Despite being among the more seasoned racers at Atlanta Motor Speedway's O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine, McDonough's Gary Thomas came into the 2014 with a degree of uncertainty.
After competing in the past within the Super Pro division at the popular drag racing series, Thomas adapted his car to race in the Street Outlaw class. The change forced Thomas to run a smaller-sized tire on his car.
Thomas has not missed a beat. He currently leads the division points standings and is six points ahead of Stockbridge's Andrew Pride, who races a 1985 Chevrolet S-10. Thomas has won a total of four final-round eliminations this season including three of the past four events.
"I really didn't come to run for the points this year. I used to run Super Pro, I put small tires on it and see what it would run," Thomas said of his car. "I think I've surprised a bunch of people out here."
Two Points Events Remain In 2014 Season
The pursuit of a season championship on the pit lane drag strip is drawing to a close as two points events remain in the 2014 season. Points champions will be determined following the Aug. 15 points championship night at O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags. All division champions will be introduced on the pre-race stage prior to the Labor Day Weekend NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Atlanta 500 on Aug. 31.
One of the most competitive points races is in the Domestic Advanced division. In this class, a trio of drivers have asserted themselves as frontrunners for most of the season. Hampton's Jason Kinard in a 1997 Chevrolet S-10 holds a three-point lead ahead of Stephen DeFayette from Sharpsburg, in a 1988 Mazda RX7. Terry Bates of Locust Grove is four points out of the first place in a 1988 Ford Mustang. He closed the gap on the strength of last Friday's final-round win on double points night.
Path2College 529 Savings Plan Power Wheels Races This Friday
The kids will take center stage on Friday as the Path2College 529 College Savings Plan presents the Power Wheel Races. The Power Wheel races will allow children ages 12 & under to race in their battery-powered car, truck or motorcycle.
The Power Wheel races will take place in the grass ball field area near the drag race starting line at 8:30 p.m. Kids wishing to participate should be in this area with their Power Wheel and ready to race following the Speedway Cruise. All participants will receive an award.
The 2014 Friday Night Drags season runs Friday nights through August 15, with the Fall Stampede taking place September 12 and September 19. Practice runs begin at 6:15 p.m. and grandstand gates open at 6:30 p.m. Show-N-Shine car show judging begins at 6:15 p.m. with a Speedway Parade at 8:05 p.m. Drag racing eliminations begin after 9 p.m.
Drag Racing is open to any licensed driver. Competitors must wear a DOT-approved helmet and have operational seat belts in their vehicle. All racers ages 16 and 17 must have a fully-executed minor's release form on file at the speedway prior to competition. Forms are available at the Speedway or at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
Entry to drag race or for the Show-N-Shine is $20 or competitors can enter both for $30. Spectator admission is only $8 with children five and under free. Exterior parking is free while infield parking is $20.
Fans are reminded that Atlanta Motor Speedway offers a non-smoking grandstand. Smoking is allowed in designated areas behind the grandstands or the infield, but not in the grandstands, concourse or seating areas.
For more information on O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags.