Peyton Sellers and Layne RIggs
Peyton Sellers, 26, and Layne Riggs, 99 (Photo: Dinah Marie Photography)

Peyton Sellers, Layne Riggs set for Weekly Series national championship bout at Dominion Raceway

Last weekend was a perfect encapsulation of the season-long title fight between Peyton Sellers and Layne Riggs.

Separated by just four points in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national championship standings, Riggs and Sellers each took a victory in Dominion Raceway’s twin-60 lap Late Model Stock features, with Riggs adding another win in a 16-car field at Wake County Speedway on Friday evening to help cushion his small advantage.

Dominion on Saturday will serve as the final chapter of the intense-but-respectful duel between the two competitors as Sellers looks to claim his third Weekly Series national title. Riggs is in his first season competing for national points.

Even though Sellers has 11 victories at Dominion this year compared to the three claimed by Riggs thus far, the defending champion expects a significant challenge from the young Bahama, North Carolina, native on Saturday. Sellers plans to ensure his No. 26 Clarence’s Steakhouse Toyota is strong enough to bring home two more victories and a national title.

“We had a first and a third at Dominion [last] Saturday,” Sellers said. “We’re in contention every week, and that’s all we can ask for, but Layne and his guys are good. They capitalize every single time we have a fault, so right now we have to get our car the best that we can.”

RELATED: Current NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series standings

The backgrounds of Sellers and Riggs carry an equal number of similarities and differences.

Both were inspired to get into racing by their fathers. Sellers spent most of his childhood around his dad Burt as he worked on cars. Layne’s father Scott Riggs had already won five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events by the time he was born in 2002.

As Scott progressed into the NASCAR Cup Series, Sellers had already developed a reputation as one of the best Late Model Stock competitors along the East Coast. A stellar 2005 campaign that saw Sellers win 14 of his 16 appearances at South Boston Speedway was enough for him to claim the track title and his first Weekly Series national championship.

Over the following years, Sellers would take his talents all over the United States. He won races for Andy Santerre and Bill McAnally in what’s now the ARCA Menards Series East and West, respectively, while also making appearances in the Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Although a full-time career in the Cup Series did not work out for Sellers, he still possesses a tremendous passion for short-track racing in Virginia. He said logging so many laps in different types of cars has prepared him for stressful situations like his impending title bout with Riggs.

“I’ve been fortunate to drive a lot of things,” Sellers said. “I’ve managed to stay safe and healthy doing what I love, but driving so many different cars has given me a lot of experience to rely on, especially for these points moments where you’re trying to do everything right.

“Championships are won over a whole year, and I feel like I can handle the pressure.”

Peyton Sellers talks with crew during a Weekly Series race at Dominion Raceway on September 18, 2021. (Parker Michels-Boyce/NASCAR)

RELATED: Peyton Sellers’ career stats

Just over a year after Sellers made his final Xfinity Series start to date, Riggs began to develop his reputation as an emerging talent in Late Model Stock competition.

Despite having just turned 20, Riggs has already put together a stellar resume that includes winning the prestigious Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway and claiming the 2022 South Boston track championship over Sellers just a couple weeks ago.

Holding his own at South Boston against Sellers, who has five championships at the track, is something Riggs knows would not have been possible without six years of touring experience that helped him perfect his race craft.

“Going to all these different tracks and racing against the best of the best every weekend has translated over to the weekly stuff,” Riggs said. “Josh Berry, Lee Pulliam, Deac McCaskill, Bobby McCarty and many more have taught me so much over the years. I drove over my head at times as a rookie, but I’ve matured by being more patient and staying confident behind the wheel.”

All of Riggs’ success in Late Model Stocks has come while driving for his small, family-owned operation that primarily relies on volunteer help.

Now that Riggs is attending classes at UNC Charlotte again, Scott is back to solely overseeing the preparation of the cars that he will be racing this weekend. Riggs described the logistics as frustrating and mentally draining, but he expressed his gratitude toward Scott and everyone that has helped him stay competitive every weekend.

Without the countless hours of hard work in the shop, Riggs said he would be nowhere close to chasing a Weekly Series title, adding that traveling around has required him to quickly adapt to each track’s rules and its group of Late Model Stock competitors.

“It’s been a learning curve for sure racing weekly stuff as opposed to touring with the same people,” Riggs said. “You have to learn each track individually, and that’s something Peyton has successfully figured out. We’ve come in with hardly any weekly racing experience, yet we’ve proven that we’re a dominant team.”

Throughout his debut Weekly Series campaign, Riggs has gained a tremendous amount of respect for Sellers and his ability to perfectly execute at South Boston and Dominion, which is why he knows he can not pull any punches if he wants to bring home a national title.

As he did during the previous weekend, Riggs intends to get a race in on Friday before making the trip to Dominion on the following day. He said this decision is a difficult one financially but stressed that he needs to be as far out front of Sellers as feasibly possible by the time the first green flag at Dominion flies.

Riggs plans to come away from the 2022 season with plenty of positive memories regardless of how the title fight with Sellers turns out, but he believes a Weekly Series championship could be the boost that he needs to progress through the NASCAR developmental ladder.

“I believe I’ll be the youngest national champion so far if I pull this off,” Riggs said. “This would be perfect for my resume, but it also proves that I’ve perfected myself at the Late Model level. Having those two good Truck Series runs at IRP and Richmond also proves that I’m a seasoned veteran, and I certainly deserve the opportunity to hopefully run full-time in a truck next year.”

Layne Riggs (right) discusses adjustments to his car with his father Scott Riggs (left) during a break in practice at a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series event in 2022 at South Boston Speedway. (Joe Chandler/South Boston Speedway)

RELATED: Layne Riggs’ career stats

Sellers’ respect for the Riggs family dates back to when he and Scott would occasionally cross paths on track in their careers. He has been pleased with the way the younger Riggs has raced him all season long and hopes the status quo remains in place at Dominion on Saturday.

The high speeds of Dominion have always suited Sellers’ driving style, but he said the track has started to lose grip as the pavement ages, which in turn is motivating Sellers to place heavy emphasis on making sure his car turns well and has solid drive.

Even if Sellers comes up short of another Weekly Series title, he does not plan to linger on the defeat long. He is proud of the effort he, his family and crew have put in all year and knows there will still be plenty of opportunities to win in 2022 after the checkered flag on Saturday.

“We’ve had a good year,” Sellers said. “Anytime you can win 15 races, it’s been an amazing year. Win, lose or draw on Saturday night, I’m going to wake up Sunday, give all the credit to the good Lord and enjoy everything for what it is. I’m going to fight tooth and nails to try and win this thing, but we’ll take the outcome in stride and keep moving.”

Even though they are nearly 20 years apart in age, both Sellers and Riggs have utilized their respective experience to separate themselves from all other weekly competitors and build their own cases for the national title.

The two races at Dominion on Saturday present one last chance for Sellers and Riggs to capitalize on their stellar seasons and cement themselves as the best short track competitor in the United States.