October 5, 2013 – By Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online – Gaffney, S.C. – He came. He saw. He swept.
And Eric Riggins Jr. proudly held the broom in Rockauto.com Victory Lane, symbolic of just how strong he was over the course of the USCS/URC North-South Shootout weekend. After hitting on the fast line around the 3/8ths mile track roughly halfway through the 30-lap main event, the Carolina Kid swept around K&N polesitter Troy Betts on Lap 22, leading the final 9 laps to score his second win of the weekend in Saturday night’s Carolina Thunder Nationals finale race at Cherokee Speedway.
“We’ve been waiting on this kind of speed a long time,” Riggins said proudly in Victory Lane. “My guys nailed it tonight, and I drove the wheels off it to get through the field. Just had to pick them off one by one, but I knew we had a shot at it. Like I said last night, we had to defend our house. And this is how we do it!”
The win was Riggins’ 5th career USCS triumph, and with the URC’s co-sanctioning of the event, second-career URC victory.
Betts, who led the first 21 laps of the contest from the pole, was looking to score a win for the northern-based URC RISLONE Sprint Series against the southern USCS competitors, but ultimately had to settle for second after his car began to overheat in the closing stages of the event.
“We just started losing some speed there at the end when the motor started getting hot,” a disappointed Betts said following the event. “The 47 (of Riggins) was really fast, and I knew when it started laying down that we wouldn’t be able to hold him. Strong run, but it’s tough to swallow. I wanted that first career win really bad.”
URC veteran J.J. Grasso followed the two leaders to the line and completed the podium. While he didn’t score a victory on the Carolina weekend, he did accrue enough points to clinch the 2013 URC RISLONE Sprint Series Championship with one race remaining in the 2013 URC schedule. The title is Grasso’s second-career series crown, following his 2009 championship effort.
“This is really special,” Grasso said in Rockauto.com Victory Lane as he celebrated his team’s season-long effort. “To come down here and run as well as we did; we were in contention all weekend, but it really means a lot to me to pull this off again. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year, but this up certainly makes all of our hard work worth it.”
Grasso’s Eldreth Construction #25 was a team car to the #73 of Kramer Williamson, who lost his life in a heat race crash at a URC event back in June at Lincoln Speedway. When asked what this title meant to the team, Grasso smiled, emotion evident in his voice.
“This title means the world to this team,” the Delaware native said emphatically. “They’ve endured so much this season; they deserve this chance to celebrate. And Kramer, I know he’s looking down smiling tonight. This is one of the last cars he ever built for us. We had an angel riding with us this weekend, and this one’s for him.”
URC veterans Josh Weller and Billy Pauch Jr. completed the top five finishers. USCS points leader Derek Hagar finished seventh, one spot ahead of his championship rival Terry Gray, who ran second for most of the event before having a wing brace fail late in the going.
The event was slowed six times by caution, including two red flag periods for flips by URC driver Randy West and Florida driver Tony Agin.
Josh Weller kicked of the evening’s action by winning the Hoosier Speed Dash. Johnny Bridges won the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat, while Troy Betts won the Butlerbuilt Second Heat. Dan Mazy won the Rockauto.com Third Heat. Robbie Stillwagon scored the win in the 12-lap KSE Racing Products Last Chance Showdown. USCS Rookie of the Year contender Taylor Tidmore from Hernando, Mississippi, who started 23rd in the main event, advanced the most positions (10 places) to earn the Wilwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award.
The next event for the USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour presented by K&N Filters will be on Saturday night (10/12) at Poplar Bluff Speedway in Poplar Bluff, Missouri during the 13th annual Cotton Bowl Cup (formerly held at Malden Speedway). For directions and info on the track go to www.poplarbluffspeedway.net.
The season finale for the URC RISLONE Sprint Series will be held at Grandview Speedway on October 19th, with racing beginning at 6 PM local time.
For rules, schedules and other info on the USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour please visit www.uscsracing.com or call 770-460-7223 or 865-6097.
For more information on the United Racing Company RISLONE Sprint Series, now in its 66th season of competition, visit urcsprints.com to find out more.
Photo Credit: Zack Kloosterman
Results – USCS/URC North-South Shootout at Cherokee Speedway – Satuday, October 5, 2013
Hoosier Speed Dash: Josh Weller, Eric Riggins, Billy Pauch, Jr., Morgan Turpen, Jonathan Swanson and J.J. Grasso
Engler Machine and Tool First Heat: Johnny Bridges
Butlerbuilt Second Heat: Troy Betts
Rockauto.com Third Heat: Dan Mazy
KSE Racing Products Last Chance Showdown: Robbie Stillwagon
USCS/URC North-South Shootout Main Event – Cherokee Speedway – Oct. 5, 2013 – 30 laps
1. 47 Eric Riggins, Jr., Charlotte, NC
2. 22 Troy Betts, Newark, DE
3. 25J J.J. Grasso, Middletown, DE
4. 29 Josh Weller, Mertztown, PA
5. 36 Billy Pauch, Jr., Frenchtown, NJ
6. 89 Robbie Stillwaggon, Burlington, NJ
7. 9JR Derek Hagar, Marion, AR
8. 10 Terry Gray, Bartlett, TN
9. X Dan Mazy, Lyons, PA
10. 7 Ed Aikin, Lincoln Univ., PA
11. 43 Terry Witherspoon, Jacksonville, FL
12. 13T Taylor Tidmore, Hernando, MS – Rookie
13. 23 Lance Moss, Cherryville, NC
14. 10M Morgan Turpen, Cordova, TN
15. 38 Tony Agin, Ft. Myers, FL
16. 28 Keith Prutzman, Hamburg, PA
17. 119 Chandler Leiby, Carlisle, PA
18. 07 Johnny Bridges, Cherryville, NC
19. 27 Curt Terrell, Bartlett, TN – Rookie
20. 33 Scott Lutz, Lebanon, PA
21. 117 David Swanson, Hamilton, NJ
22. 25 Ray Bugg, Iuka, MS
23. 74JR J.R. Berry, Fleetwood, PA
24. 56 Randy West, Boyertown, PA
25. 17J Jonathan Swanson, Yardville, NJ
Did not start A-Main
21B Brandon McLain, Indian Trail, NC
67 Jake McLain, Indian Trail, NC
USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour Race Awards:
K&N Filters Pole Award: Troy Betts
K&N Filters Podium (3rd place) Award: J.J. Grasso
Wilwood Disc Brakes Hardcharger Award: Taylor Tidmore
Keizer Aluminum Wheels Top Five Award: Billy Pauch, Jr.
DMI/Bulldog rear Ends top Ten Award: Ed Aikin
Victory Lane Interview with Eric Riggins Jr.:
Interview with 2013 URC RISLONE Sprint Series Champion J.J. Grasso: