Thursday Thunder Week 6: Ryan Rudy Earns First Career Thursday Thunder Win
Friday, July 16, 2004
Driving the No. 16 car sponsored by Kyle Petty and the Victory Junction Gang, Hampton¿s own Ryan Rudy took home his first career win Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway¿s Thursday Thunder night sponsored by Walker Concrete.
It was 12-year-old Rudy¿s first win in three years in the Thursday Thunder series. He raced for two years in the Bandolero Bandits division before moving up to the Bandolero Young Guns class this season. His previous career best finish was third, which he earned in last week¿s race.
Selected as last season¿s Thursday Thunder Sportsman of The Year, Rudy is one of the most well-liked young drivers in the garage.
Rudy has dedicated much of his time off the track to raising money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a facility recently opened by the Petty family for medically fragile children in Randleman, N.C.
¿I¿ve been waiting a long time for this one,¿ Rudy said. ¿This means so much to me.¿
The evening¿s celebrity race featured WSB radio¿s traffic reporters Capt. Herb Emory and Jason Durden, who battled it out during a six-lap grudge match in beat-up pickup trucks.
During the first three laps, Emory and Durden traded the lead while trying to force each other off course. In an unexpected twist, AMS mascot Monkey Wrench joined the race as a last-minute entry on lap four. After trading a little paint and one or two shortcuts through the infield, Capt. Herb managed to keep his winning streak intact by defeating fellow traffic reporter Durden.
In the Pro division, Jeremy Kalina (Griffin) held off the current points leader Chris Dilbeck (Hampton) to win his first race of the season. Dilbeck tried to use his signature slide move on the last turn of the last lap, but Kalina managed to hold him off. Last week¿s winner, Bubba Harry (Griffin), finished out the top three.
Atlanta Dental Team Bandits defending champion Casey Roderick picked up his fourth win of the season. By virtue of being the current points leader, Roderick started on the fourth row but fought his way into third place by the end of the second turn. Two-time winner Kyle Fowler (Smyrna) finished second, while Cole Miktuk (Rock Hill) was third.
In the Chargers division, Todd ¿Catfish¿ Gulledge earned his second race of the season, holding off Stockbridge¿s Brad Shelnutt and Griffin¿s Byron ¿Duke¿ Conley.
Randy Thornton (Oxford) also earned his first win of the season in the Tanger Outlet Center Masters division, holding off a hard-charging Skip Nichols (Albany) to the checkered. After entering the night tied for the division lead, Thornton¿s win moved him atop the point standings. Nichols was second, while Geoffrey Barnes (Griffin) earned his highest finish of the season with third.
Tina Johnson (Senoia) won her second race of the season in the Outlaws race, holding off Vince Ponder (Brooks) and Jody Pilkenton
After a thrilling final lap, defending Roadsters champion Jim Gresham (Hampton) won his first race of the season as his competitors turned each other in the final turn. Rookie Jim Egloff (Griffin) finished second and remains atop the point standings.
Results from the evening¿s Estes Heating & Air Semi-Pro division are under protest and are not final. A decision will be made pending a review of the winning motor, which is not expected until next week.
Atlanta Motor Speedway¿s Thursday Thunder will return next week for Papa John¿s Night featuring William Hung. The former American Idol contestant will sign autographs from 6-6:30 p.m. and will sing a variety of songs throughout the night. The first 500 people through the gates when they open next week will also receive a free goody bag courtesy of Papa John¿s.
Tickets for Thursday Thunder are just $5 for adults, $1 for children 6-12, and children under 5 are free. Parking is free. Spectator gates open at 6 p.m. with preliminary action beginning immediately. Feature racing begins at 7 p.m. and concludes by 10 p.m. For more information about Thursday Thunder, call (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.