Daniel, from Thomaston, Ga., races in the Masters Division, a division reserved for racers at least 40-years-old. At 51, Daniel is actually classified as a Golden Master, a moniker worn by drivers age 50 and over.
"About the only thing a Golden Master does is take an extra dose of Geritol before getting in the car," Daniel joked.
The current trend in auto racing points to kids getting into race cars at young ages, but Daniel waited until later in life to start living his dream of being a race car driver. This season marks Daniel's third year of competitive racing.
"My father, who is also my hero, raced until he was about 70," Daniel explained. "I wanted to follow in his footsteps as far as racing goes. It just took me a little while to do it.
"I run the No. 34 on my car because that was the number he raced and also the year he was born. I have it tattooed on my arm."
Since Daniel started racing Legends cars on the Thunder Ring, AMS' frontstretch quarter-mile oval, he has continually progressed from a driver who willingly started every race in the back of the pack to a driver who isn't afraid to mix it up with the leaders.
"When I started racing at AMS, I started the first five races in the very back. I didn't want to get in the way," Daniel said. "The other Masters drivers came to me and explained to me how to drive the track. They wanted me to get better and I was so thankful."
Daniel, a facility engineer for Caterpillar in Griffin, Ga., lists the day he unexpectedly started a feature race on the pole as one of his fondest racing memories,
"I was supposed to start the race sixth," Daniel said. "But the top-six positions were inverted, putting me on the pole. I led the first two laps. Looking in the mirror and seeing everyone behind me... what a rush."
For his positive attitude and the sportsmanship he displays, AMS awarded the popular Daniel the "Sportsman of the Year" award in 2007.
"That is without a doubt the biggest racing achievement I have ever received," Daniel said. "That award really means a lot."
Continually improving his championship point standings each year, Daniel currently finds himself in fifth-place, just 12 markers out of first place.
"My goal is to finish in the top-five in points this year and win my first race," Daniel said.
Of course if he isn't able to achieve his goals for the 2008 season, Daniel points to his status as a Golden Master as his reason why.
"Golden Masters usually don't play with a full deck upstairs in their head either. It's a pretty good excuse actually."
Thursday Thunder will run every Thursday through August 7. An adult ticket to Thursday Thunder is just $5 while kids ages six to 11 are just $1. Kids five and under are free. Gates open at 6 p.m., heat races start at 6:15 p.m. and feature races start at approximately 7:50 p.m. More information can be obtained by calling 770-946-4211 or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com