2007 Ride: No. 10 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge
2007 Primary Sponsor: Stanley Proto Tools/Valvoline
2007 Owner: James Rocco/Valvoline Evernham Racing
Stats: 27 races, zero wins, zero top fives, one top 10, 36th in points.
High Point: While later in the season, qualifying would become an issue for the No. 10 team, Riggs started off the year strong, starting in the top 10 in six of the first 10 races. However, strong finishes didn’t follow other than an eighth-place effort at Martinsville, his lone top-10 finish of the season. A small consolation was the fact that he ended his tenure at Gillett Evernham Motorsports with three top-20 finishes in his last five starts.
Low Point: Riggs ended the 2006 season 20th in points, giving him a “free pass” into the first five races of the season. Solid qualifying runs in the first 10 races meant he didn’t have to rely on being in the Top 35 in owner points to make those races, but with over half of those being finishes 30th or worse, Riggs sat 36th in points when the series hit Darlington. Unfortunately, his qualifying luck ran out, and Riggs missed his first of what would be nine races that week.
Summary: As a whole, GEM had a tough 2007, but no one had it worse than Riggs. After making all but one race in 2006, and finishing 20th in the points, all signs pointed to more success. But it wasn’t to be. He hit his peak early at Martinsville in the sixth race of the season; after that, it all started to unravel, as he failed to earn a top-10 finish and started a string of DNQs, beginning at Darlington that May. As 2007 started to wind down and “Silly Season” picked up, Riggs made the announcement that he would be moving to Haas CNC Racing in 2008, taking over for the No. 70 as a teammate to Jeremy Mayfield. Shortly thereafter, Evernham decided to get a jump on the 2008 season by putting Patrick Carpentier in the No. 10 for the final two races of the 2007 season, giving Riggs a little longer “off-season” than most of his competitors.
2008 Outlook: After two years in Ray Evernham’s stable, Riggs is looking for a new start by moving to the Haas CNC Racing No. 70 Chevrolet, taking over from Johnny Sauter. Sauter and the No. 70 finished the 2007 season 33rd in points, which guarantees Riggs a place in the starting lineup for the first five races of the season. Hopefully, Riggs and his new team can gel rather quickly and not lose much ground.
If so, Riggs might enjoy a rather successful season, compared to the last couple. Haas CNC Racing has had their struggles in recent years, but with former drivers Sauter and Jeff Green, they showed some promise. Making driver changes to both team cars in the same season could mean a bit of a struggle for Riggs at first – while they all get used to each working with each other – but maybe a fresh start for both team and driver could be what they need to be successful.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: B
2007 Grade: D
Editor’s Note: The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close – which means it’s time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley. Be sure to keep coming in every weekday this offseason for even more original content on Frontstretch!