Last season, Indianapolis Raceway Park served as the venue in which up-and-coming driver Layne Riggs would make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut. Now, one year later, that same short track is the site of his first-ever top-five, a third-place finish.
The path to get to this point hasn’t been simple, though. After showing immense speed in his second and third starts at Richmond and Phoenix last year, many expected to see Riggs in an expanded capacity for 2023. That hasn’t been the case.
Now, there’s nobody questioning the ability of Riggs, who has since been tapped by Kevin Harvick Incorporated to pilot its entry in the CARS Late Model Tour – it’s quite obvious he deserves to be in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, as he reiterated post-race. However, it really comes down to just one thing:
“It’s huge. I feel like this proves it, I deserve to be here every weekend,” Riggs told FS1 after the event. “I love truck racing. I love NASCAR racing. I just want to do it more, it’s a rare occurrence when I can do this.”
Thus far in 2023, Riggs has matched his three starts from last season, albeit with three different organizations. At Atlanta, a one-off with TRICON Garage was hindered by an accident in the early portion of the race, resulting in a 28th-place finish. Riggs would meet a similar fate in his second start of the year at Nashville with Young’s Motorsports.
Then came the opportunity to partner with Spire Motorsports in Friday’s T-Sport 200, an organization that has claimed victories with NASCAR Cup Series drivers in each of the last two seasons, including the series’ return to North Wilkesboro in May with Kyle Larson.
With sponsorship help from Infinity Communications, Kevin “Bono” Manion was able to get the No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado dialed in for Friday’s 200-lapper at Indianapolis Raceway Park, with Riggs showing solid speed from the start of practice.
Picking up a 12th-place qualifying effort, Riggs would spend the first 60 laps of the race methodically working his way through the pack, getting inside the top five prior to the end of the race’s first stage.
However, things took a turn for the worse on the first pit stop, after a mistake-filled pit stop dropped him nine positions on-track, placing him outside the top-15 and in the hornet’s nest, where oftentimes in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, danger is brewing.
Thus began the ascent back to the front of the pack, as the CARS Late Model Tour winner clawed his way back inside the top-10 by the end of the second stage, putting himself in a much better position to contend for a top-five result.
By virtue of making the right lane choice on restarts, and a great-handling No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado, Riggs was able to quickly get himself back into the top five for the final 60-lap run of the event.
The Bahama, North Carolina native would maintain the major position gained on the second-to-last restart, eventually taking off and showing his long-run speed, while the drivers around him began to fade, getting him into third place.
In the closing laps of the event, it even looked as though Riggs had a chance to pick up second, but came up just short. Regardless, it was a much-needed finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series that should get the name Layne Riggs more mainstream.
“It was a really good truck tonight, first pit stop we kind of messed up, and we made some adjustments to try and help it and it kind of hurt it and back in dirty air,” Riggs said about his truck post-race. “That last stage where we had to make all our hay, and we got up to fourth pretty quick, I think in two or three laps, and I was like man, we got a shot at it, so thank you so much to everybody, I hope I can be at one soon.”
According to Riggs, he’s unsure if he’ll get the opportunity to compete in another NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event this season, but he hopes to find a way to put together the necessary funding to compete full-time in 2024.
Regardless, as he told FOX Sports’ Amanda Busick on Friday off-camera: I really need this interview. Now the question remains, were the right people listening, and could it lead to a championship run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for 2024?