What drivers said after Dover

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Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s Cup race at Dover International Speedway:

Alex Bowman — Winner: “We won Richmond (Raceway) and then had a really rough couple of weeks there. We went to some really good racetracks for us and struggled. I told the guys last week, ‘We’re still the same team that did it at Richmond’. This is another really good place for us. I’m just so pumped for Ally. It feels right to put the 48 back in victory lane here after how many races that this car has won here. Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) is here. I don’t think I’ve won with him here before, so that’s really cool. Just so proud of this pit crew.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 2nd: “I honestly don’t know if there was anything I could have done differently to win the race after we came out second on pit road. I would choose the top behind him, get to second every time. Maybe I could have chose the bottom on restart, but I still don’t think I would have stayed with him till he was inside or anything like that. Probably would have fell back to third or so. I feel like we maximized our day. We were all so equal. I think any of the four of us could have been out in the lead. That person probably would have won. Just, yeah, we were all equal. Their pit crew did an awesome job. Our pit crew has been amazing all year, too. Like I said, I’m not disappointed or upset about this second because I feel like there wasn’t anything else I could do.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 3rd: “I really felt like we were pretty close, balance-wise. It was just kind of a matter of how your restart went and where you fell in line, unfortunately for us. But I’m happy for Hendrick Motorsports. I don’t know when the last time that finish has happened. It’s probably been a while for any team. … Just proud of our whole team. Everybody, HMS, I feel like we have a really talented group of people that work really hard. It’s just nice to see their hard work awarded like that, in that manner, in that type of domination. Those guys led, I guess Kyle and Alex, pretty much led the whole race. Really cool. Just really proud of everybody. Glad to be a part of the team.”

William Byron — Finished 4th: “Yeah, that was awesome. For us to finish 1-2-3-4 is just a credit to a lot of great people at the shop, Chevrolet, Axalta, and all the people that support us to get us the resources; and then our teams, the crew chiefs, drivers and pit crews executing really good races. For us, it’s been going for a while. We’ve just got to get a little bit. It sucks to be fourth, but I think we’re close. We just have to work on some things on our car, get the right feels, but we’re getting really close. So, we keep chipping away. We’ve had two fourth-place finishes in a row. We’ll take it and move on.”

Joey Logano — Finished 5th: “A little bit too late. We had some debris go through the grille early in the race, so we were pretty good beforehand and then knocked a big hole in the nose and that’s why the turn went away, so it took a while to repair that and get everything to where it needed to be and we didn’t really get that until the last run and it’s a rocketship. The Shell/Pennzoil Mustang was really fast. I was able to drive from I think it was 16th to fifth in that last run there and had the 24 in the old sights, but didn’t get there in time. Overall, very proud of the team and their recovery today. We definitely got dealt some adversity and we made the most of it. I wish it was a win. I wish we maybe could have raced those guys, but, overall, we’ll take that considering the way it was going.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 7th: “We probably had a fifth- to sixth-place FedEx Camry. (Kevin) Harvick and I kind of battled to see who was going to be next behind the Hendrick cars. We just thought we would try to get a tire advantage there and we came out ninth and we were really slow on the short run. Our car wasn’t very fast for 20-30 laps. We kind of just held in ninth and another caution came. I thought maybe we should pit to double our tire advantage, but then we would have restarted 15th and again, we weren’t fast on new tires. I just don’t know how it would have turned out any better or worse than seventh, where we ended up.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 8th: “I’m very proud of my No. 8 Cat Linkage Pins Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE team today. We really had to fight hard for our eighth-place finish at Dover, especially after the speeding penalty on pit road after our first stop of the day. Entry seemed to be the biggest issue for us during the first half of the race. I just needed better rotation to get through that portion of both ends of the track quicker. My crew chief, Randall Burnett, and the team did a good job of keeping after the track with our adjustments today and giving me feedback based on our SMT data. We really hit on something towards the end of Stage 2, which allowed me to get up in the top 10 for the start of Stage 3. Track position was key today, even more so than fresh tires for us, so once we got up in the top 10 we did everything we could to stay there, even though that meant staying out and making it a much longer final run for us on tires when those mid-stage cautions came out in Stage 3. It was a battle to hang on during that last run, but it paid off for us today with our fifth top-10 finish in the last seven races.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 9th: “The No. 99 CommScope Chevy Camaro was strong. Most of the race I felt like the entire race we were probably a top-15 car. But, with good adjustments we gained some track position and that gave us the opportunity to finish in the top 10. There is still a lot of work to do, definitely. Right there at the end, I was tight. I was against the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin), the No. 41 (Cole Custer) and all these guys, but we were able to hold them off and get a decent finish. But we have to keep working and win a trophy.”

