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Thomas Bowles · Thursday May 25, 2006
While Jimmie Johnson took all the glory last Saturday night, Scott Riggs spent the entire Nextel All-Star Challenge trapped a lap down in a great car.
Time to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Scott Riggs went out 30th on the grid and won the pole for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, with a speed of 187.865 mph. Riggs had to outlast fellow Dodge teammate Jeremy Mayfield, the final qualifier, who made it an all-Evernham Motorsports front row with a time just .088 seconds behind Riggs. Pre-race favorite Jimmie Johnson timed in third, with J.J. Yeley, in a backup car after wrecking his primary car in practice, qualifying a strong fourth. Bobby Labonte rounded out the Top 5 qualifiers in his Petty Dodge.
For Nextel Open Winner Riggs, making the All-Star Challenge proved meaningful in giving the team extra information to use heading into this week.
“Getting those laps under our belt definitely helped us,” said Riggs. “We got to see what our car does late at night.”
Riggs also knew the car was good despite finishing a disappointing 10th in the All-Star Challenge. “We would drive from the rear (after being trapped a lap down) and drive up, one time up to 5th place on the track, but have to restart in the back.”
After a season of disappointment, Mayfield was elated with his second place qualifying effort. A 2005 participant in the Chase, this season has been a disaster for Mayfield, who finds himself 34th in points after his entire team was reorganized in the offseason.
“It’s just a good feeling for me to be second, to be in the Top 5, to have a good pit selection,” said Mayfield. “Things are starting to go our way.”
Of the eighteen drivers needing to qualify on speed, there were several surprises. Johnny Sauter, driving a second Hass Motorsports entry, qualified a surprising 14th, and underfunded McGlynn Motorsports’ #74 car with Derrike Cope driving was the last car outside the Top 35 in owner points to make the field.
On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Waltrip found himself on the outside looking in for the first time this season. Only 50th in practice, Waltrip failed to pick it up and DNQ’d for the first time in 2006, his poor start to the year coming back to bite him. It’s the first time since Phoenix in 1998 that Waltrip failed to qualify, a span of 261 races.
Despite a rough practice session, with several drivers spinning out, only two drivers wrecked in qualifying Thursday night : Kirk Shelmerdine and Carl Long.
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Riggs looked sharp for the open and the All-star race. His car was good, actually, all the Dodges seem to run well with the harder tire. His qualifying run on the same chassis is no surprise. I suspect Riggs will be good all day Sunday as well!
Hey Mikey is going to buy Derrike Copes car. place 55 and Napa on it and finish 43rd in it (Note: NASCAR Told him he HAD to use the exact car Cope did cant swap it for the one he DNQ’d in)
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