What drivers said after AAA 400 Drive For Autism at Dover

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Matt Kenseth – finished 1st: “It feels good to be (in victory lane). It always feels good to win. Dover has always been my favorite track. I made my first Cup start here many moons ago. It feels good to get one, and I feel like this is usually one of my better places, and it’s been a little bit of a struggle lately. It feels good to be here, for sure.”

Kyle Larson – finished 2nd: “We were really good. We were better than Matt (Kenseth) there. … I didn’t think I would catch (Kenseth), but I got another shot at him at the end and was trying to do all I could to pass him without getting into him. Matt, except for a couple of instances last year, he is probably the cleanest driver out here. I wanted to race him with all that respect and felt like I did a good job. I probably could have got into him in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 there once and maybe got by him, but I didn’t want to do that. Looking back, maybe I should have because I could be in the Chase right now, but we will just keep working hard.”

Chase Elliott – finished 3rd: “It was definitely wild from my view. If the fans didn’t get what they wanted to see today then they need to go do something else. That was a heck of a race, in my opinion. Obviously, wish we could have come out on top. Matt (Kenseth) and Kyle (Larson) were racing really hard for the lead. I tried to steal one from them. They were a little better than we were, but we worked hard and tried to stay in the ballgame today and fortunately came out with a decent finish, just not close enough.”

Kasey Kahne – finished 4th: “We had to work really hard. The pit crew did great on pit road. We passed a lot of cars there. The adjustments got the car better. We were real tight landing/loading and then over at the three-quarter mark, too. It was tough, but we got our Farmers Insurance Chevy better as the race went and then avoided the big wreck on the frontstretch and ended up with a top five.”

Kurt Busch – finished 5th: “It was a good top-five finish. I thought we could run down (Matt) Kenseth and (Kyle) Larson. It was great running with Chase Elliott. I just smacked the fence off of Turn 2 with about 15 (laps) to go. It was like I cashed in my chip and I’m like, ‘I’m going now,’ and I overstepped the limits of the car. I got tight. I induced that tight by driving it too hard and smacked the ol’ fence. The concrete always wins. The car always has to suffer. I let my guys down today.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 6th: “This was one of those Dover races I don’t think anybody will forget anytime soon. There was a lot of chaos, and we ran really well. Unfortunately, we got caught up running second and leading a lot of laps and tore up the car. I guess the car in front of me (Austin Dillon) had a flat tire, and it just happened all too quick for me to do anything. It knocked a lot of speed out of our Wurth Ford Fusion, but we were still very competitive. I am proud of my guys to recover to finish sixth at the end. We caught some breaks with that big wreck, which probably gave us five or six spots, and then we clawed from there. We restarted ninth and drove up to sixth. It was very respectable.”

Ryan Blaney – finished 8th: “It was a long day. We got better throughout the day. I don’t know what happened to us in that last run, we weren’t nearly as good as we were the runs before that. I was confident we would finish better than that, but we will have to look back and see what we changed and what happened. Not a bad day for us. It was a good solid run and hopefully we can start stringing together some of these good finishes. … It got wild there for a while, and there were a couple big wrecks. We missed the big one. I don’t know how we missed it but somehow we did. It was definitely a strange day and definitely a strange first Dover Cup race for me.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished 9th: “At the beginning of the race, we were a fifth-, sixth-place car and just kept working on it and when we needed to be the best car, I think we were. Just one of those deals. Wrong place, wrong time (being involved in the multi-car wreck). Frustrating, but we got a top-10 out of it, so not too bad. The guys on pit road did a great job fixing it. Just hate that it happened. I wanted to be fourth on that restart, but I didn’t want to be fourth that bad. I should have been third so maybe I should have not let the 19 beat us off pit road. I don’t know how you can see those things coming. All in all good day, just bad finish.”

