Atlanta Motor Speedway's fifth week of Thursday Thunder featured fireworks on the track and six repeat feature winners, in addition to a spectacular fireworks show to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend.
Seemingly a statistical anomaly, six Thursday Thunder classes featured repeat winners - Luke Behnke (J.J. Morley Outlaws), Evan Bell (Young Guns), Jonathan Chandler (Semi-Pro), Chad Finchum (Young Lions), Austin Hill (Pro) and Kyle Weatherman (M&S Auto Bandits). Behnke's win marked his fifth-straight.
Brian Merideth paced the field to the start for the Roadsters feature and quickly jumped ahead of the pack. Using a bump to gain an advantage, Adam Gay nudged his way into second before a caution brought the field together. Following the restart, a battle between Gay and Jim Gresham allowed Merideth to move ahead, but Gresham quickly closed the gap after passing Gay. Despite continued banging on his bumper from Gresham, Merideth held on to claim his first win since the 2001 Thursday Thunder season and first in a Roadster.
Entering the race tied for the points lead, Bell held the pole position for the combined classes of Young Guns and J.J. Morley Outlaws. Bell built a lead of more than one quarter of the track's length by the race's midpoint and carried his advantage to the checkered flag. The win was Bell's third of the season, giving Buford native the outright points lead among Young Guns. Behnke finished first among J.J. Morley Outlaws, his fifth-straight win.
With 27-career victories, Doug Stevens paced the Pro class to the green flag while substitute driving for Ryan Gandee. Stevens jetted ahead of the field showing his experience, but his car soon began smoking and slowing likely due to a break problem. As a result, Billy Fulson soon caught up and used a bump to pass. After two cautions, Fulson remained in the lead, but points-leader Hill used a clever push on Will Prance to simultaneously bump Fulson, allowing Hill to jump ahead for his second-consecutive win.
Ed Clark held the advantage to start the Masters feature, but traffic resulting from a wreck allowed Skip Nichols to move to the front. Trailed early by Randy Thornton, Nichols slowly added to his lead and eventually cruised past the checkered flag for his second win of the season and 21st of his career.
The Semi-Pro class began with Chandler holding the advantage. With congestion on the backstretch behind him, Chandler immediately built an insurmountable advantage. Putting nine cars a lap down before the race's end, he easily seized his third-straight victory.
Clayton Weatherman lined up in front to start the M&S Auto Bandits feature, with his brother Kyle starting second on the front line. Jockeying with his brother for position, Kyle soon claimed the lead. After Clayton pulled off the track following two restarts, Kyle maintained his lead position and claimed the win.
The Young Lions class began with Mason Massey on the pole, but Davey Matthews soon jumped ahead on the second lap. Following a restart due to caution, Finchum used a perfectly-timed start to take the lead and held the advantage to the finish line for his second-straight win.
Wyatt Simic was in front to start the Bandolero Promoter's Choice race, but Tyler Mosley shot ahead on the first lap. With one lap remaining, Joey Padgett used a push to take the lead and claim his first Thursday Thunder win.
The Legends Promoter's Choice race featured Bill Stevens on the pole, but Joey Herques blew past Stevens from the start. Herques continued to surge ahead to take the win.
Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder will return on July 9 for the sixth of 10 weeks of Legends, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing. Week six of Thursday Thunder is Joe Momma Night and all fans named Joe with bring their mother will receive free admission. For more information on Thursday Thunder or Atlanta Motor Speedway, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com .
To test drive your own Legends car, 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 Five Thursday Thunder Results:
1. Brian Meredith (Locust Grove), 2. Adam Gay (Dublin), 3. Chris Cable (Griffin), 4. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 5. Brian Weimer (Cumming), 6. Skip Nichols (Albany), DQ. Jeremy Kalina (Griffin) driving for Jim Gresham (Stockbridge).
1. Evan Bell (Buford), 2. Justin Carroll (Concord), 3. Joey Padgett (Tallahassee, Fla.), 4. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 5. Dylan Reed (Winston).
J.J. Morley Outlaws:
1. Luke Behnke (Fayetteville), 2. Garrett Smithley (Peachtree City), 3. Shannon McBride (Hampton).
1. Austin Hill (Winston), 2. Will Prance (Canton), 3. Billy Fulson (Winston), 4. Dylan Ames (Harvest, Ala.), 5. Zach Kittle (Watkinsville), 6. Currie Pierce (Griffin), 7. Kyle Kitchens (Hampton), 8. Doug Stevens (McDonough) driving for Ryan Gandee (McDonough).
1. Skip Nichols (Albany), 2. Randy Thornton (Oxford), 3. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 4. Jeff Haynie (Zebulon), 5. Rick Geddes (Newnan), 6. Brad Shelnutt (Locust Grove), 7. Don Chandler (Macon), 8. Larry Friddle (Greenville, S.C.), 9. Phillip Young, 10. John Ponzio (Tyrone), 11. Mike Abercrombie (Jackson), 12. Brian Weimer (Cumming).
1. Jonathan Chandler (Fayetteville), 2. Jake Armstrong (Fayetteville), 3. Cody Haskins (Marietta), 4. Zach Weaver (Phenix City, Ala.), 5. Robbie Woodall (McDonough), 6. Mike Weed (Franklin), 7. Mark Swan (Atlanta), 8. Bill Stevens (Locust Grove), 9. Jerry Silvers (Calhoun), 10. Chris Bowie (Douglasville), 11. Mark Younginer (Stockbridge), 12. R.S. Senter (Oakwood), 13. Scott Hicks (Senoia), 14. Melina Rolo (Cumming).
M&S Auto Bandits:
1. Kyle Weatherman (Wentzville, Mo.), 2. Ray Beebe (Fort Mills, S.C.), 3. John Holleman (Winston-Salem, N.C.), 4. Garrett Biggers (Charlotte, N.C.), 5. Madeline Crane (Meansville), 6. Jon Varga (St. Cloud, Fla.), 7. Reed Hatchety (Knoxville, Tenn.), 8. Dalton Hill (Winston), 9. Kodie Corner (Kannapolis, N.C.), 10. Michael Bell, 11. Tyler Mosley (McDonough), 12. Clayton Weatherman (Wentzville, Mo.), 13. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 14. Ryan Massaro (Glencoe, Ala.), 15. Josh Hicks (Senioa), 16. Wyatt Simic (McDonough), 17. Jensen Jorgenson (Stockbridge).
1. Chad Finchum (Knoxville, Tenn.), 2. Davey Matthews (Douglasville), 3. Donald McIntosh (Dawsonville), 4. Mason Massey (Winston), 5. Judson Kittle (Watkinsville), 6. Will Martin (Douglasville), 7. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 8. Brady Boswell (Watkinsville), 9. Joey Herques (Houma, La.) 10. A.J. Carlisi (Dalton), 11. Austin Garvey (McDonough), 12. Charlie Gresham (Milner), 13. Evan Swilling (Cohutta), 14. Cameron Hadley (Concord), 15. Jonathan Lybrand (Newnan), 16. Tyler Edwards (Acworth).
Bandolero Promoter's Choice:
1. Joey Padgett (Tallahassee, Fla.), 2. Josh Hicks (Senioa), 3. Ryan Massaro (Glencoe, Ala.), 4. Wyatt Simic (McDonough), 5. Tyler Mosley (McDonough).
Legends Promoter's Choice:
1. Joey Herques (Houma, La.), 2. Jerry Silvers (Calhoun), 3. Don Chandler (Macon), 4. Mike Abercrombie (Jackson), 5. John Ponzio (Tyrone), 6. Cameron Hadley (Concord), 7. Bill Stevens (Locust Grove).