Fayetteville, Ga. resident Jonathan Chandler has started the 2006 Thursday Thunder season in grand fashion, winning the first three races and sitting at the top spot in the John Deere Outlaws championship points chase.
The Whitewater High School student has made 25 starts during Thursday Thunder, Atlanta Motor Speedway's weekly Legends racing series, but prior to his victories in 2006, Chandler was winless in Thursday Thunder competition.
"I really feel like I am a better driver this year," Chandler said. "I feel a lot more confident and the results are showing it."
Chandler started racing when he was 11-years-old after he saw his friend competing at a Thursday Thunder event.
"I was watching Thursday Thunder as a spectator and during an autograph session, I walked down on the track and saw one of my good friends I played baseball with standing by his car," Chandler remembered. "We started talking and I planted the seed in my parents' minds that I would like to race, and that is more or less how it all started."
Chandler started driving a Bandolero shortly after and since that time, has amassed a long list of accomplishments including a Georgia state championship, a track championship and a third place national ranking, all in a Bandolero race car.
For most drivers, winning feature races and accumulating nearly 20 top-10 finishes in three seasons would be considered a huge success, but Chandler is anxious to further his racing career.
"My next goal is to win a Thursday Thunder championship," Chandler said. "If I run strong at AMS, that will help me out in the national rankings as well."
The Atlanta native also plans to audition for a Hooters Pro Cup or a late-model stock car ride for the 2007 season.
"Long term, I really want to drive a late-model," Chandler said. "Hooters Pro Cup would be awesome and this is my concentration right now. I am racing the Bandolero to have some fun and keep my driving skills sharp."
In his spare time, the 16-year-old Chandler enjoys fishing, riding his four-wheeler and driving his lifted Chevrolet Tahoe.
"I used to play baseball, but now it interferes with racing, so I can't do that anymore," Chandler said. "It is all about the racing; that is my top priority."
Despite his blossoming racing career, Chandler knows he has to keep his priorities straight, both at the track and away. Upon completion of high school, Chandler hopes to attend either Clemson University or the University of North Carolina at Charlotte because of the academic programs offered by each.
"I am really a University of Alabama fan, but I want to go to either Clemson or UNC Charlotte because they offer motorsports programs," Chandler said.
Chandler hopes to make his black No. 99 Q1 Customer Service sponsored Bandolero a regular sight in victory lane this year. Fans can watch Chandler try and try and continue his hot start to the 2006 season during Thursday Thunder this summer through August 3.
Tickets for Thursday Thunder, Atlanta Motor Speedway's weekly Legends racing series, 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.