The ninth season of Thursday Thunder opened tonight at Atlanta Motor Speedway with 110 cars competing, setting the new car count record for Thursday Thunder competition.
Early in the night, heat races were held. Classes with more than 18 cars competing raced to earn a position in the feature race tonight. The Back Yard Burger Semi-Pro and Atlanta Dental Team Bandits divisions had classes larger than 18, so some competitors had to go home before feature racing began.
Country radio personality Moby sang the National Anthem to open the night.
The first division for the night to compete was the Back Yard Burgers Semi-Pro division. The top eight cars in every feature tonight were inverted for the start, so Taylor Hull brought the car to the green flag. Paddy Rodenbeck took over the lead on lap two and held it until lap 10 when, Hull took back the lead and held onto it to score his first Thursday Thunder win.
The next feature of the evening was the John Deere Roadster division. Zach Monette started on the pole, but on lap one, Jim Gresham took the lead and never relinquished it. Gresham claimed his 10th Thursday Thunder Roadster win.
Next, the Atlanta Dental Team Bandits took the green flag with Kyle Benjamin on the point. On lap 11, Cody Blackburn passed for the lead in turn four. Evan Swilling charged his way through the field and tried to pass for the win, but missed capturing the checkered flag by less than a car length. Blackburn scored his first Thursday Thunder win.
Chuck Dowdle and Bill Hartman, sports anchors for WSB-TV entertained the crowd with a celebrity grudge match in Roadster cars. Dowdle took the early lead but spun out in turn two, crashing into the backstretch wall. Hartman claimed the win by default. Dowdle felt horrible for crashing the Roadster car, which incidentally belonged to AMS President and General Manager, Ed Clark. Dowdle jokingly said, "Looks like WSB-TV will be airing Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday Thunder racing for the next two years. I think I need to give Ed my insurance agent's number."
The Zaxby's Young Guns division took to the track next. Currie Pierce started on the pole but got into the wall on lap seven and had to retire from the event. Tyler Armstrong inherited the lead and held off the rest of the competitors to claim his first Thursday Thunder win.
Wade Brewer paced the field for the start of the Tanger Outlet Center Masters feature. Clay Hair took the lead on lap 12 and never let go to score the victory.
For the John Deere Outlaws division, Benny Mingo took the green flag for the feature. On lap six, Jonathan Chandler grabbed the top spot and the eventual win.
The McDonough Hospitality and Tourism Chargers division began with Jason Turner at the point. On lap five, Troy Radford took the lead and held off the rest of the competitors to score the win.
The Pro division closed the show for the evening with Casey Tate pacing the field for the start. On lap three, Chris Cable charged to the front, but on lap four Cable and Casey Tate made contact, taking both cars out of the event with damage. Casey Roderick restarted the race as the leader and led the rest of the laps to score his first Thursday Thunder Pro feature win, and his 15 Thursday Thunder win.
Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder will return next week for the second of ten weeks of Legends, Bandolero and Roadster racing. Next week, don't miss Rhubarb's 17th annual March Across Georgia night sponsored by Home Life Communities and presented by Eagle 106.7fm. Help Rhubarb raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!
To test drive your own Legends machine, or for more information about Legends racing, call Legends of Georgia director Pete Horne at (770) 707-2977 or visit www.legendsofga.com.
Back Yard Burgers Semi-Pro: 1. Taylor Hull (Winston), 2. Paddy Rodenbeck (Odessa, Fla.), 3. Max Gresham (Milner), 4. Brad Shelnutt (Stockbridge), 5. Daniel Moore (Griffin), 6. Josh Williams (Port Charlotte, Fla.), 7. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 8. Levon Kitchens (Macon), 9. Jay Cloud (Griffin), 10. T.J. Halsema (Roswell), 11. Billy Fulson (Brooks), 12. Justin Stauffer (Gainesville), 13. Mike Cobb (Hampton), 14. Adam Akridge (Lilburn), 15. Ryan Gandee (McDonough), 16. Matt Bowers (Mt. Dora, Fla.), 17. Eric Cushman (Stockbridge), 18. Steven Bloodworth (McIntyre).
