Thursday Thunder Drivers Race To Top Of National Points
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Eleven-year-old Hunter Robbins of Montgomery, Ala., isn¿t concerned with points - he¿s hardly even noticed he¿s leading the national points standings in the Bandolero Bandits division.
¿It¿s still early in the season to be concentrating on points,¿ Robbins said. ¿I¿m just trying to race as good as I can and win as much as I can right now.¿
Fellow Bandit and 2002 Thursday Thunder Bandits Champion Kyle Mitchell, 12, of Hampton is ranked fifth nationally, 172 points behind Robbins. Mitchell has another take on the points championship.
¿I won the Atlanta Championship last year without ever winning a race,¿ he said. ¿What it takes is consistency, and while it¿s fun to win races, points championships are better.¿
The young Atlanta Dental Team Bandits aren¿t the only Thursday Thunder drivers slugging it out on the national level. In all, eight Atlanta Motor Speedway regulars are ranked in the top five of their divisions nationally.
In the Pace Car Fuel Center Outlaws division, three Thursday Thunder Bandolero competitors find themselves among the top drivers in the nation, including Jody Pilkenton of Griffin, who is ranked first nationally and second at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Darrell Banks of Sharpsburg, points leader at Atlanta, is currently third nationally, while Sean Cassidy of Martinez is ranked fifth nationally and third in Thursday Thunder points.
¿Racing Outlaws at Atlanta is tough,¿ Cassidy said. ¿You¿re running against the best in the nation, and you have to be good just to keep up.¿
The Moore Machinery Movers Young Guns also have multiple Bandolero drivers ranked in the top five nationally. Jonathan Chandler, a 13-year-old from Fayetteville, is third in the nation, only 61 points ahead of 12-year-old Chase Moody of Griffin.
Larry Friddle of Greenville, S.C. is the only Legends driver from Atlanta Motor Speedway to be ranked in the top five of his division nationally, but he¿s racing regularly at five tracks in addition to running in the Tanger Outlet Center Masters division of Thursday Thunder. Friddle is ranked fifth nationally, with 2002 Georgia State Masters Champion Dwight Pilgram charging toward the top five. Pilgram is currently ranked ninth, running at four other tracks.
June 26 was double points night at Thursday Thunder, pushing several drivers into the top ten in national points. Those drivers include Pro division driver Beau Slocumb (Juliette), Semi-Pro competitor Keeton Hanks (Auburn, Ky.), Young Guns Bandolero driver Ryan Bowman (Lilburn), and Roadsters drivers Jim Gresham of Stockbridge and Kyle Beattie of Concord, N.C.
Thursday Thunder will continue its ten-week run July 3 as 11 Alive presents the Adesa Atlanta Fireworks and Racing Spectacular at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gates open at 6 p.m. every Thursday though Aug. 7 and action begins immediately. Feature races begin at 7:30 p.m. and conclude by 10:30 p.m. Fireworks will follow. Tickets can be purchased at Gate 13 on event nights, and adults are just $5, children 6-11 $1 and children 5 and under are free.