The first year competing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series was a memorable one for Zack Riddle.
Although it wasn’t his first year driving a race car, the 26-year-old Stoughton, Wisconsin, native certainly made his name known throughout the NASCAR world with his performance on the track this season at Madison International Speedway.
Riddle picked up a pair of wins and finished in the top five in all nine starts at Madison this year in a season abbreviated by adverse weather.
“Obviously we had a great year and we were very consistent throughout the entire season,” Riddle said. “We never really thought about points much until this year when we realized we had a chance to win a NASCAR title.”
Riddle, who works full-time as a crane operator in construction, started racing go-karts over a decade ago and then decided to make the switch to late models about eight years ago.
Riddle has always won a lot of races in anything he drove, but he realized this season that points racing wasn’t the same as going after a win every time out.
“We had a strong year but we probably cost ourselves a couple of wins because we concentrated on the points standings and we wanted to win our first NASCAR championship,” Riddle said. “It was worth it though.”
The 2015 season was the first that Madison International Speedway competed under the NASCAR banner, something Riddle will always remember.
“We got our first win four races into the season and also finished in the top three in eight of our nine starts,” Riddle said. “We had a season to remember for me, my team and family.”
Riddle got the racing bug from his grandpa John Riddle and uncle Jared, and while his dad – Steve – didn’t race, he helped the younger Riddle lead a dedicated crew this season and for the past several years.
“My dad and Tim Thoma, Chad Peat and Cory George all did a great job helping me out this year and we couldn’t have won the track title without them,” Riddle said. “I can’t thank them enough. They’re a dedicated bunch of people who deserve to celebrate a championship with me.”
One of the perks of winning a NASCAR title is an invitation to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards in December at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, something Riddle appreciated.
“NASCAR really does it right and we had a great time and I was able to thank my girlfriend Kelsey (Olsen) for all of her support in my racing career,” Riddle added. “It was a great time and it makes you want to win another title so you can enjoy the experience again.”
Riddle drove the No. 14 Morgan Shoes/Ziegler Crane Service Chevrolet with additional support from Pathfinder Chassis and Wagner Automotive Research.
“We hope to be back racing for another championship at Madison this spring,” Riddle said. “We’ll meet with our sponsors and get their input on where they would like for me to race and we’ll obviously work hard to give them the exposure they expect. I can’t wait to get back on the track.”