The Legends and Bandolero cars took to the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring” at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday to tune up for the 2012-13 Winter Flurry season with off-season racing. The two series also ran the 2012 Legends and Bandolero Invitational events, featuring the best of the best from the 2012 racing season.
Alton Clark got the day’s racing underway as the pole sitter in the Outlaws feature. He was quickly pressured from Taylor Jorgensen for the top spot, and Jorgensen was able to move past him for the lead with four laps completed. The lead wouldn’t last long for Jorgensen, as Clark moved back around her on the next lap. On the same lap, Katelyn Weatherly went for a spin in turn four, bringing out the first caution. With that lap not being completed, Jorgensen would restart out front and began to put some distance between herself and Clark. Clark soon found himself under attack from Jenson Jorgensen in third place. With 15 laps complete, Jenson moved past Clark with a small bump from behind in turn four. The next lap, Christopher Clanton went around in turn two, placing the field under the caution again. The restart saw the Jorgensen brother-sister duo restart at the front of the field. With one lap remaining, Clark and Eli Bailey got together racing for position, and the caution was displayed once again. This set up a green-white-checkered restart, and Taylor Jorgensen pulled away from brother Jenson for the victory.
Doug Stevens started out front of the combined Pro and Masters feature, with Ed Clark being the top-starting Masters driver in fifth. By the completion of the eighth lap, Stevens was under heavy pressure for the lead from fellow Pro driver Taylor Hull. Hull got close, but Stevens would pull back away in the waning laps to claim the win. All four Pro racers would finish ahead of the Masters drivers, with Brian Weimer coming home as the top-finishing Masters competitor.
The Bandits feature began with Chandler Smith pacing the field to the green flag. On the first lap, Joshua Hicks moved around Smith on the backstretch to take the lead. With four laps in the books, Lee Hodges spun up against the backstretch wall to place the field under the yellow flag. On the restart, Ashton Winger got a huge run exiting turn two to move past Hicks to grab the lead. But after a few laps, Hicks reeled Winger in and moved back to the point with 14 laps in the books. Hicks would open up his lead en route to taking the checkered flag.
The Semi-Pro feature rolled off the grid with Luke Behnke as the leader. Billy Stevenson went around in turn four with five laps compete, placing the field under the caution. Following the restart, Myatt Snider used the erased Behnke lead to move past him for the lead. One lap later, Aaron Bailey spun exiting turn two, bringing out the caution for the second time. Snider restarted as the leader and was quickly under siege from Behnke for the top spot. Justin Thomas also joined the fight in the third position. With 10 laps complete, Chris Payne looped his machine in turn two for the third caution of the feature event. Following the restart, the bunched-up field made for exciting racing at the front of the field. Behnke was in progress of making a pass for the lead when Stevenson went around again, bringing out another caution period. With the lap incomplete, Snider went back to the point. On the restart, Behnke went back on the attack, pressuring Snider for the top spot. Snider would pull away just enough to hang on and beat Behnke to the finish line. William Plemons III completed an impressive charge to come home third.
The Young Lions feature took the green flag with Madeline Crane out front. Crane and Will Fagan quickly pulled away from the rest of the field, with Fagan right in Crane’s tire tracks. With nine laps complete, Fagan moved around the inside of Crane to grab the lead. With 15 laps in the books, Fagan and Crane crashed on the backstretch while racing for the lead to bring out the caution. The red flag was displayed to remove the cars from the racing surface. Due to the wreck, Joey Padgett inherited the lead for the restart. On the first lap of green racing, Tyler Audie was moved out of the groove and stalled in the grass, placing the field under the yellow flag for the second time. On the restart, Padgett pulled away and held off fellow Floridian Jordan Black to claim the win.
After a brief intermission, the first segment of the 2012 Legends Invitational began. Terry Mathis brought the field down for the start. Joey Padgett quickly got past the Mathis machine for the lead with three laps in the books. After seven laps, Mathis got into Alex Coffey as the two raced for position, bringing out the caution. Evan Bell quickly went on the attack following the restart, wrestling the lead away from Padgett. Taylor Hull used the opportunity to move into second and began to pressure Bell. With 13 laps completed, Riley Thornton and Myatt Snider got together in turn one, causing both to spin. The field went under the caution for the second time with Bell remaining out front. With 18 laps complete, Coffey spun Riley Thornton down the backstretch for the third caution of the event. After 20 laps, the yellow flag was displayed to bring the first segment to an end. Evan Bell would go to the pits as the leader.
The 2012 Bandolero Invitational, a 25-lap event, rolled off the grid with Chandler Smith out front. After two laps, Connor Younginer and Christopher Clanton got together on the backstretch, spinning both. The caution was displayed for the first time. With five laps complete, a multi-car crash between Clanton, Younginer and Abigail Marin brought out the second caution of the event. The caution broke up a fierce battle for the lead between Smith and Taylor Jorgensen. One lap after the restart, Joshua Hicks sent Alton Clark around for a spin, and the field went under the yellow flag for the third time. With five laps remaining, Jorgensen started to move in on Smith and size him up for a pass. With three circuits left, Ashton Winger got into Clark to bring out the caution once again. Smith would hang on to beat both Hicks and Jorgensen to the finish line to win the 2012 Bandolero Invitational.
