Atlanta Motor Speedway's sixth week of Thursday Thunder was highlighted by gutsy passes, fantastic finishes and the drama typical of short-track racing on Atlanta Motor Speedway's "Thunder Ring."
Shannon McBride held the advantage to start the combined classes of Young Guns and J.J. Morley Outlaws, but Joey Padgett jumped ahead immediately. With no respect for Joey on Joe Momma Night at Thursday Thunder, Garrett Smithley swiftly passed Padgett. However, Evan Bell surged ahead in the race's final laps and held the advantage through the checkered flag for the win.
Among J.J. Morley Outlaws, Garrett Smithley finished first to claim the win, his first of the season. Smithley's win broke Luke Behnke's five-race winning streak, also cutting into Behnke's class lead.
Bringing the field of Pro competitors to the starting line, Kyle Kitchens held the lead, but Zach Kittle and Billy Fulson quickly moved to the front. Despite Fulson nipping at Kittle's heels through the opening half of the feature, Kittle started inching ahead in the final laps for the win. The victory marked his second of the year.
The Masters feature race began with Phillip Young leading the pack. Ed Clark nosed ahead of Young on the second lap, but Skip Nichols took the lead by utilizing the inside line exiting turn four. Jeff Haynie was closing on Nichols, when a caution brought the field together. Now directly on Nichols' bumper, Haynie used a last-lap pass to claim his fourth win of the year and pad his points lead.
Melina Rolo led the Semi-Pro division to the start from the pole, but Dennis Kiser dove to the inside exiting turn four for the lead. Kiser soon built an impressive lead, but a caution tightened the field. Kiser resumed his role dominating the field, when a second caution brought the field together again. On the restart, Jonathan Chandler stayed tight on Kiser and slipped past one lap later for the lead and, eventually, the win.
One week after his brother Clayton won the pole, Kyle Weatherman captured the heat race win for the M&S Auto Bandits, but Jenson Jorgenson started the race following the inversion. Jorgensen was quickly passed by Madeline Crane, who was subsequently overtaken by Dalton Hill. Following a caution and restart, Hill and Kyle Weatherman darted to the front, with the points leader, Weatherman, pushing to the lead. After a second restart, Weatherman and Hill again left the field in their wake. Competing among each other for the win, Weatherman prevailed for his fourth M&S Auto Bandits win of the year.
The Young Lions feature started with Charlie Gresham leading the field, but Gresham spun on the first lap and relinquished the lead to Donald McIntosh. The first-lap spin left Gresham with a broken car, drawing a caution. On the following restart, McIntosh held his lead position, but points leader Chad Finchum started closing with each consecutive lap and passed for the lead on the 11th lap. After yet another caution, Finchum and McIntosh resumed their two-man race, but the class leader proved untouchable and cruised to the win.
After claiming second in the Masters division, Skip Nichols sat on the pole for the Thunder Roadsters feature race, but Jeremy Kalina rapidly disposed of his competition and took the advantage from the back row. Unchallenged to the finish, Kalina took the checkered flag for the win.
Michael Bell had the advantage to start the Bandolero Promoter's Choice race. Chased from behind by Josh Hicks, Bell proved too fast and claimed his first Thursday Thunder win.
Jerry Silvers sat on the pole to start the Legends Promoter's Choice feature, but Austin Garvey passed Silvers immediately. Garvey soon built an insurmountable lead to claim his first victory at Thursday Thunder.
Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder will return on July 16 for the seventh of 10 weeks of Legends, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing. Week seven of Thursday Thunder will play host to the annual Faster Pastor race. Featuring local church leaders from around the community, the Faster Pastors will compete for the title of fastest church leader, in addition to the right to give the invocation before the Pep Boys Auto 500. 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.