October 4, 2013 – By Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online – Gastonia, N.C. – They don’t call him the Carolina Kid for nothing.
And Eric Riggins Jr. certainly lived up to his nickname Friday night at Carolina Speedway as the United Racing Company RISLONE Sprint Series invaded the Southeast from north of the Mason-Dixon Line to take on the United Sprint Car Series in the first round of the North-South Shootout, part of the 5th Annual Carolina Thunder Sprint Car Nationals. 31 cars rolled onto the grounds to tackle the 4/10ths-mile red clay bullring in North Carolina, and Riggins held off every one of them to claim victory in his backyard.
The 18-year-old Charlotte, NC, native and 2010 USCS Southern Thunder Rookie of the Year passed veteran USCS driver and K&N Pole Award winner Johnny Bridges in a daring three-wide maneuver on Lap 11 of the 30 lap contest and never looked back en route to his third career win at Carolina Speedway and fourth career USCS triumph. Due to the USCS/URC co-sanctioning of this year’s Carolina Thunder Nationals, the win will also be credited as Riggins’ first-career URC victory.
“This is our house again!” a jubilant Riggins exclaimed in Rockauto.com Victory Lane following his victory celebration, which included climbing the fence in front of his hometown crowd. “Johnny had the best car at the start of the race, but our car came in after a few laps and we just had a rocketship. I knew I could work traffic better than he could, and when I saw the hole up the middle, I knew I had to go for it.”
Josh Weller, in second place in the URC championship coming into the combo weekend, chased Riggins over the final 16 laps following a caution just prior to halfway, but had nothing for the Fast 47 in the closing laps.
“Man, we gave it everything we had,” Weller said as he gestured to the crumpled nose wing on the front of his red #29. Even with a damaged race car, to come home second, it’s a good night. (Eric) was fast, for sure. We didn’t have anything for him at the end.”
URC National championship leader JJ Grasso, Billy Pauch Jr. (URC) and female hot-shoe Morgan Turpen (USCS) rounded out the top five finishers. Turpen earned the Willwood Hard Charger Award for the night after racing her way into the feature through the 12-lap KSE Racing Products Last Chance Showdown, advancing from 15th to 5th in the 30-lap A-main.
The feature was slowed three times by caution in the main event, most notably for a violent flip by URC driver Randy West on the front straightaway. West walked away uninjured from the crash. Derek Hagar, the USCS National points leader, was also out early, bringing out the first caution after he broke the rear axle on his Dynotech-sponsored 9JR machine.
Hagar’s night was not all bad, however; as he kicked off the evening’s action by winning the Hoosier Speed Dash. Eric Riggins won the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat. J.J. Grasso won the Butlerbuilt Second Heat. Billy Pauch, Jr. won the rockauto.com Third Heat and Chandler Leiby won the Schoenfeld Headers Fourth Heat Race.
For rules, schedules and other info on the USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour winged sprint car series 2013 National tour, visit www.uscsracing.com or call 770-460-7223 or 865-6097.
For more info on the United Racing Company RISLONE Sprint Series, now in it’s 66th season of competition, visit urcsprints.com.
Photo Credit: Chris Seelman Photography
Results – USCS/URC North-South Shootout at Carolina Speedway – Friday, October 4, 2013
Hoosier Speed Dash: Derek Hagar, Terry Gray, Ray Bugg, Curt Terrell and Taylor Tidmore.
Engler Machine and Tool First Heat: Eric Riggins, Jr.
Butlerbuilt Second Heat: JJ Grasso
www.rockauto.com Third Heat: Billy Pauch, Jr.
Schoenfeld Headers Fourth Heat: Chandler Leiby
KSE Racing Products B-Main: Morgan Turpen
USCS/URC North-South Shootout Main Event 30-laps
1. 47 Eric Riggins, Jr., Charlotte, NC
2. 29 Josh Weller, Mertztown, PA
3. 25J JJ Grasso, Middletown, DE
4. 36 Billy Pauch, Jr., Ffrenchtown, NJ
5. 10m Morgan Turpen, Oakland, TN
6. 17J Jonathan Swanson, Yardville, NJ
7. 28 Keith Prutzman, Hamburg, PA
8. 10 Terry Gray, Bartlett, TN
9. 22 Troy Betts, Newark, DE
10. X Dan Mazy, Lyons, PA
11. 43 Terry Witherspoon, Jacksonville, FL
12. 27 Curt Terrell, Bartlett, TN
13. 119 Chandler Leiby, Carlisle, PA
14. 13T Taylor Tidmore, Hernando, MS
15. 33 Scott Lutz, Lebanon, PA
16. 38 Tony Agin, Ft. Myers, FL
17. 74JR J.R. Berry, Fleetwood, PA
18. 07 Johnny Bridges, Cherryville, NC
19. 7 Ed Aikin, Lincoln Univ., PA
20. 25 Ray Bugg, Iuka, MS
21. 117 David Swanson, Hamilton, NJ
22. 59 Johnny Petrozelle, Denton, NC
23. 56 Randy West, Boyertown, PA
24. 9JR Derek Hagar, Marion, AR
Did not start A-Main
12 Darren Hasty, Indian Trail, NC
89 Robbie Stillwaggon, Burlington, NJ
23 Lance Moss, Cherryville, NC
77 Mike Lerras, Kernersville, NC
11 Don Blaney, Harrisburg, NC
83 Bob Auld, Largo, FL
21B Brandon McLain, Indian Trail, NC
USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour Race Awards:
K&N Filters Pole Award: 07 Johnny Bridges
K&N Filters Podium (3rd place) Award: 25J JJ Grasso
Wilwood Disc Brakes Hardcharger Award: 10M Morgan Turpen
Keizer Aluminum Wheels Top Five Award: 10M Morgan Turpen
DMI/Bulldog rear Ends top Ten Award: X Dan Mazy
Interview with race winner Eric Riggins Jr.:
Interview with runner-up Josh Weller:
Interview with third place J.J. Grasso:
Interview with USCS National Points Leader Derek Hagar (by pit road reporter Tom Baker):