Tanner English looking to build off of Summer Nationals success

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Tanner English

The closest followers within the Dirt Late Model world have known about Tanner English for a while now. But over the past few months, even the more casual followers of the sport have become keenly aware of the exploits of the Riggs Motorsports driver. A very successful campaign during the 2021 DIRTcar Summer Nationals brought the 28-year-old racer to the forefront of the dirt racing scene on a much larger scale.

English finished third in the final standings on the ‘Hell Tour’ behind champion Bobby Pierce and runner-up Ashton Winger. During the course of the series that contested a total of 29 races between June 15th and August 21st, English earned a $10,000 payday at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois along with a remarkable twenty top-5 finishes.

The 2021 version of the Summer Nationals ran a bit differently than in the past when drivers and teams would race almost non-stop for one full month. Despite his success this year, English would prefer that the Midwestern-based series return to its more traditional schedule.

“It’s definitely grueling,” English admitted in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “I mean, it’s not that bad in one way because of the way they have it spread out but it just seems like it goes on forever. I would rather have it go for 30 days and we race for 28 days or something like that, you know, have a couple of off days.”

English believes the way the schedule was laid out this year aided those who are more prone to hurting their own equipment.

“Those off days where we got three in a row, it kind of defeats the purpose of it because the point is to go run a bunch of races all at once,” he insisted. “It allows people who tear up their equipment to regroup and I don’t do much of that so I feel like it hurt me because of the way I race. Some people could go all out and tear up their stuff then have a week to get ready again. But I liked it, it was a good experience but I would like for them to cut it back down to thirty days and less races.”

Still, running the series and visiting the wide variety of tracks has made English and his team better.

“That’s another thing about getting the first year in,” the driver said. “I’ve never followed that deal so most of them were new tracks to me. Some of them were tracks I’ve been to a lot, but those Michigan tracks and some of those tracks in Ohio I had never been to. It was definitely a learning experience. We still ran good at those tracks but I could see where we could gain on it and be better next year.”

The Benton, Kentucky driver would like to give the Summer Nationals another go and perhaps even claim the crown at the end.

“Yeah, it just makes sense for us,” English explained. “Maybe not the whole thing but most of it. I would like to win it one time, the points deal, just to say I did it. I feel like we could do it if we’re on our game. I felt like we could at the beginning but Bobby just got better than he was at the beginning.”

Tanner English wheeling his No. 81E Riggs Motorsports Rocket

The driver who earned 2020 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series ‘Rookie of the Year’ honors opted not to remain with that national touring series after starting several races during the early portion of the season. Instead, the No. 81E Rocket Chassis crew found success in other races.

English sailed to victory in a $5,000 DIRTcar-sanctioned event at the Clarksville(TN) Speedway then followed that up with a $10,053 triumph with the Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals on May 1st at Clarksville. The team’s most lucrative win of 2021 came at the Fairbury(IL) Speedway when a check for $15,000 was collected in a MARS Racing series event.

Those wins along with his success on the Summer Nationals has built confidence for the team.

“Just to know that you can run up front every night means a lot, qualifying up front is big and running good in the heat race is really big too,” English stated. “Being able to do that was a big confidence booster. You just feel like you can go anywhere then and run good. Obviously we were running against some pretty stiff competition in the Summer Nationals. Bobby and Ashton go off and run World of Outlaws and they’re winning or running in the top-three or whatever. There weren’t any slouches in that deal and it was pretty tough this year.”

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English says his performance on the Hell Tour demonstrates just how far his team has come since this time last year.

“Especially from where we were at last year in this Riggs Motorsports ride,” he said. “We were struggling there about midway through the year but we picked it up by the end of the year and then that just kind of carried over into this year. We’ve had a really big turnaround from last year. We only won a couple of races last year but I think we’ve won eight races this year and some pretty big ones at that. That’s huge for our team to keep building and getting better.”

As for the remainder of the season, English and his crew look to enter some of the top races.

“We’ll hit some big shows the rest of the year. We’ll run the Jackson 100 and other races that make sense. Next weekend we’re going to Farmer City and Fairbury for two fives and a ten. I’m just trying to hit races that I like that are bigger races so we can capitalize on our situation.”

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