The 15-lap second-half of the Legends Invitational began with Evan Bell out front. With five laps in the books, Doug Stevens eased past Bell for the top spot. Stevens would pull away from Bell and Taylor Hull to win the 2012 Legends Invitational.
Following the afternoon’s racing events, the 2012 Thursday Thunder awards banquet was held inside the speedway’s media center. Each division’s top-five points finishers were honored and several special awards were handed out. The special awards included: Most Improved Driver - Riley Thornton; Bandolero Rookie of the Year - Eli Bailey; Legends Rookie of the Year - Jay Coen; Top Dog of the Year - Amber Fleeman; Family Award - Massey Family; Joey Logano Breakthrough Driver of the Year - Chandler Smith; Reed Sorenson Most Popular Driver - Evan Bell; David Ragan Sportsman of the Year - Christopher Clanton; President’s Award - Doug Stevens.
Short-track racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 6 with off-season Legends and Bandolero racing. A limited number of infield passes will be available at the Security Command building near the speedway’s main entrance. Infield access costs just $12 for adults, $5 for children ages six through 11 and admission is free for children ages five and younger. Cost to race is just $25. Minors and their guardians are required to complete a minor waiver before children ages 17 and younger can enter the infield. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
To test drive your own Legends machine, or for more information about Legends racing, call Legends of Georgia director Dwight Pilgram at (770) 707-2977 or visit www.legendsofga.com.
Sept. 15 Race Results:
1. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 2. Jenson Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 3. Christopher Clanton (Brooks), 4. Eli Bailey (Johns Creek), 5. Alton Clark (Newnan), 6. Katelyn Weatherly (McDonough), 7. Miranda Meredith (Locust Grove)
Pro and Masters:
1. Doug Stevens (Williamson), 2. Taylor Hull (Winston), 3. A.J. Carlisi (Dalton), 4. Dakota Baggette (Lakeland, Fla.), 5. Brian Weimer* (Cumming), 6. Ed Clark* (Peachtree City), 7. Mike Kennedy* (Alpharetta), 8. Terry Mathis* (Cumming)
*denotes Masters drivers
1. Joshua Hicks (Senoia), 2. Ashton Winger (Fayetteville), 3. Chandler Smith (Talking Rock), 4. Zach Leonhardi (Smyrna), 5. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge), 6. Abigail Marin (Peachtree City), 7. Lee Hodges (Valdosta)
1. Myatt Snider (Charlotte, N.C.), 2. Luke Behnke (Fayetteville), 3. William Plemons III (Locust Grove), 4. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 5. Mike Weed (Franklin), 6. Anthony Cataldi (Umatilla, Fla.), 7. Chad Davis (Bethpage, Tenn.), 8. Jami Weimer (Cumming), 9. Billy Stevenson (Locust Grove), 10. Hub Talbot (Smyrna), 11. Chris Payne (Smyrna), 12. Aaron Bailey (Hull), 13. Jason Lynn (Sugar Hill), 14. Jay Coen (Dacula)
1. Joey Padgett (Tallahassee, Fla.), 2. Jordan Black (Winter Springs, Fla.), 3. Riley Thornton (Peachtree City), 4. Michael Torres (Apopka, Fla.), 5. Tyler Audie (Orlando, Fla.), 6. Trevin Aswarnauth (Loganville), 7. Megan Younginer (Stockbridge), 8. Blake Gaither (Nashville), 9. Will Fagan (Cumming), 10. Madeline Crane (Meansville), 11. Ashley Pyle (Douglasville), Evan Bell* (Buford)
*attempted to qualify
2012 Bandolero Invitational:
1. Chandler Smith (Talking Rock), 2. Joshua Hicks (Senoia), 3. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 4. Jenson Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 5. Zach Leonhardi (Smyrna), 6. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge), 7. Abigail Marin (Peachtree City), 8. Ashton Winger (Fayetteville), 9. Alton Clark (Newnan), 10. Christopher Clanton (Brooks)
2012 Legends Invitational:
1. Doug Stevens (Williamson), 2. Evan Bell (Buford), 3. Taylor Hull (Winston), 4. Myatt Snider (Charlotte, N.C.), 5. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 6. Jordan Black (Winter Springs, Fla.), 7. Luke Behnke (Fayetteville), 8. Brian Weimer (Cumming), 9. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 10. Dakota Baggette (Lakeland, Fla.), 11. Jami Weimer (Cumming), 12. Mike Weed (Franklin), 13. Riley Thornton (Peachtree City), 14. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 15. Joey Padgett (Tallahassee, Fla.), 16. Terry Mathis (Cumming), 17. A.J. Carlisi (Dalton), Madeline Crane* (Meansville), Will Fagan* (Cumming), William Plemons III* (Locust Grove)
*did not start