1988 NASCAR Champ Bill Elliott Makes First 2008 Thursday Thunder Showing
Casey Roderick ties Reed Sorenson for Thursday Thunder Wins
Atlanta Motor Speedway's fifth week of Thursday Thunder welcomed the first appearance of NASCAR legend and 1988 champion Bill Elliott and also featured a patriotic Papa John's Pizza Holiday Sparktacular fireworks show to celebrate Independence Day.
Elliott began in the second row of the Masters Division, while Brad Shelnutt brought the field to the start. Elliott immediately jumped into second, but Shelnutt was able to extend his lead position. Contact with Robert Spence sent Atlanta Motor Speedway president and general manager Ed Clark into the air. After the caution, the field was tightened putting Elliott back on Shelnutt's rear. Despite having a NASCAR fan favorite on his tail, Shelnutt was again able to extend his lead and claimed his fourth-career win and bragging rights over the former NASCAR champion.
The No. 47 vehicle of Casey Roderick paced the field to the green flag for the Charter Communications Pro feature. As the pole sitter pulled ahead of the field, Billy Fulson climbed from his seventh-place starting position into second to chase Roderick from afar. But Fulson was unable to close on Roderick, who tied NASCAR driver Reed Sorenson for second place in all-time Thursday Thunder wins with 22, one week after passing NASCAR Nationwide series upstart Joey Logano for third all time.
The Chargers class began with Amber Colvin pacing the field. Colvin was chased by Mark Swan in the early laps until Swan got loose coming out of turn two, allowing Colvin to extend her lead. However, a caution on lap six brought the field together. On the restart, Colvin's car appeared to struggle and Swan leapt to the front of the field. Bumping between Swan and Robbie Woodall's No. 72 car briefly allowed Woodall to jump in front before Swan would bump his way ahead again and take the checkered flag.
Competing in his second event of the evening, Clark held the pole position for the Roadsters race. Through the first 10 laps, Clark developed a sizeable lead over the field, but Bubba Harry, the class points leader, climbed up to third from seventh. Harry was struggling to catch the Clark, but a caution on the 19th lap put Harry on Clark's bumper for a green, white and checkered-flag finish. On the final lap, Harry used a bump coming out of the second turn to jump ahead of Clark and extend his points lead with the win.
Intermission featured a bomber car race featuring The Regular Guys from Rock 100.5 FM. Larry, Eric, Southside Steve and producer Tim attempted to run a clean race, but possible workplace tension led to constant contact, resulting in bumpers and parts littering the track. Eric successfully navigated the part-riddled track and cruised to an easy victory, while Tim, Southside Steve and Larry finished in respective order.
Justin Swilling sat on the pole for the Pep Boys Auto Semi-Pro division to lead the 17-car field. Despite the field being tightened by two cautions, Swilling led the race wire-to-wire to claim his first win of the year and third top-five finish.
The Greencastle Dental Bandits race began with Evan Bell holding the lead position. Using traffic to his advantage, Bell was able to develop a generous advantage over Kyle Benjamin and Mason Massey who sat in second and third. Bell held his position to cross the finish first and break Massey's streak of four-straight wins to open the 2008 season.
The combined classes of Young Guns and Outlaws began with Will Martin on the pole. After an early restart, the front of the field remained bunched tightly with Martin continuing to lead. With contact occurring behind him, Martin was able to extend the advantage, but Corey Gordon's persistence allowed him to catch Martin, take the inside position and jump to the lead. But Chad Finchum used a similar line one-lap later to pass Gordon. A late caution would force the evening's second green, white and checkered-flag finish, but Finchum refused to relent and claimed his second victory of the 2008 season.
Atlanta Motor Speedway introduced the Promoter's Choice races for the 2008 Thursday Thunder season. The Promoter's Choice race showcases competitors who have yet to win a heat or feature race during the Thursday Thunder season.
The Legends Promoter's Choice race began Billy Pyle holding the pole position, but Robbie Woodall jumped to the front as the race began. At the race's midpoint, Jim Daniels would push to the front and cross the finish first to claim his first career victory and when interviewed after the race, he shouted his trademark line, "Did I have fun yet or what?" delighting the crowd.
Garrett Smithley held the lead position for the Bandolero Promoter's Choice race. The Peachtree City native nursed his lead to the finish to claim the first win of his career.
Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder will return on July 10 for the sixth of 10 weeks of Legends, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing in the second of three Speedway Challenge Cup events. For more information, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
To test drive your own Legends machine, or for more information about Legends racing, call Legends of Georgia director Peter Horne III at (770) 707-2977 or visit www.legendsofga.com.
