Ryan Millington and Layne Riggs engaged in one of the closest finishes in the history of the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Stock Tour at Ace Speedway last weekend, with Millington edging Riggs at the start-finish line by .040 seconds.
The duo encountered each other on-track once again during the Race Face Tel-Med 300 at Hickory Motor Speedway, but a strong run for Millington came to a premature end after Riggs got into the back of him in Turn 4 while the two battled for second.
“It was just hard racing between me and Layne,” Millington said. “He had been running that top side all night and you have to chop people off. He did just that, so I knew I had to run him up the track a little bit to get around him, which I did, but I guess he wasn’t too happy about it.”
Millington was able to best Riggs in qualifying by starting on the inside of the second row, while Riggs, who entered Saturday as the Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour points leader, would start the 150-lap feature in the tenth position.
When the green flag dropped, Riggs was one of the first drivers to take full advantage of the high line and methodically began working his way up to the front of the field before passing Corey Heim for the lead on Lap 20.
Riggs, Heim and Craig Moore would exchange the lead on multiple occasions as the sun began to set, but Heim would take the lead on Lap 78 and pull away from the rest of the field, which forced Riggs to go on defense as he tried to defend the second position.
Millington was one of several drivers who had successfully conserved their equipment during the first two-thirds of Saturday’s LMSC feature and worked his way into the third position behind Riggs with 25 laps remaining.
Both Millington and Riggs fought hard for the second position for over a dozen laps, but the battle between the two ended with Millington facing the wrong way in Turn 4 while Riggs drove away to prepare for a late-race restart.
Riggs admitted that he was doing everything possible to try and hold off Millington during the closing stages of the race and did not want to race him too aggressively, but he praised Millington for visiting his trailer to discuss the circumstances that unfolded on the track.
[Ryan] got around me and we drove into the corner, but I rolled in on him and hit him,” Riggs said about the incident. “He spun around, but me and him talked after the race and it’s all cool. I apologized to him, because I didn’t mean to wreck him at all. It seemed like he got loose and mashed the brakes, but he came up on my nose.”
The incident between Millington and Riggs came only a week after Josh Berry retaliated against Bobby McCarty while the latter was leading the Race at Ace 125. In response, the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour disqualified Berry from the event and suspended him for one race, which he served at Hickory.
Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour competition director Danny Willard affirmed that the series will penalize any driver for an incident that looks intentional, but he admitted that he did not get a good enough view of Millington’s spin to determine whether or not Riggs had deliberately tried to wreck him.
“Brandon [Willard] threw the yellow flag before I knew what was going on,” Willard said. “By the time I turned around, I saw the #15 parked on the high side in Turn 4. I got with my backup over there and they didn’t see it either, but I talked to Ryan about it after the race. You can’t see everything, and I hate it for Ryan.”
Riggs maintained the second position for the last restart of the evening, but he failed to keep pace with Heim and struggled to hold off a strong group of cars behind him before taking the checkered flag in the fifth position.
Although Riggs was disappointed that he could not break his two-year Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour winless drought at Hickory after a strong start, he said that he learned a lot about the track and plans to apply that knowledge when the series returns to Hickory for the Throwback 276.
“The car was way too loose at the end,” Riggs said. “Corey and Lee Pulliam are very smart and they knew the track was going to free up. We don’t run here on a weekly basis, so we had no idea that was going to happen, but we will put in the notebooks that Hickory gets more free at night.”
Millington elected to drive his car behind the wall after his spin and ended up finishing in 23rd, but he was proud of the speed his #15 Leisure Tyme Rentals Chevrolet showed for the second consecutive week and is confident that he can win several more races before the year concludes
“There are no hard feelings there,” Millington said. “I’m not going to go out there and wreck [Riggs.] We’re going to run clean like we always do and obviously this is a part of racing. When it’s late in the race, that kind of stuff happens.”
Millington will not run the next Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour race at Carteret County Speedway on July 11, but Riggs enters the event with experience and momentum on his side as the series points leader and as a multi-time winner at the facility.