What drivers said after Saturday’s Cup race at Dover

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Denny Hamlin – Winner: “I’ve been running down the leaders these last few weeks, but I haven’t been able to get there. We just didn’t control that restart there and we just had to battle back. We had to go back and get it. I was able to work the top line there a little bit to get the momentum. It looked like our car was just a little bit better at moving around to different lines. Proud of this whole FedEx Office team. This Camry was fast today. It was just unbelievable how good it was. The pit crew did an amazing job. Have to thank all the partners – Toyota, Coca-Cola, the Jordan Brand, FedEx and all the employees, I appreciate them. Win 43, this is pretty awesome.”

(What does it mean to finally win at Dover after 29 starts?) “People always ask what your least favorite track is and I say Dover just because I’m not that good. I love the track, I just haven’t been very good here. We just have unbelievable cars right now. It seems like we’re coming to the race track prepared. I’m putting the work in and we’re getting results out of it.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished 2nd: “Really, I think if the 10 (Aric Almirola) car just wasn’t pinning on the bottom in front of me I would have been fine. Every time I tried to move up and get some air on my car, he would just slide up in front of me like an idiot. He’s the reason we lost the lead, but in the end we just weren’t good enough. I thought the 11 (Denny Hamlin) was better than us all day long. We got the lead there in the pits and was able to use clean air to our advantage. I was never happy with the car all day long. The SiriusXM Camry was fast, but the balance was all over the place. It was firing off tight and getting loose on long runs. At the end, just nothing I could do. It was out of control, sideways.”

Kyle Busch – finished 3rd: Top-three – the Interstate Batteries Camry was strong there. I was following (Martin) Truex Jr. there for a little while on that last restart and we kept fading. Kept fading loose and then we came in for our final pit stop and the damn car went four numbers tight. Just crazy. The flip-flop of balance that we had, it was so bad. I don’t think we changed a whole lot. I have to get with Adam (Stevens, crew chief) on that, but overall, we got really good there the previous time we put tires on under green and I was driving through a few people and getting to the front. I was optimistic about putting tires on it and going, but then it just went stupid tight. I don’t know. Thanks to Interstate Batteries, M&M’s – it’s good to get a solid top three. Hopefully, we can make a few changes tonight. We were close. We had some speed so try to work on it.”

Kevin Harvick – finished 4th: “I wasn’t very good all day. Overall, our Mobil 1 Mustang just never would turn and then we got it so it wouldn’t turn and too loose.  We had trouble on pit road and had to come back in at one point, but everybody kept battling and doing everything that they could and wound up with a top five.”

Chase Elliott – finished 5th: “I think we had a decent Mountain Dew Chevrolet. We were off there to start and then had to take some extra time on pit road. Luckily, we got it close after we messed with it a good bit and made some adjustments, which helped. I was proud to be able to drive from the back, back to the front. We had some really good pit stops that put us in a decent position there too. I think we just needed a little more to run with Denny (Hamlin), Kevin (Harvick) and those guys so we will try to get a little better for tomorrow.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 6th: “Our No. 14 Haas Automation Ford was great right up there until the final 40 laps or so, but we did what we needed to do today. We put some stage points up on the board and got a good finish. We are getting better each week and this is a great time of the year to do that. That was a lot of fun. Let’s do this again tomorrow!”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 7th: “Solid day for this Ally Chevy team, we have some work to do but we will go to work tonight and get it right. Everyone did a great job, we have something to build on tonight and we will come back tomorrow and have something left for them. Bittersweet day tomorrow for me – my final Dover race.”

Joey Logano – finished 8th: “We had a top-10 day with the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. The pit crew did a great job maintaining or gaining positions on pit road. Track position was pretty important. We fought a little too free at times and lost a little center turn when we adjusted on that. The good news is that we’ve got another race tomorrow and we can adjust on the car tonight and hopefully find a little more speed to battle in the top-five and for a win.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 9th: “It was a decent day. Nothing to write home about, but not bad. We kind of ran solidly in the top 10 all day. We had a really good restart there in the first stage and got us third in stage one and then was just kind of okay from there. We took a little shot at running long in stage two hoping for a yellow and didn’t get it — part of the deal, just trying and ended up ninth. There’s not a lot to say other than that. The Gibbs cars were pretty much lights-out faster than everybody and we did the best we could to get what we had out of our day.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 10th: “That was a fun race in our No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet to mark off another top-10 finish. We were really tight at the start of the race, but Brian Pattie made some really good adjustments throughout the race to help us get faster and faster. Our cars this year have been some of the best I’ve had in my career, and this gives us a lot of confidence heading into tomorrow’s race. We learned a lot today and I’m excited for tomorrow to continue tuning this up tonight and have an even better day tomorrow at Dover.”

Cole Custer – finished 11th: “Good rebound from last week. I think we have something to lean on for tomorrow. We can make this car better and have an even better day tomorrow.”