Week 5 Results:
1. Brad Shelnutt (McDonough), 2. Bill Elliott (Dawsonville), 3. Jeff Haynie (Zebulon), 4. Skip Nichols (Albany), 5. Jim Daniel (Thomaston), 6. Rick Geddes (Newnan), 7. Robert Spence (Atlanta), 8. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 9. David Wilkerson (Columbus).
1. Mark Swan (Athens), 2. Gerald Campbell (Sebring, Fla.), 3. Robbie Woodall (Dawsonville), 4. Jordan Coker (Powder Springs), 5. Melina Rolo (Cumming), 6. Billy Stevens (Locust Grove), 7. Mark Younginer (Jonesboro), 8. Amber Colvin (Tallahassee, Fla.), 9. Billy Pyle (Forest Park), 10. Jerry Silvers Jr. (Calhoun), 11. Chris Bowie (Douglasville), 12. Jacob Bowie (Douglasville).
1. Bubba Harry (Griffin), 2. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 3. Brian Meredith (Locust Grove), 4. Skip Nichols (Albany), 5. Johnny Rucker (McDonough), 6. Steve Crane (Zebulon), 7. Stuart Wilkerson (Columbus), 8. Jeremy Kalina (Griffin) substituting for Jim Gresham (Stockbridge), 9. Brian Weimer (Cumming).
Charter Communications Pro:
1. Casey Roderick (Lawrenceville), 2. Billy Fulson (Brooks), 3. Matt Stover (Gastonia, N.C.), 4. Will Prance (Canton), 5. Beau Slocumb (Macon) substituting for Zach Kittle (Watkinsville), 6. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 7. Spencer Mosley (McDonough), 8. Kyle Lowry (Covington), 9. James Kennedy.
Pep Boys Auto Semi-Pro:
1. Justin Swilling (Cohutta), 2. Ronnie Bassett (Winston-Salem, N.C.), 3. Jonathan Chandler (Fayetteville), 4. Bryce Walker (Weatherford, Texas), 5. Dylan Ames (Harvest, Ala.), 6. Chase Moody (Griffin), 7. Tyler Armstrong (Fayetteville), 8. Austin Hill (Winston), 9. Davey Matthews (Douglasville), 10. Currie Pierce (Griffin), 11. Chase Elliott (Dawsonville), 12. Zach Weaver (Columbus), 13. Mike Weed (Franklin), 14. Carl Chapman (Bonett), 15. Scott Hensley (Olive Branch, Miss.), 16. Evan Swilling (Cohutta), 17. Stuart Wilkerson (Midland).
Greencastle Dental Bandits:
1. Evan Bell (Buford), 2. Kyle Benjamin (Simpsonville, S.C.), 3. Mason Massey (Winston), 4. Charlie Gresham (Milner), 5. Jesse Little (Sherrills Ford, N.C.), 6. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 7. Dillon Bassett (Winston Salem, N.C.), 8. Taylor Jorgensen, 9. Dalton Hill (Winston), 10. Madeline Crane (Milledgeville), 11. Matson Houghton (McDonough), 12. Coleman Moody (Griffin), 13. Tyler Moseley (McDonough), 14. Micah Wever (Concord, N.C.), 15. Grant Crane (Zebulon), DQ - Brady Boswell (Watkinsville).
1. Chad Finchum (Knoxville, Tenn.), 2. Corey Gordon (Charlotte, N.C.), 3. Will Martin (Douglasville), 4. Jake Armstrong (Fayetteville), 5. Blake Jones (Sevierville, Tenn.), 6. Jonathan Lybrand (Newnan), 7. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 8. Jacob Wallace (Griffin), 9. Dallan Wortham (Woodstock), 10. Shawn Wortham (Woodstock), 11. Garrett Smithley (Peachtree City), 12. Jordan Rogers (Thomaston), 13. Luke Behnke (Fayetteville), 14. Justin Carroll (Concord, N.C.), 15. Dustyn Cunningham (Madison), 16. Timmy Hill (Port Tobacco, Md.).
1. Darrell Banks (Sharpsburg), 2. Bret Hardin (Acworth), 3. Brandon Jackson (Senoia).
Promoter's Choice - Legends:
1. Jim Daniel (Thomaston), 2. Robbie Woodall (Dawsonville), 3. Billy Pyle (Forest Park), 4. Jacob Bowie (Douglasville).
Promoter's Choice - Bandolero:
1. Garrett Smithley (Peachtree City), 2. Jesse Little (Sherrills Ford, N.C.), 3. Charlie Gresham (Milner), 4. Shawn Wortham (Woodstock), 5. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 6. Steve Crane (Zebulon), 7. Dalton Hill (Winston), 8. Micah Wever (Concord, N.C.), 9. Tyler Moseley (McDonough).