Scott Riggs admitted he was elated after taking the #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Toyota into the Daytona 500 through the Gatorade Duels.
The team, set up by leading crew chief Tommy Baldwin, went into Speedweeks knowing it needed to get into the 500 either on speed or through the Duels and in a fairytale story, Riggs was able to finish eighth in the opening race to take his place in the field for the big race.
“Man, we're elated,” he said. “We're very happy with all the guys. This is grass-roots right now for us. I mean, you go to the shop, it's a lot of guys are just volunteers, passionate about racing. They're addicted to the racing bug that we all are addicted to. They put their heart and soul into it from faith in Tommy, the whole organisation.
“To be able to scrap something together from a month and a half ago, come here, run good, be pretty strong in the pack, get ourselves in the race, it speaks volumes for us.”
Having earned a place in the race, and 17th on the grid, Riggs will now hope to impress again in the 500 itself but he said the team was very much taking each day as it comes.
“We sort of take every day one day at a time,” he said. “Coming down here this week, the first thing we wanted to do was try to qualify in on time. We didn't do that. The next thing we wanted was to make sure our car drove well and was fast enough to be able to race our way in. Today that's all we concentrated on: making sure we can race our way in. Once we did that today, now we're into tomorrow, thinking about what we need to do adjustment-wise, what things we can do to try to make our car a little better, handle a little bit better, especially when it's in a bigger pack on Sunday.
“I don't know if our expectations have changed. I think that we come to the track every single week now, and we're going to come to the track and try to show speed, show our strength, try to qualify well, be as strong as we can in every practice and every race we're in. I know that I'll probably sleep a lot better just knowing I'm in the show. There's a little bit of anxiety the last couple of days thinking about what our car is going to be like, how it's going to drive, who's going to work with you, who's not.
“It was definitely rewarding today to have, I'm not going to say a rag-tag team, but to have guys that are there because of their love for the sport and the faith in Tommy and each other, to come here and to be able to do, show our strength. I hope we've earned some respect from other guys out there that saw how good our car drove, how good we ran. I hope we can get a little more help Sunday when it comes time to really get paid.”