Cover Confident In Don Bell Signs Pro Division
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Last season, after just five weeks in the Semi-Pro division of Atlanta Motor Speedway¿s Thursday Thunder, Douglasville¿s L.J. Cover moved up to the series¿ top division, the Pro class.
His competitors questioned the move. Race officials even wondered quietly if he was trying to move too fast.
But Cover, who had won one race and racked up three DNFs (did not finish) in the first five races of last season¿s Semi-Pro competition, decided he would rather run at the back of the Pro division than wreck every week.
¿I had a choice ¿ I could keep tearing up equipment, going home early, getting almost no laps in with the Semi-Pro division,¿ Cover said. ¿Or I could follow the Pro drivers around a couple weeks, stay out of trouble and learn as much as possible. We decided that was a much better game plan.¿
One that paid off almost immediately. In his first race with the Pro division last year, Cover finished second. He went on to rack up two more top-10 finishes before the season ended.
This season, Cover has four top-5 finishes in the first four races in the Don Bell Signs Pro division, including one heartbreaking second-place to four-time winner Chris Dilbeck. Cover had started on the pole position and led every lap until the last, when Dilbeck passed him for the victory.
¿I saw (Dilbeck) when he passed the car behind me, and I tried to focus on hitting my marks on the track and off of him,¿ Cover said. ¿I got to hitting (my marks) good and staying in front of him. And then Chris just picked up the pace and ran me down. He had to move me to pass me, but it was pretty clean. He was just faster. Next time he might not be.¿
That¿s the kind of confidence Cover has from running in the top division. He¿s run with the best, and he has almost beaten the best.
¿I¿ve really learned a lot in the last year,¿ Cover said. ¿I know how to carry more speed through the corners. I¿ve learned how to pass fast cars. I¿ve learned where to run on the track. I¿ve learned how to set the car up.
¿We¿re just barely missing the win, but we¿re holding our own. Hopefully we¿ll get one soon.¿
In the meantime, no one is questioning which division Cover belongs in. Don¿t miss this week¿s First Fireworks night at Thursday Thunder to see if Cover can earn that elusive first win.
Atlanta Motor Speedway will kick off the long Independence Day weekend with a bang, hosting one of the first fireworks displays in the Southeast on Thursday at the Kicks 101.5 FM First Fireworks night at Thursday Thunder.
Another record crowd is expected for the 15-minute fireworks display, which will be held at dark, around 9:30 p.m. Especially for next week¿s Independence Day celebration, Atlanta Motor Speedway will also add to the fun on concourse with clowns, face painting and free goody bags from Papa John's to the first 500 fans through the gates when they open at 6 p.m. In addition, back by popular demand, the entire field of Thursday Thunder drivers will be available for autographs on the track before the feature races start, at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Tickets are available at Gate 13 the night of the event and are just $5 for adults, $1 for children 6-11 (5 and under are free). For the July 1 event only, spectators will be charged $5 to enter speedway property and park; the $5 voucher they receive for parking is redeemable for one ticket at the gate. Spectator gates open at 6 p.m. with preliminary action starting immediately Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and will conclude by 10 p.m.
Contact the speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211 for information, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.