win the race in the closing laps, exceeding expectations.
“I was happy with the run that we had. I feel like we had a really strong car compared to when we came to test, we were mid-pack. I was a little disappointed. But, we came back for the race and we were pretty good. I really wasn’t expecting to run that well at the end but the invert helped us out, track position helped us a lot, made good adjustments at halfway and we were just really smart I feel like at the end. Just had to go for it. Such a big race.”
Ultimately, Riggs ended up with a 25th place result after being involved in an incident on an overtime finish attempt with Peyton Sellers and Bubba Pollard. Riggs made a move for the win on a restart when Sellers got loose off his front bumper in turn one before going around and collecting Pollard. Riggs chose to park the car when he was penalized for the incident. After the race, Riggs insisted it was a racing deal, though his reputation took a hit as many fans felt he intentionally wrecked Sellers and Pollard.
Riggs has since talked with Sellers about the incident – but has not had the opportunity to talk things out with Pollard.
“Me and Bubba haven’t talked especially since he’s in the Super Late Model world a lot. We don’t get to see each other often. Me and Peyton have talked, me and him are good now. We raced at South Boston and everything was good there. I feel like it’s just, we’re in Virginia, a lot of their fans were here, just a lot of favoritism there. I feel like it just depends what side you’re on going into it will be what side you’re on coming out of it. Whatever side they were on, they’re going to think I’m wrong and whoever’s on my side is going to think they’re wrong. That’s just one of those racing deals.”