Trevor Bayne – finished 10th: “Sometimes, we haven’t felt like this season we got the finishes we deserved, and today we didn’t get a finish we deserved, but we will take it. The shoe was on the right foot today. It is nice to get a finish like that after not having a great weekend. We were really tight all day. That last run we were pretty fast at the end of it. We will learn from it, come back next time and count our blessings here and take a top 10 happily. I was on the edge of my seat out there for sure. It is a really grueling race track. You can’t let your guard down for a second, or it will bite you. We saw that in practice and saw that in the race. I am just glad to get out of here without any wounds.”

Paul Menard – finished 11th: “Yeah, it was a struggle. We just could not get going on restarts. After 20 laps we were pretty good. We got a little lucky with all the wrecked cars.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 12th: “Yeah, just crazy. It is what it is. I’m happy with the finish. We have got to get better. Definitely, we just keep gaining. We’ve got to keep doing what we are doing and keep persevering here and hopefully, we will be where we need to be and meet our goals at the end of the year.”

Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick – finished 15th: “We had a good car. We had driven from 20th back to fourth there before the caution. You had a couple of guys stay out and caused a big mess on the restart and got tore up. The guys did good on pit road to keep it out there and keep it going and at least get a decent finish out of it.”

Landon Cassill – finished 19th: “I feel really motivated right now to figure this car out. We have had good finishes and good runs without taking off yet. We are really motivated and communicating about what this car needs. I am excited about that. I am glad we got a 19th place finish because it keeps your attitude up while you keep your head down working on the car.”

Joey Logano – finished 22nd: “We couldn’t see (the big multi-car wreck). When you are stacked up on the restart like that there isn’t much to be able to see at all. Unfortunately, it looked like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) had trouble getting going and it stacked us up. I tried checking up and going to the bottom like we were going to miss it and got hit from behind and that sent me into it more. We have been the victim of circumstances the last few weeks. It is what it is. I am not going to say it was bad luck. We put ourselves in position to be back there on our pit stop. It is our fault. We have to smarten up and get a little better at every little area. We had a decent car. We weren’t the fastest car, but we were a top-five car for sure. Things happen.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 25th: “I got a great start in second gear. As I went to put it in third (gear) and came across the shifting gate it never went into third. It actually got locked in the neutral area of the transmission. I had plenty of time. Martin (Truex, Jr.) was plenty patient with me and I was trying to get third, and I couldn’t. I tried for fourth and third and fourth, and I finally got hit. Just a freak deal with something with the transmission. I’ve never had that happen to me in my career.”

Carl Edwards – finished 28th: “I didn’t see much. I was trying to give Kurt (Busch) a little room, it looked like he got choked up and as I looked at the replay it looked like I moved down a little and (Kyle) Larson got underneath me. I don’t think he meant to do it, but it surprised me. I didn’t know he was that close. We’ll just chalk it up to racing, but the hard part is we felt like we were going to win that million bucks for those kids, and I felt like we could win this race. It’s tough not to be out there.”

Greg Biffle – finished 29th: “I didn’t see anything. I just saw cars stopped in front of me and there was just no way we could stop. The spotter was telling me to go low, which I am not sure if that was the right move either. I don’t know if there is anything I could have done. I just tried to stop as quickly as I could. There was just no time to stop, I guess. (It’s) really frustrating. We had probably a top-12 car there and it was going to be a good day for us. It was the first time we had run this well in awhile.”

Kyle Busch – finished 30th: “We either missed something today or we had something break – just something wasn’t right. Got really, really, really evil there about lap 230 or lap 250, something like that, and I was having a real hard time holding onto it and even making laps. Just trying to check everything out and see if there was anything that was broke, but obviously now there’s a lot of things broke and hard to decipher what we can figure out and learn about what we might have had happen there today. Just a tough break.”

Aric Almirola – finished 31st: “It just stinks we all got stacked up like that. I banged up my hand. I think I may have a broken finger, it is pretty sore and swollen. We worked really hard to get back on the lead lap, and we were actually making a lot of progress it just took us all race to get back up on that lead lap. I hate that our day is going to turn out like that. That is a shame. Then to make matters worse I think I have a broken pinky finger. That isn’t very many is it?”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – finished 32nd: “They started wrecking way up in front of us. I couldn’t really tell what was going on. I got to the outside and thought we had missed (the wreck), but the No. 13 (Casey Mears) came up the track, he got collected in it.”

