Layne Riggs Becomes Youngest NASCAR Weekly Series National Champion
Sep 22, 2022
On Monday, 21-year-old Layne Riggs officially landed the best opportunity of his young NASCAR National Series career, as Kaulig Racing announced it had signed a multi-race deal with the local short track phenom in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Riggs will have sponsorship support from his longtime sponsorship partner Infinity Communications for the effort.
In an exclusive interview with Racing America, Riggs details that the opportunity is for a total of three races, and he'll make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.
"It'll be three races -- Texas, Las Vegas, and Martinsville -- in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing in the No. 11 car," Riggs said.
Riggs, the 2022 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion and current driver for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the CARS Tour ranks, has impressed in the minimal opportunities that he's had in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ranks. Riggs states that an impressive third-place outing for Spire Motorsports at IRP in the Truck Series earlier this year played a big role in landing this opportunity with Kaulig Racing.
"It probably gave me an opportunity to have this opportunity to run the Kaulig car. We went to Chris Rice, and he's been watching me for a long time," Riggs explained. "He just kind of said he had some races open, an opportunity and made a deal that we couldn't really resist. So excited that I was the guy to get picked to do it."
To this point, Riggs has failed to land a full-time ride like many other young drivers. Riggs feels that landing a three-race deal with Kaulig Racing shows that grinding it out and producing great results at local race tracks can pay off in the long run for budding race car drivers.
"I think so," Riggs said. "And the key here is that someone like Josh Berry recently painted that Avenue and painted that sidewalk and I feel like I'm just kind of walking in the path behind him down the same road doing well in Late Model Stock racing. Obviously, with the CARS Tour being so big, the eyes really are on short track racing right now and people are realizing that's where the talent pool is. That's where all the superstar drivers are at.
"Being competitive there and winning races, winning the national championship, doing well in my races so far has created buzz for me and, and got me the eyes on me that I think I deserve."
Riggs, the son of former NASCAR National Series racer Scott Riggs, is for sure a star in the making. If he lands all of the right opportunities along the way, there is no telling what he can accomplish. He's that good.
But even with how good he is, Riggs is currently a short track specialist, who will be making two of his three scheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with Kaulig at 1.5-mile intermediate ovals. Riggs says he will lean heavily on a mix of iRacing, the Chevrolet manufacturer Sim program, and his natural instincts to prepare for the unknowns of the mile-and-a-half tracks.
"[I'll be] Pretty much just iRacing in the living room and doing as much sim time as I can at Chevrolet. I know it's sometimes limited for everybody, especially right now during crunch time for all the playoff drivers, they're definitely getting the priority on everything as they should," Riggs said. "But I'm just gonna have to be a natural, talented race car driver and just go, try to learn as quick as I can. I know I'm not gonna have much practice and haven't had much SIM time and probably won't get a whole lot for it as, as I need. But just gotta go in there with, with eyes open and being smart and using my common sense and my racing knowledge and applying it to a big track."
It also doesn't hurt to have a father, who has run the NASCAR gamut in the past, as well as a mentor like Kevin Harvick who is a future NASCAR Hall of Famer. Riggs says he'll lean on both his father and Harvick heading into his race this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway as well.
"Obviously, I have dad to give me a lot of advice and now my relationship with Kevin Harvick is good. I lean on him a lot for advice and, and stuff like that," Riggs explained. "[Harvick]'s already tried to help me some for getting ready for Texas and preparing. Just having the right people in your corner to know what to do and know what it takes to win a race and what, and run well is what it's all about."
As the deal with Kaulig Racing has progressed, Riggs has been licking his chops as he's been watching what he feels to be excellent racing action in the NASCAR Xfinity Series on television broadcasts every week.
"It's been good stuff," Riggs said of the Xfinity racing product. "I've been watching it and watching the series. Man, I'd love to be out there racing against Josh [Berry] again. All of those guys are so talented that run up front. Obviously, the race the other night at Bristol was amazing. We all watched it and there was really good side-by-side racing. They look like just a whole lot better aerodynamically at the big tracks and the trucks are just such an odd boxy shape and trying to run so fast with it, it's really difficult with air and lines and such. Even at tracks like IRP that you wouldn't think aero would matter, it does. You know, I feel like the Xfinity cars are a whole lot more sleek, and it makes for better racing. I'm excited to get behind the wheel of one."
Riggs doesn't like to attribute an expectation heading into a race weekend. He typically prefers to let a race unfold naturally without any preconceived ideas of how he feels he should run going in. But the young racer tells Racing America that his goal, as always, is to win the race in his debut at Texas Motor Speedway. However, he says if a win is off the table he would ideally love to come home inside the top 10 to top 15 in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut.
If Riggs can check that box, and continue to gain experience and show improvement in his final two starts of the year, it should bode very well for his future prospects. But for now, Riggs is focused on the here and now, which involves getting the best finishes that he can for the No. 11 Kaulig Racing team.
Photo Credit: Jonathan McCoy, TobyChristie.com