Race Weekend Central

Layne Riggs Discusses Progress in Truck Rookie Season & Talent In CARS Tour

At Charlotte Motor Speedway, during the Coca-Cola 600 weekend, Frontstretch did a one-on-one interview with Layne Riggs, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie competing full-time for Front Row Motorsports in 2024.

Riggs discussed the progress he’s made in his rookie season, getting into racing and the memories of his father Scott‘s tenure in the NASCAR Cup Series. He also talked about his time racing in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series and the CARS Tour, and how the latter series has served as a great pipeline for talented late model short-track drivers to graduate to the NASCAR ranks.

Stephen Stumpf, Frontstretch: Based on your website, you’ve been dreaming to race since you were a kid. What are your first memories you have watching your dad (Scott Riggs) racing in NASCAR?

Layne Riggs: Pretty cool stuff. Just being on the grid, getting to sit in his car before the race. Special memories here at Charlotte, especially when he won the [All-Star] Open back at the All-Star weekend. So, pretty cool. He was on the pole here for the 600 18 years ago this weekend, so pretty awesome memories. …

He’s here today and trying to give me as many tips as possible for my first time at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Stumpf: How much of a help has he been as a mentor, as a guider, as you make your way up the ladder?

Riggs: Yeah, he’s helped me a lot. It’s a lot different nowadays than it used to be, just with the way the aero is, the way the trucks are set up and how much more aero matters than back in the older days when the cars are moving around a lot.

He’s got all the basic stuff, still matters. A lot of the fundamentals are still the same, so he’s been super helpful to me, super helpful for my mental gain, my mindset. He’s a great supporter to have by my side.

Stumpf: The last two years, you drove for five different teams between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Truck Series. Best finish of third last year. How has it been, being with so many different teams and netting the full-time ride here at Front Row Motorsports in 2024?

Riggs: It’s a dream come true. I’m super thankful for Front Row and what they’ve done for me, and the opportunity that they’ve given me to race full-time. I’ve worked really hard for it, raced late models for a long time, and about a year ago, I was even questioning if I was going to be racing anymore.

I’m about to graduate college here soon (UNC Charlotte, Mechanical Engineering), and I was thinking if I don’t have a full-time ride by then, I’m probably just going to hang up the helmet and move on to something else.

So I think the good Lord was definitely listening in those hard times and guided me in the right direction and guided me right here at Front Row. So I’m super fortunate to be here and just trying to soak it in every weekend and definitely not taking it for granted.

Stumpf: Heading into this season, what were the expectations, the goals you set, aside from obviously winning?

Riggs: Well, being a championship team, the goals and expectations were set, the bar was set really high. I think early on we kind of got our teeth kicked in a little bit by me being a rookie, having a rookie team.

It’s basically a completely different team than what it was when it won a championship. New crew chief, new driver, everybody on the team is in a new position that they’ve never been in before, and we really just have to learn from scratch. It is truly a rookie team that has a championship team’s notes.

It’s been tough. I’ve been learning a lot, but we’re getting better in the race. And just the kind of couple of races, I feel like something’s just finally clicked and everything’s been going good.

The pit crew was struggling at the beginning of the season. They really stepped it up, and at Darlington, we were fastest team on pit road. I think just the progression has been a linear uptrend. We’ve had our good, bad moments throughout the season, but I really think that we’re on the right track now.

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Stumpf: With the chemistry of the team, how much of a difference has it been between starting the season off in Daytona and now, three months later?

Riggs: I mean, at first, we went in with high expectations and got in wrecks early, had parts failures, mechanic failures, pit crew errors, just everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. And it’s like, man, you kind of had to take a step back and say, ‘OK, just go in, start fresh and just do the best every weekend and just put the past behind you.’

I feel like we finally did that. Everybody’s in the right mindset, everybody’s motivated and we all want to go win as bad as each other.

Stumpf: To your point, you were really fast at Darlington, got to run your dad’s RC Cola throwback truck, although unfortunately the finish didn’t show for it. But you were fast there, you were fast at North Wilkesboro. Got a third. How rewarding has that been? How much of a relief has it been just given the start you guys had?