Austin Dillon – finished 33rd: “I think it was the brakes. I was complaining about them before that, having to pump them up. I am just frustrated. Had the same issue at Bristol, and we come here and we have another issue with the brakes. I’m frustrated, but we had a good car. Our Chevrolet was fast, and we had good shot of running top 10, top five depending on track position. We will just have to get them next week.”

Tony Stewart – finished 34th: “Well, the track bar broke, and the back of the car flops back and forth. I don’t know what more there is to say about that. It just broke. … We had been fighting, the car was acting weird for the last 80 to 100 laps. I’m sure it was already starting to break, and it finally just broke the rest of the way.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 40th: “(The wreck) kind of came out of the blue. We had a decent car and were running OK, and then it drove off into (turn) one. Either something broke or it blew a right front. We’re not really sure. I hate it for my guys. They worked hard. We changed everything going into the race, it’s unfortunate. Thank you to Cosmo Motors, the whole team at BK Racing. I’m always grateful for the opportunity and we’ll go get them next week.”

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Where are they now? Scott Riggs races with son, Layne

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Scott Riggs, who raced for 15 years in NASCAR’s top three national series, now is guiding the racing career of his 20-year-old son, Layne.

And things are going well.

Layne won this year’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model championship, scoring 16 wins in 43 starts and edging former series champion Peyton Sellers by four points for the title.

Riggs thus became the youngest champion in Weekly Series history.

“It all started when Layne was 10 years old, mostly just something to entertain him and to have some fun,” Scott told NBC Sports. “But it’s turned into a full-fledged job. My life and plate have been full.”

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes

The Riggs family’s race shop is located in Bahama, North Carolina, Riggs’ home base during his NASCAR career. Scott describes himself as the “truck driver, spotter, crew chief and in-shop mechanic.”

“I am very tired,” he said.

The team, which depends on volunteers, didn’t plan to race in so many events this season, but when Layne started the year with a string of victories, it made sense to chase the national championship and give him a chance to be the youngest winner ever.

“To chase it that hard and be that close and then to win it, it was very exhausting,” Scott said. “It was a very big relief to finish the year.”

Success on short tracks resulted in Layne racing in three Camping World Truck Series events this year with Halmar Racing. He had a best finish of seventh at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in his series debut.

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Scott Riggs ended his NASCAR driving career in 2014 in the Truck Series. He won five Truck races and four Xfinity races and ran 208 Cup races without a win. He made his Truck debut in 1999, moved to Xfinity in 2002 (winning Rookie of the Year) and then to Cup in 2004.

Riggs, now 51, raced in the Cup Series from 2004-13 with stops at MB2 Motorsports and with teams owned by Gene Haas, Tommy Baldwin and Ray Evernham, among others. He had four top-five finishes.

“I think I was very fortunate and the timing was right for me to move up through the ranks and get so many good opportunities,” Riggs said. “I raced late models for a long time, and then all of a sudden I got the opportunity to get in a truck. Won some races and poles and won races and poles in Xfinity.”

MORE: Jody Ridley’s upset for the ages

He ran out of chances in Cup as team models shifted, including some downsizing and mergers.

“I felt like I couldn’t get an opportunity that I had worked for and earned,” Riggs said. “It was hard for me. I was bitter for a year or so. But I look back, and a realization came over me that I was fortunate to have that time with my kids when they were at the right ages. I got to watch them do their things and just be the dad I wanted to be — not being gone four out of every seven days racing.

“I don’t think I’d have the relationship I have today with my kids if I had had a longer time in the sport.”

 

 

NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

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The best quotes from drivers and others involved in NASCAR competition often come in the heat of the moment — after a crash or a close finish or a controversial decision by officials.

NASCAR’s history is filled with memorable quotes from drivers who won races to drivers who watched wins slip away to officials caught in a moment of history.

