The first annual Papa John's Invitational was started with three-time Atlanta Motor Speedway Legends track champion, Reed Sorenson, atop the flagstand waving the field to the green flag.
The opener for the evening was a 25-lap Thunder Roadster race, where Thomas Van Wingerden (Concord, N.C.) led every lap, winning the event.
Next in line was the "Last Chance" race where 25 cars vied for eight starting positions in the Papa Johns Invitational feature race. Tyler Cordel of Music City, Tenn. brought the field to the green flag; however, T. Van Wingerden got a jump on the field and led the first lap. Just like his dominance in the Roadster feature, he led every lap and insured himself a starting position in the Papa John's Invitational. Also qualifying for the main feature of the night was: Casey Tate (Locust Grove, Ga.), Brandon Thompson (N.C.), Jerry Rector (Anderson, S.C.), Beau Slocumb (Juliette, Ga.), Randy Thornton (Conyers, Ga.), Brian Weimer (Cumming, Ga.) and Mark Wallace (Griffin, Ga.).
For the inaugural Papa Johns Invitational, Clay Hair (Charlotte, N.C.) started the event from the pole; however outside pole-sitter, Doug Stevens (Lovejoy, Ga.) edged Hair out to lead the first lap by inches. On lap three, Hair took back the top spot. Every driver knew what was on the line and it didn't seem as anyone had much patience as the field went through a series of five caution periods for the first half of the race.
Throughout the melee, Hair maintained his lead until lap 26, when Stevens passed him and never looked back. Stevens led the final half of the event, claiming the first ever Papa John's Invitational trophy. Following behind Stevens were Casey Roderick (Lawrenceville, Ga.), Michael Van Wingerden (N.C.), Slocumb, and T. Van Wingerden.
Incidentally, Stevens was the 2005 Thursday Thunder champion in the Legends Pro Series and second-place Roderick, was the 2005 Thursday Thunder Semi-Pro champion.
Great seats are still available for the October 30 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX or (770) 946-4211, or visit www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.