John Deere Roadsters: 1. Jim Gresham (Stockbridge), 2. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 3. Paige Monette (Alpharetta), 4. Zach Monette (Alpharetta, 5. Justin Stauffer (Gainesville).
Atlanta Dental Team Bandits: 1. Cody Blackburn (Stanley, N.C.), 2. Evan Swilling (Cohutta), 3. J.D. Farlow (Grantville), 4. Kyle Benjamin (Simpsonville, S.C.), 5. Mason Massey (Winston), 6. Maxx Bennett (Zephyrhills, Fla.), 7. Dillon Bassett (Winston-Salem, N.C.), 8. Dylan Ames (Harvest, Ala.), 9. Joseph Pilato, 10. Kyle Plott (Marietta), 11. Ronnie Bassett (Winston-Salem, N.C.), 12. Peyton Durflinger (McDonough), 13. Grant Crane (Zebulon), 14. Chris Achenbach (Douglasville), 15. Scott Hensley (Olive Branch, MS), 16. Judson Kittle (Watkinsville), 17. Jordan Rogers (Thomaston), 18. Evan Bell (Buford).
Zaxby's Young Guns: 1. Tyler Armstrong (Alpharetta), 2. Matt Stover (Gastonia, N.C.), 3. Jordan Coker (Powder Springs), 4. Sean McPherson (Acworth), 5. Ty Bennett (Loganville), 6. Hayes Tankersley (Cumming), 7. Taylor Bryant (Juliette), 8. Stan Hammons (Milner), 9. Maddy Moody (Watkinsville), 10. Blake Eden (Deland, Fla.), 11. Zach Kittle (Watkinsville), 12. Currie Pierce (Griffin), 13. Austin Hill (Winston), 14. Chris Siebert (Hampton).
Tanger Outlet Center Masters: 1. Clay Hair (Mt. Pleasant, N.C.), 2. Brian Weimer (Cumming.), 3. Dwight Pilgram (McDonough), 4. Wade Brewer (Hampton), 5. Danny Williams (Apex, N.C.), 6. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 7. Robert Spence (Atlanta), 8. Skip Nichols (Albany), 9. Randy Thornton (Oxford), 10. Johnny Rucker (McDonough), 11. Keith Breasbois (Gainesville), 12. Jimmy Wade (Griffin), 13. Sam McCullough (Atlanta), 14. Jim Daniel (Thomaston), 15. Bill Henry (Kennesaw).
John Deere Outlaws: 1. Jonathan Chandler (Fayetteville), 2. Benny Mingo (Kannapolis, N.C.), 3. Trey Maughan (Knoxville, Tenn.), 4. James Caldwell (McDonough).
McDonough Hospitality and Tourism Chargers: 1. Troy Radford (Dalton), 2. Andrew Wroten (Atlanta), 3. Jason Turner (Griffin), 4. R.S. Senter (Oakwood), 5. Mike Conrad (Dawson), 6. Tyler Ridley (Ballground), 7. Jai Otwell (Bremen), 8. Kevin Mixon (Oxford), 9. Trey Ridley (Ballground), 10. Fred Miles (Alpharetta), 11. Steve Fessler (Tyrone), 12. Leslie Cash (Brooks), 13. Will Hannah (Newnan).
Pro: 1. Casey Roderick (Lawrenceville), 2. Jeremy Kalina (Griffin), 3. Brandon Thomson (St. Cloud, Fla.),4. Brennan Poole (Woodlands, TX), 5. Bubba Harry (Griffin), 6. Kyle Fowler (Smyrna), 7. Doug Stevens (McDonough), 8. Chris Cable (Griffin), 9. Casey Tate (Locust Grove), 10. Brian Meredith (Locust Grove).