Here’s a look at 10 that stand out:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. “I didn’t mean to turn him around. I meant to rattle his cage, though.” — Dale Earnhardt, describing how he didn’t mean to wreck Terry Labonte after he wrecked Labonte on the last lap at Bristol Motor Speedway to win the Aug. 28, 1999 race.

2. “They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass. There’s no way to get around that.” — Kevin Harvick, Feb. 21, 2010, offering his opinion on why Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team won so many races after Johnson outran him to win at Auto Club Speedway.

MORE: An upset for the ages: Jody Ridley wins at Dover

3. “It’s a stump-puller.” — Sterling Marlin, emphasizing the strength of his engine after he won the Daytona 500 Feb. 19, 1995.

4. “It’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do.” — Joey Logano, talking about Kevin Harvick after they were involved in a late-race crash at Pocono Raceway June 6, 2010. Harvick’s wife, DeLana, often wore a firesuit similar to those worn by team members during races.

5. “Do you have a brother?” — Ward Burton, responding to a reporter who asked if it was tougher to finish second because the race winner was his brother, Jeff, March 7, 1999 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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6. “I couldn’t hear him. He’s got that little yap-yap mouth. I couldn’t tell what he was saying.” — Ricky Rudd, commenting on what Kevin Harvick said to him after they wrecked at Richmond Raceway, Sept. 6, 2003.

7. “We can’t race with tears in our eyes.” — team owner Robert Yates, explaining why his team would not participate in the next week’s race after its driver, Davey Allison, was killed in a helicopter crash, July 1993.

8. “He’d have to toast everyone with milk.” — Dale Earnhardt, commenting on the celebratory drink choice Jeff Gordon might make if he ever won the Cup championship. After he won the 1995 Cup title, Gordon followed through, toasting his championship with a glass of milk at the awards banquet.

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9. “You know they say there’s talkers and doers. I’ve done this twice.” — Tony Stewart, winning the pre-race trash-talk contest with Carl Edwards prior to the 2011 race for the championship. Stewart had won the title in 2002 and 2005 and notched another over Edwards in 2011.

10. “This is undoubtedly one of the toughest announcements that I’ve ever personally had to make, but after the accident in Turn 4 of the Daytona 500 we’ve lost Dale Earnhardt.” — NASCAR President Mike Helton, confirming Earnhardt’s death at Daytona International Speedway, Feb. 18, 2001.

Honorable mentions: David Pearson, after being told that Richard Petty had said Pearson was the best driver he ever raced against: “I agree with him.” … CBS broadcaster Ken Squier, calling the famous finish of the 1979 Daytona 500: “And there’s a fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison! The tempers, overflowing. They are angry. They know they have lost. And what a bitter defeat.” … NASCAR founder Bill France, providing a unique ending to a pre-race prayer after temporarily forgetting to use Amen: “Sincerely, Bill France.”

Snowball Derby entry list includes NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, Truck drivers

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Four Cup drivers are among those entered for Sunday’s 55th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

The Cup drivers entered are former series champion Brad Keselowski, playoff competitor William Byron, two-time Southern 500 winner Erik Jones and incoming Cup rookie Noah Gragson, who advanced to the Xfinity title race this year.

Also entered: Josh Berry, who competed in the Xfinity championship race this year, and Ty Majeski, who competed in the Truck championship race this year.

Majeski won the 2020 Snowball Derby. Gragson won the race in 2018. Jones won the event in 2012 and ’13.

Others entered include:

Chandler Smith, who won the 2021 Snowball Derby and will drive for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2023, is listed on the entry list but stated on social media he will not be competing.

The Snowball Derby is among the more prestigious Super Late Model races on the calendar and coming after the NASCAR season makes it easier for more Cup, Xfinity and Truck competitors to take part in the event.

Qualifying takes place Saturday. The Snowball Derby is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET Sunday. Racing America will stream Sunday’s race for $49.99. A three-day viewing pass can be purchased for $74.99.

