Triple Points Means Triple The Action At Atlanta Motor Speedway For This Week's Thursday Thunder
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
This week¿s Thursday Thunder racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway will hold a little more importance than usual for the championship chase. Racers will have the opportunity to earn three times as many points than usual due to last week¿s rain out and the scheduled double points event.
In all eight divisions of racing, points races are shaping up and should prove to be quite a showdown for the championship.
The Pro division is the tightest race, with 12 points separating the top four drivers. Fayetteville¿s Doug Ludwig leads the division, with 17-year-old Chris Dilbeck (Hampton) in second, three-time Pro Champion Doug Stevens (McDonough) in third and Morrow¿s Andy James in fourth place.
In the Legends Chargers division, the difference between first and third place is 12 points, with 2002 Bandolero Outlaw Champion Vince Ponder (Brooks) leading the charge. Griffin¿s Nathan Perkins, 13, is in second place and Gary Tatum (McDonough) is in third. Canton¿s Matt Hawkins is in fourth place only 25 points out of the championship lead.
In the Tanger Outlet Center Masters championship chase, two-time Masters Champ Skip Nichols (Albany) leads Griffin¿s Mike Wallace, co-owner of the No. 77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Winston Cup team, by only six points. Sam McCullough of Snellville is in third, 18 points behind Nichols. Six drivers are within 100 points of the leader.
Griffin natives Bubba Harry and Jeremy Kalina lead the Legends Semi-Pro division, separated by only six points. There are seven drivers within 100 points of Harry.
In the Moore Machinery Movers Young Guns division, the top eight drivers are all within 100 points of leader Trey Maughan (Fayetteville). Second place racer Ryan Bowman of Lilburn is 22 points behind Maughan.
Four-time 2003 winner Hunter Robbins (Montgomery, Ala.) trails Lawrenceville¿s Casey Roderick by just six points in the Atlanta Dental Team Bandits division. Bandits defending champion Kyle Mitchell is in third, 58 points behind the leader. Just 100 points separate the top eight drivers.
With the promise of triple points there are sure to be some shake-ups this week at Thursday Thunder, which continues every Thursday night through Aug. 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are just $5 for adults, $1 for ages 6-11 and children under 6 are free. Call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 770-946-4211 for more information.
LEARNING AND RACING: Thursday Thunder isn¿t all about learning to be a great race car driver. It¿s about practicing your penmanship, too.
Nine-year-old Peyton Durflinger, a racer in the Bandits division and student at Ola Elementary School, was already autographing his hero cards in the garage pre-race.
¿I¿m not great at cursive yet, so I get behind in the autograph session,¿ he said.
Each week during Thursday Thunder, fans are invited onto the frontstretch during the autograph session to meet some of the biggest names on the Thunder Ring at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
HANGING WITH BIFFLE: Outlaw division driver Sean Cassidy missed his chance to visit Papa John¿s Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 3, but he had a good excuse.
Cassidy was in Daytona with friends who work with Greg Biffle¿s Roush Racing team. In exchange for missing his race on the Thunder Ring in Atlanta, Cassidy got to celebrate in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway two weeks ago with Biffle, who won the Winston Cup race.
¿I was there just hanging out in the hauler - in the air conditioning - with them,¿ Cassidy said. ¿I guess I just got lucky they won a race while I was there.¿
LEADING THE WAY: The three Bandolero divisions of Thursday Thunder continue to prove Atlanta Motor Speedway offers the best Bandolero racing in the nation.
The national leaders from the Bandits, Young Guns and Outlaws divisions are all regulars at Thursday Thunder, but none of the three lead their division in points at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Hunter Robbins of Montgomery, Ala., leads the nation in Bandits points but trails Casey Roderick of Lawrenceville by six points in the race for the Atlanta Dental Team Bandits Championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Lilburn¿s Ryan Bowman is 22 points out of the lead in the Atlanta Motor Speedway Moore Machinery Movers Young Guns division, but he leads the national standings by 262 points.
Jody Pilkenton of Griffin has not won a Pace Car Fuel Centers Outlaws race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2003, but he has dominated the division nationally, leading the second-place driver by 666 points. He is 12 points behind Thursday Thunder leader Darrell Banks (Sharpsburg) in the race for the Outlaws track championship.