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Motorsports

Riggs weighs his options to step up

By BRANT JAMES
Published October 2, 2003

Scott Riggs has given himself two weeks to make a major, and enviable, decision. Second in a tight Busch Series points race behind Brian Vickers, the 32-year-old has received "way more than 10" offers to drive in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series next year.

"I still haven't whittled everything down to where I can figure out the most competitive ride and where I feel the most comfortable," Riggs said Wednesday during a trip to Tampa. "I've had a lot of calls about my future and people wanting me to be a part of theirs.

"I'm almost ready to make (the decision) so I can go on and focus on winning a championship."

Contrary to numerous published reports, he said no offer has come from Richard Childress Racing, which fired Steve Park on Tuesday.

"I've not heard from Richard Childress," he said. "I had a great opportunity with them two years ago; he offered me a chance to go Busch racing with him, but it wasn't the best choice for me because it was going to be a rookie team. I felt like as a rookie, going into a new series with an all-rookie team would be more than I could bite off, so I decided to go with (ppc Racing)."

Riggs won the 2002 Busch rookie of the year award and is 32 points behind Vickers with seven races remaining.

RAMMED: Ford Racing Technology announced it had "dissolved its formal association" with Jasper Motorsports after the Winston Cup team used a Dodge for No.77 Dave Blaney last weekend at Talladega.

According to a news release, Ford declared its contract with Jasper "null and void and informed the team that it would repossess all existing Ford assets and discontinue further operational support."

"What happened at Talladega was unacceptable," Greg Specht, manager of Ford Racing Operations, said in the release. "To be a Ford team you have to run a Ford."

Jasper co-owner Mark Harrah said he called Specht before Talladega to inform Ford the team was considering using a Dodge.

He said he was warned it would be a breach of contract, but Harrah said the minimal support Jasper receives from Ford did not outweigh the benefits the team thought it would receive running a Dodge.

"The tangibles stated within the Ford contract were not enough to influence our decision," Harrah said. "We were forced to look out for our sponsor. We took a chance in hopes to run more competitively, and it paid off. It was our best finish at a superspeedway since February 2001."

Blaney finished 17th at Talladega in a Dodge Intrepid.

Jasper can continue to run Fords because the team owns its race cars. But Ford spokesman Kevin Kennedy said the team would receive zero assistance from the automaker.

"They are welcome to run a Taurus, but our engineering guys and aero guys will no longer be available to them," Kennedy said. "If they go up to an aero guy at the track and ask for some help, they will now be turned away."

Ford also is taking back any loaner vehicles Jasper has, such as vans the team has used to transport crew members, the truck that brought race cars to the track and any personal cars the team has.

Kennedy said Ford gave the team formal notification they were in breach of contract last weekend when they pulled out a Dodge at the track.

Blaney has five top-10s this season and is 28th in the points standings. Should he win a race this season in a Taurus, Kennedy said Blaney and his team would not receive any contingency bonus from the manufacturer. Ford also is dropping Blaney from its ads and promotions.

It's not the first time this season a manufacturer has ended its relationship with a team. Dodge Motorsports pulled support from Bill Davis Racing in June, alleging in a lawsuit that Davis had been helping Toyota in its preparation to enter NASCAR next season. Davis has continued running Dodges this year.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

[Last modified October 2, 2003, 02:49:35]


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