 

 

An upset for the ages: Jody Ridley’s 1981 victory at Dover

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NASCAR’s history is sprinkled with upsets, from unlikely winners riding the Talladega draft to short tracks that yielded unexpected wins when favored leaders crashed on the final lap.

Survey the list of surprise winners over the decades, and Jody Ridley’s name likely will stand out.

On May 17, 1981, two days shy of his 39th birthday, Ridley won a 500-mile race at Dover Motor Speedway in Delaware. It was the only victory of Ridley’s Cup career and the only win scored by Virginia team owner Junie Donlavey, who participated in the Cup Series for 45 years, with 863 starts.

Donlavey’s team was perpetually underfunded, and his drivers often raced with tired, overused engines and tires that had too many laps. He survived with a mostly volunteer crew and enough sponsorship to carry him from race to race. Rival drivers and team owners considered Donlavey one of the most popular residents of NASCAR garage areas across those many years, but he rarely had the chance to reach for victory lane.

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On that spring day at Dover, one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks, everything fell the right way. Many of the tour’s leading drivers parked with engine or overheating problems, and the day’s best car – the Wood Brothers entry driven by Neil Bonnett — was sidelined with an engine issue late in the race after leading 404 laps.

Ridley, running a steady race, benefited from an unusual day at Dover. The race had only two cautions, and the final 471 laps of 500 were run under green-flag conditions. A general lack of cautions prevented top teams from changing tires frequently, putting Ridley, who was used to running tires longer than normal, on better footing.

When Cale Yarborough left the race with engine trouble 20 laps from the finish, Ridley inherited the lead — he had been two laps down to Yarborough — and led the rest of the way. He won by 22 seconds over Bobby Allison, who was the only other driver on the lead lap. Dale Earnhardt finished third, a lap down. Illustrating the problems experienced by many in the field — not an unusual result in those days — was the fact that the fourth-place driver, D.K. Ulrich, was nine laps off the lead pace.

Ridley drove into Victory Lane for the first time, much to the delight of Donlavey’s crew.

“Junie took it all in stride,” Ridley, now 80, told NBC Sports. “He wasn’t as excited as the team guys were. Junie was the type of guy who didn’t want to cash in on other people’s bad luck. He kind of felt sorry for the guys who blew up. That’s just the way he was.

“For me, it was the highlight of my career. Once I got into Cup racing, I knew we probably wouldn’t do much winning because we didn’t have the equipment. It was icing on the cake to win that one.”

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Jody’s son Anthony, then 22 years old, was listening to the race via radio in Chatsworth, Georgia, where the family lived.

“I was upstairs at my girlfriend’s house, and I think I bounced all over the upstairs and then floated down to the first floor,” Anthony said. “It was all pretty cool. Dad called home. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t get real excited about anything, but he was happy.”

The win paid $22,560. Ridley’s cut from the check (40 percent, generally standard in those days) was $9,024, a nice payday but not Ridley’s biggest in Cup. He would win more for finishing in the top 10 in the Daytona 500.

“We were having a good day,” Ridley said, “but I never thought about winning it. We just didn’t have the cars. But we stayed in the hunt, and the other teams couldn’t get too many new tires, and Junie had put a different gear in the car. Normally he would put in a taller gear and drop the RPMs down (to protect the engine), and you couldn’t keep up. For some reason that day, he didn’t. And it paid off.”

Before joining the Cup tour full time in 1980 at age 37, Ridley had established himself as one of the top short-track drivers in the country. Across the South, at top Eastern Seaboard tracks and into the Midwest, a visit by Ridley usually meant a tough night for the locals.

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Ridley’s older brother, Biddle, and Anthony kept the Ridley short-track cars running.

“We did all that together for 36 years,” said Anthony, who started changing tires during pit stops at the age of 14. “It was how we made a living, but trying to feed three families out of a race car is tough.”

Ridley still lives in Chatsworth, where his 1981 victory was a sports highlight for years.

“He can’t hear well, but he’s still tough as a pine knot,” Anthony said.