Race Weekend Central

2008 NASCAR Driver Review: Scott Riggs

Scott Riggs

2008 Ride: No. 66 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet
2008 Primary Sponsor: State Water Heaters
2008 Owner: Joe Custer
2008 Crew Chiefs: Bootie Barker, Matt Borland (during six-race suspension to Barker)
2008 Stats: 34 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10, 31st in points

High Point: Riggs’s lone top-10 finish of 2008 at Talladega in the fall was the high point for the Bahama, N.C. native. The veteran put his State Water Heaters Chevrolet in the 11th starting spot, led some laps and came home in seventh position after avoiding several wrecks. That run proved to be the high point for him for a couple of reasons. One, it came at a time when his team was just barely inside the Top 35 in the owner standings. As such, the organization used it as a springboard, following it up with finishes if 19th and 21st over the next two weeks to put themselves solidly amongst the cars with guaranteed starting spots.

Secondly, with the great run Scott posted, he showed he was able to focus on racing despite the whirlwind of uncertainty surrounding his future. Many other drivers might have just packed it in for 2008, but Riggs’s free agency motivated him to be successful as the season wound down.

Low Point: The low point for Riggs was a seven-day span in late spring. During a routine NASCAR inspection at Charlotte, both Haas teams were found to have illegal mounting brackets for wings on the cars. With a backup machine, Scott could only muster a 28th-place finish at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, struggling to bounce back from the accusations labeled against him. Then, a few days later, NASCAR fined the team 150 driver and owner points for their infractions, as well as suspending crew chief Bootie Barker for the next six races.

The penalties made an impact immediately, as the team went out and finished a horrid 39th at Dover. Within a week, the team went from 26th in the owner standings to 36th, and had to qualify for races on time for several races – a position Riggs became all too familiar with while racing for Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2007.

Summary: The 2008 racing season showed Riggs is clearly capable of being a solid driver – despite having less than a solid team around him. For the most part, he went quietly about his racing in the midst of internal chaos at Haas CNC. Starting and finishing around the 25th position, not ruffling a lot of feathers with other drivers, and not complaining about his team or any other varying circumstances surrounding him was a consistent marker of Riggs’s season.

Still, he took a slightly below average team on his shoulders, and kept it in the Top 35 until the big penalty in May. Then, he stepped up and drove his way back into the Top 35 after their appeal was denied, meaning the 2009 driver replacing him would have a guaranteed starting spot for the first five races of this upcoming season.

And his thanks for all this was – nothing. No contract offer for 2009 from this or any other team. So, Riggs sits and waits for a call to drive in 2009. And with Bobby Labonte and Elliott Sadler both available, it may be a long wait for Riggs by the phone. But you won’t hear him complain, because Scott Riggs is a racecar driver, not a whiner.

Off-Track News: With the high number of rained out qualifying attempts this year, Scott and crew chief Bootie Barker were able to spend Saturday afternoons from 1-3 p.m. visiting with team owner Gene Haas at the Federal Corrections Institute near Vandenberg Air Force Base. Haas is in jail for tax fraud and won’t be released until the middle of 2009 at the earliest.

2009 Outlook: Simply put, there are none for Riggs at this time. As of right now, all Cup, Nationwide and Truck options have been filled for him – despite the stellar resume of the five-year Cup Series veteran.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: B
2007 Grade: D
2008 Grade: B-

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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