Riggs: It’s been good. We really needed that run last weekend in North Wilkesboro. I left Darlington with a smile on my face because we were running up front, and we ran in front of Ross [Chastain] all day long, and he ended up winning the race.

It’s like, ‘Hey, if we didn’t get in that wreck, we had a shot to win the thing.’ I actually talked to [Ross] at North Wilkesboro about that. He’s like, ‘Man, I wish you wouldn’t have gotten in that wreck, you probably would have won your first race.’ Pretty cool to hear somebody who’s a celebrity like that racing in the Cup Series to get that little pat on the back. It’s definitely good. …

It’s really good to be here, just glad I’m finally getting that recognition and that understanding, and I just hope we can finally put it all together soon.

Stumpf: So far, all four of your top 10s in the Truck Series have come at short tracks. With your experience racing the CARS Tour, the NASCAR Weekly Series, have the short tracks come more naturally at first [in the truck]?

Riggs: They do. Just the straight fundamentals of mechanical grip. Aero isn’t really a big deal; you can actually run behind people. You go to these big tracks, it’s 100% about aero and where you place yourself and the chess game of that. That’s really been hard for me to get a grasp of. I’ve been trying to study all I can about it, and I feel like I’m getting better at it.

Darlington is one of those tracks, and it’s got that little short-track mentality, just with the low grip level. But I feel like I’m finally starting to get a hold of it.

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Stumpf: With all your experience with short tracks, the CARS Tour, I don’t think we need much introduction as to how many names have come out of there. You, Taylor Gray, Kaden Honeycutt, Josh Berry — I could go on and on forever. How helpful has that series been in developing drivers into the NASCAR ranks?

Riggs: The CARS Tour is a great pool to pull from for talent. It’s definitely the hardest short track division there is in the country, and I think it’s right up here with the competition of the Truck Series, just at a little bit different level.

It’s a lot of good drivers there, a lot of people that deserve an opportunity, and I’m proud to be a part of that series and [be] one of the legacy drivers of it. It’s definitely where I learned to cut my teeth against some of the veterans.

Stumpf: With you running that and the Weekly Series, just how much fun has it been racing late models? Are there any other forms of racing that you may want to try out in the future?

Riggs: Yeah, I love short track racing, late model racing. It’s always great competition, hard racing, and it’s enjoyable. …

After running Circuit of the Americas — I thought that I was going to hate road course racing. But showing up there, running as well as we did, it was honestly just really fun. So I’d love to go run a Trans-Am car one time. just go run some road course races.

I thought it was enjoyable, it’s fun behind the wheel. You’re actually having to do a lot of work, and the driver kind of makes a difference. I’d like to do that, or even a dirt car sometimes, even a crate modified or late model or even a micro sprint at Millbridge [Speedway].

I definitely want to try to start venturing out and doing some other forms of racing here in the near future.

Stumpf: What are some things you do in your spare time to try and improve and be the best that you can as a racecar driver?

Riggs: It’s really tough now with the limited amount of practice you get, you really have to spend a lot of time with the simulator, watching a lot of in-car cameras, race footage and just take notes and learn and soak it in the best you can.

It’s a lot of visual learning now that you have to really do, and post-race debriefs, pre-race debriefs. …

The best experience and the best way to get better is just to do it more, get more experience on the racetrack and running races, especially running up front with guys that are talented and that you can race door-to-door with and learn from. Like when Kyle [Busch] comes and runs the Truck Series, that really helps us rookies a lot.

Stumpf: When you’re off the track, what are some things, hobbies you like to do in your free time?

Riggs: Any racecar driver likes playing iRacing; it’s fun. I like going fishing. I hang out with my friends, and the coolest thing is that I can be a racecar driver on the weekend, but during the week, I can be just like any guy that’s my age. Go hang out and have a good time, and you can put racing aside. So, I definitely can have a front and back life.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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