COLE CUSTER — Finished 10th: “I’m pretty pumped about our top 10 today. That turned out to be a pretty solid finish. It’s been pretty rough, so it feels great to have a solid result and have something to build on. The HaasTooling.com Mustang was best at the end of the race, and that’s always a good feeling. Hats off to Mike (Shiplett, crew chief) and the guys for sticking with it and giving me a good car at the end of the race. I can’t wait for COTA.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 11th: “I thought our balance was good enough to keep us right there at the edge of the lead lap. Cautions definitely felt our way to keep us in the game. That gave us a mental reset, but as the runs went on, we noticed that our speed was top-10 lap times. It’s just so hard to pass and make ground when everybody’s fighting for half-a-tenth to a tenth. It was a good call by (crew chief Mike Wheeler) and the team to keep us out late, and I was able to hang on. I had to fight some guys off to salvage that finish but that is what it takes. You have to stay mentally tough all day long. Everybody’s going to test you. It was a good day for our McDonald’s Toyota team.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 13th: “Such a tough way to end an otherwise strong run for our team. We were able to pass a lot of cars and race from near the back to the top 10 by the beginning of Stage 2. The guys did a nice job on pit road today, we just had an issue with a malfunction on the jack for the final stop. That put us back at the tail-end of the lead lap cars. I hate if for the Yorktel and Caregility folks that were here to watch us race today. There is no quit in this team, so we will move-on and keep digging.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 14th: “Overall, the balance of our RCR Chevy was pretty good to start the race. We found a line at the bottom of the track that worked well, but I was worried about tire wear, so I didn’t move down there until closer to the end of the stage. We were pretty good in Stage 2 but handling was just sort of blah during the middle of the run when cloud cover cooled off the track and caused our Chevy to become freer. It came back to us to end the Stage and we were able to secure a few stage points. At the end of the race, the cloud cover returned and that affected our handling. We just couldn’t keep up with the track. We’ll regroup as a team and head to the Circuit of the Americas next week.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 15th: “Fifteenth. What I would have given a few weeks ago to finish 15th. But today, we showed a lot more promise on this No. 42 Moose Fraternity Chevrolet. We had more speed than that, we just got really tight. The last set of tires, we made no adjustments. We were the best we were all day on our second-to-last run. On that set of tires, we ran a few laps. A caution came out, we did the opposite of the leaders. Didn’t do anything to the car, fired back off tight; very tight. I’m kind of baffled why that was. So, I just kind of had to hold on and not get into anyone’s way too much, and ran 15th there at the end. Man, it did feel good to run up towards tenth. We’ll keep building.”

Erik Jones — Finished 22nd: “Just struggled all day with the Medallion Bank Chevy. Never could get the feel we were looking for. We fought all day to try and bring home a decent finish. Hopefully have some notes to make some changes when we come back again (next year).”

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 24: “We tried to throw some things at our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang going into this weekend, and unfortunately it didn’t work out,” DiBenedetto said, adding that he pushed the ill-handling car as hard as he could without taking undue risks. “We just had to be smart.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 35th: “Obviously not the day we wanted to have. We had been doing really good improving each race, and I felt like we started off pretty good, but I’m not sure what happened. There was no warning and I just lost the right rear just before the stage end. I hate it for these guys. They work so hard. Hopefully we can rebound next week at COTA and get back going in the right direction, just shake it off. We’ll be OK.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 37th: “I’m OK. That was another hard hit. My body is hurting. It doesn’t want to take any more hard hits like that. It’s just such a trying year. I don’t know what exactly happened. I think something in the suspension broke. It wasn’t like a right-front went down. It wasn’t like all of a sudden. A couple laps before that I felt like I was laying on the splitter pretty hard, which is unusual that far into a run, and I kind of mentioned it on the radio and then went down into turn three, the worst possible place — well, there’s no good place at Dover to have a suspension failure or a tire go down — but our guys deserve so much better.”

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.