Preparations for the 2018 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com are underway. The ballot was recently revealed and sent out to a panel of industry experts to determine the top 51 short track racing prospects in North America.
As we prepare for the draft, we’ll be taking a look at a handful of drivers and providing scouting reports just like you would see ahead of the NFL Draft. These scouting reports will take a look at a driver’s on-track performance, as well as other qualities that may make or break their chances of making it to the top levels of NASCAR.
We continue our round of scouting reports today with a look at Layne Riggs, a Late Model Stock Car driver and the son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Scott Riggs.
Current Level: CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Hometown: Bahama, NC
Last Year’s Draft: Best of the Rest
Highest Pick: Best of the Rest (2017)
Anticipated 2017 Pick: 45th – 51st
The Skinny: The son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitor Scott Riggs, Layne is making his own name in the Late Model Stock Car ranks. 2017 was a breakthrough season for the 15-year-old, his first full season as a “touring” competitor with success to boot. Still early in his touring career for the 2017 Short Track Draft, he was not on many experts’ radars, but his success last year should change that.
Rising, Falling or Holding Steady: Rising
Layne Riggs started touring with more frequency after his 14th birthday during the 2016 season, and he picked up some strong finishes including a pair of top-five performances on the CARS Tour. He built on that success in 2017, finding victory lane against tough competition and competing for a championship.
Unfortunately, his stock has also taken a hit (literally and figuratively) in recent weeks. In the NFL Draft, some players enter the month of April with question marks over their heads due to injuries during the previous season. Riggs has a similar injury concern at present, after breaking his collarbone in an off-weekend dirt bike incident. He is expected to make a speedy recovery, but it will keep him out of the car for now, including this weekend’s CARS Tour event at Orange County Speedway.
On-Track Accomplishments: B+
Riggs scored two CARS Late Model Stock Tour victories in 2017, at Dominion Raceway (VA) and Orange County Speedway (NC). Coincidentally, Riggs out-dueled one of the great veterans of the Late Model Stock ranks, 2016 CARS Late Model Stock Tour champion Deac McCaskill, for both of those wins, displaying poise under pressure.
Because of his strong performances, Riggs contended for the CARS Tour crown, battling with JR Motorsports drivers Josh Berry and Anthony Alfredo for the honor. A mechanical failure ended his title hopes during the final race at South Boston, but his ability to contend with the best Late Model Stock drivers in the Carolinas at such a young age only bodes well.
Riggs has maturity beyond his years, both in and out of the race car. He is well-spoken, a great interview both in triumph and disappointment, and always makes time for fans at the race track. He could stand to put that personality on display more, but hopefully opportunities such as those created by his membership in the CARS Tour “Touring 12” contingency program will give him a larger platform.
Sponsor Appeal: B+
As mentioned above, Riggs is young and personable, which should make him quite a draw as his reputation grows in the short track ranks. He also has the NASCAR pedigree as the son of a former Cup driver and XFINITY Series winner, giving him name recognition.
Social Media: B-
When Riggs posts on social media, it’s candid and “for the fans.” When he broke his collarbone in a dirt bike accident this spring, he used his social media platforms to make the announcement, apologizing to those who had supported him and showing his desire to get back in the race car.
With that said, posting with more frequency on social media would dramatically bolster his appeal to both fans and sponsors and display his personality. Particularly on Twitter, where many drivers give insight to what they do out of the race car, Riggs often duplicates his Facebook posts which are often race recaps. Giving a stronger glimpse into Layne Riggs, the person, would do wonders for his marketability.
First and foremost, heal up. Fortunately, Riggs’ timeline is reportedly in weeks instead of months for his broken collarbone, which means he should be back in the race car in due time. Riggs will be back to competing in the CARS Tour once he has a clean bill of health, which will hopefully prime him to compete in Late Model Stock’s “crown jewel” events such as the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and the Myrtle Beach 400 in the fall. Given that he is no longer in championship contention, a few big wins could boost his stock for next year’s draft.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com