Erik Jones – finished 12th: First off, I want to apologize to Kurt (Busch) and the whole 1 team. I got into him on lap 1 or 2. That’s my mistake. I got tight and it ended their day really quick. I feel bad. I’ve raced with Kurt now awhile, and we have never had an issue and raced really well, so I want to say sorry to him first. Our day was kind of tough from then on, we had to cut the left rear quarter-panel off after that and I think that hurt our balance a little bit. I mean, it’s not like night or day, but it definitely didn’t help. The DeWalt Camry went back and forth. It was mostly loose all day. We tightened it up, but never seemed to be able to make a difference on it. Hopefully, we can use the same car and come back tomorrow.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 13th: “Today was a good start to our doubleheader weekend at Dover International Speedway. Our No. 8 Cat App Chevrolet was fast from the start and just needed some tweaking on handling. The track built really tight at first today, but changed over the course of the race. I struggled with being too loose in the rear of our Camaro for the second half of today, which prevented me from trying a couple different lines on the track, so that’s something we’ll need to adjust on for tomorrow’s race. But the good news is we get a second shot to finish even better tomorrow and we definitely have a solid Cat App Chevrolet to work with. This is the best start to a doubleheader weekend that we’ve had this year, so I’m looking forward to getting back after it tomorrow.”

Austin Dillon – finished 15th: “We had a fast Dow Coatings Chevrolet today and it felt good to race at Dover International Speedway with plenty of speed. We just need to work on the handling a little. I feel like I covered every inch of this place, experimenting and looking for the best line around the track for our tight-handling condition. We opted to stay out for the competition caution in Stage 1 and our gamble paid off with the race lead. Clean air was everything. We had a commanding lead early in Stage 1 but I just got too tight to hold the lead for the end of the stage. When we pitted at the end of Stage 2, we were issued a speeding penalty and had to restart at the tail end of the longest line. That mistake is on me. We ran long before pitting at the end of the race but a caution didn’t fall the way we hoped it would and we ended up finishing 15th.

Aric Almirola – finished 17th: “We had good speed in our Smithfield Ford Mustang today. A loose wheel put us behind and, without any cautions in the last stage, we had no way to get back on the lead lap. I think we could have been contenders today, but we’ll get back to it tomorrow with a good car and hope for a clean day.”

Ty Dillon – finished 18th: “My GEICO-Germain Racing guys did a good job today and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race. Dover is a very physically demanding track. I’ve been working really hard on my physical shape this season, so I’m excited to put it to the test. We have been really strong in the doubleheaders this season. The Sunday races have been our stronger race each time, which we will try to do again. We came out of the gate strong today and will look to translate that momentum into another solid finish tomorrow.”

Alex Bowman – finished 21st: “This isn’t how we wanted to start off the doubleheader weekend. Getting that damage early on really affected how our car handled. The guys did all they could on pit road, but we were playing the cards we were dealt. Not the first outing we wanted for Acronis, but we will make adjustments and changes tonight and be prepared for tomorrow’s race.”

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 24th: “It was a tough day for our No. 38 ACME Markets team. We didn’t roll off the way we wanted to, so it was an uphill battle for most of the race. I didn’t have a whole lot of grip going through the corner, so the front tires kept sliding, which obviously hurts your momentum. We’ve made notes for what to work on tomorrow and that’s the nice thing about these doubleheader weekends – you get another chance to improve. We’ll shake it off overnight and come back ready tomorrow.”

Michael McDowell – finished 26th: “There may have been 10 or 12 guys who had really good speed. You didn’t see a ton of cars on the lead lap even in a short race. We had good speed, but it was tough to pass for everyone. So, we just had to work track position and strategy. We’ll have to do the same tomorrow. But, I think we can take some notes to get some good adjustments into the Digital Ally Shield Cleanser Ford Mustang. We’ll need to have a good start and just grind to stay up there. We’re close, the result doesn’t show it, but I think we can have a good run on Sunday with just a few adjustments.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 28th: “Not the best effort today for our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 DoorDash Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE team. I thought we were going to have a decent day, and then we kind of lost it the second-half of the race. We lost the handling on our Chevrolet Camaro and just could not really gain it back. Our DoorDash team tried to pull some strategy to salvage a decent day and it did not go our way. We have another shot at it tomorrow with our partner Columbia for their first race, so we are excited about that. Dover (International Speedway) is one of the best tracks we go to. We still have a lot of work to do. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Daniel Suarez – finished 30th: “I thought we were going to be pretty decent in the beginning. The first set of changes we made seemed to have us going in the right direction. Our CommScope Toyota was actually good on the first 20 laps of that run. But then the changes we made on our next couple of stops ended up taking us in the wrong direction. The track ended up changing quite a bit, so it turned out to be a frustrating day. We need to give everything a close look and go to work making the changes we need to bring a better car for Sunday. We just need to keep working hard.”

Kurt Busch – finished 40th: “What an unfortunate way to have our day end on Lap 6. Way too early to be racing like that. We didn’t even have a chance to get a feel for the car. Just disappointing for all of the guys that work so hard, especially on the doubleheader weekends like this. Hopefully we can turn our luck around tomorrow and have a strong run for the GEARWRENCH Chevy”.

Check back for more.

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.

MORE: Five laps that impacted Cup season

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.