For the second straight year, Scott Riggs had cameras and microphones following him into the garage area at Daytona International Speedway. But the situations couldn't be more different.
One year ago, Riggs finished fourth in the Daytona 500. This year, he won't be in the Great American Race.
The 35-year-old from Bahama, N.C., missed out on this year's Daytona 500 when Mike Wallace edged Riggs for 12th place in Thursday's second of the twin qualifying races for Sunday's race.
Riggs was one of 18 drivers who came to Daytona trying to earn one of seven positions. Thirty-five cars were guaranteed spots in the Daytona 500 due to their owner points from last year. Of the remaining eight spots, four would go to the top two finishers in each twin qualifying race and three according to Sunday's qualifying lap speed.
Riggs was 53rd among 55 drivers who completed a qualifying lap Sunday due to a gear failure. The failure to make the race is a huge blow to the third-year driver, who joined Evernham Motorsports this season as a new team -- with no owner points.
"There's nothing negative I can say about anybody on this team," Riggs said. "Everybody put in a great effort. Everybody at Evernham Motorsports gave me what I needed. That's the kind of risk you take when you come down here with no points. I think without the gear failure in qualifying we wouldn't be in this situation. I hate it, but that's racin'."
Todd Bodine qualified the No. 9 iRacing.com Toyota ninth for tonight's 8 p.m. GM FlexFuel 250 Craftsman Trucks race, continuing a run of success for Bodine and the Germain Racing team managed by Lockport native Mike Hillman. Bodine -- along with crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. -- won the last three trucks races of last year.
"This is the ability of this team, and my ability, with the right equipment and the right people and the right financing behind us," said the elder Hillman, who was Bodine's crew chief on a struggling single-car Nextel Cup operation two seasons ago. "Todd and I could run good on the Cup side if we had the financing that Toyota and the Germains have given us to work with. We're headed in that direction. Hopefully, in the next year or two, we'll be back in the Cup garage, with the right support and right equipment.
"We're proving it to ourselves and also to others, and [that] gives us the ability to attract the sponsors that it takes to say, 'Hey look, we can win a lot of truck races, and we can build a Cup program to that level, too.'"
Toyota will begin a Nextel Cup program next season. Hillman says his team is unlikely to make the jump to the Cup next year but is hopeful for 2008.
"I'd like to think we could run 10-12 races next year with them as a partner to us and a good sponsorship behind us," said Hillman, "building our program for 2008."
Bodine had a lap of 176.779 mph (50.911 seconds) while new teammate Ted Musgrave, the defending trucks champion, will start 17th.
"I think we have an opportunity to win the championship," said Bodine. "I think having success is really all about people, and having the right people is the key. We have that with Mike Hillman and Mike Hillman Jr.."
Mark Martin won the pole for the trucks race with a lap of 178.628 mph (50.384 seconds). It will be a very busy weekend for Martin, who will run back-to-back races tonight. Martin drew the pole position for today's 6 p.m. International Race of Champions event, which brings together drivers from several different series. Martin, 47, who is in his final season and has never won the Daytona 500, will start 10th Sunday.
Erin Crocker, whose career was launched when she raced for Eden's Woodring Racing in the World of Outlaws sprint series, qualified 24th (51.451 seconds) in the trucks race. . . . Sterling Marlin will go to a backup car for the Daytona 500 after the only incident of the first qualifying race of Daytona 500, when he plowed into the back of Dale Jarrett during a late caution lap. . . . The top speed at Thursday's Busch practice was Paul Menard's 189.458.