Riggs cruises into All-Star Challenge

Updated: May 20, 2006, 10:11 PM ET
Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. -- Scott Riggs raced his way into the All-Star Challenge with a dominating victory in the Nextel Open.

Riggs started on the pole and led all but one lap of the 30-lap sprint to easily beat Jeff Green to the finish line.

"It feels good, but it feels better that we get the chance to go to the next race," Riggs said before quickly rushing off to attend to his No. 10 Dodge in the short break before the main event.

Riggs has come a long way from three months ago, when he failed to make the season-opening Daytona 500. Driving a new car for owner Ray Evernham, the team wasn't guaranteed a spot in the field and struggled to find enough speed to qualify.

But in the 10 races since, Riggs has worked himself up to 26th in the points and is ahead of the likes of Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip and teammate Jeremy Mayfield -- all of whom have run one more race than Riggs.

"We've been making marks and getting better," Riggs said. "There's not a lot of notice yet because we're a new team, but we're getting there."

Meanwhile, the grassroots campaign to get Kyle Petty into the All-Star Challenge was a success, with fans voting the veteran into the 20th and final spot in the field.

Nextel allows fans to vote one driver into the All-Star event, and Petty and sponsor Coca-Cola took the unique step of asking for support.

The "Vote Kyle, Reward Victory Junction" campaign was launched earlier this month and several sponsors vowed to give Petty's camp a $250,000 donation if the driver was voted in.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press