Speedway Officials Make Championship Picks

HAMPTON, GA (June 8, 2005) - Sparks will fly under the lights as a full slate of racing action gets underway at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday evening, June 9.

Anticipation and expectations come with the start of any new season and the Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder racing series is no exception. Prior to the start of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, members of the national media tabbed Jimmie Johnson as the 2005 Cup series champion.

Atlanta Motor Speedway officials conducted an unofficial poll to determine a general consensus pick for each division. The 2005 championship picks are listed below:


Bandoleros:

Bandits - Austin Hill, Winston, Ga.
Austin has been winning races and championships since the age of six. Hill has scored more than 85 wins and has a quarter-midget championship to his credit. Look for Hill to score his first Bandit series championship this year.

Young Guns - Ryan Gandee, McDonough, Ga.
The only returning Young Guns driver, Ryan Gandee will have an advantage with one complete season and one win under his belt.

Outlaws - Daniel Moore, Griffin, Ga.
Making the step from Young Guns to Outlaws can be difficult, but look for the 2004 Young Guns champion and race winner Daniel Moore to adapt quickly and be a contender for the 2005 Outlaw title.


Legends:

Chargers - A true toss-up, the Chargers division is open to anyone without any previous racing experience. It will be exciting to see who charges to the 2005 series championship.

Semi-Pro - Kyle Fowler, Smyrna, Ga.; Casey Roderick, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Fowler and Roderick will put on a show racing for the 2005 Semi-Pro title.

  • Fowler is the 2004 state Bandolero champion and won his first Semi-Pro race in just five starts.
  • Roderick is the only driver to win two Bandit Thursday Thunder championships, winning the title in 2003 and 2004. He also won the 2001 Karting championship and has been racing karts since he was 5-years-old.

    Pro - Doug Stephens, McDonough, Ga.; Chris Cable, Griffin, Ga.; Chris Dilbeck, Hampton, Ga.
    The 2005 Pro series title will probably come down to the last lap of the last race as Stephens, Cable and Dilbeck battle for the 2005 series crown.

  • Stephens has more championships than any other Thursday Thunder driver with four. He also holds the Legends car qualifying record, making his way around the track in just 16.44 seconds.
  • Cable, the 2004 Georgia state and Thursday Thunder Semi-Pro champion will make the switch to the Pro series this year. Look for Cable to be a contender as the season winds down.
  • Dilbeck, the defending Pro series champion will use the momentum he gained in 2004 and start the season strong. Repeating a championship is difficult, but Dilbeck should be poised to make another title run in 2005.

    Masters - Skip Nichols, Albany, Ga.
    Nichols will be a title contender as the 2004 series champion tries to retain his winning form. Nichols, a perennial powerhouse, also has Thursday Thunder championships in 2001 and 2002.


    Roadsters:Jim Gresham, Stockbridge, Ga.
    Trying to regain his championship form, Jim Gresham, the 2003 Roadster champion and 2004 runner-up, will be hungry to reclaim his title.

    Honorary Mention in the Masters and Roadster division goes to AMS president and general manager Ed Clark who mysteriously garnered a single "anonymous" vote in each division. Atlanta Motor Speedway officials are still trying to determine the source of the vote.

    Tickets for Thursday Thunder are available at Gate 13 (frontstretch Champions Grandstand) on event nights. 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 10:30 p.m.

    Call (770) 946-4211 for information.