Four weeks of preparation and tune-up has come to an end. This week, the competitors at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine will tighten the belts and prepare to make their passes down the pit-lane drag strip with championship points on the line for the first time in 2013.
The first four weeks of the season have served as a time to acclimate to the new concrete launching pad, as well as adjust to the new starter light. Many drivers also brought new or improved racing machines to the track, and the previous month of action allowed for them to have all their vehicles in prime racing shape.
This Friday night, each racer in all 18 divisions of competition will have even more on the line, as they try to get ahead of the competition in the season points standings.
Street Outlaw Division More Competitive and Faster Than Ever
One of the oldest divisions at Friday Night Drags has become one of the series' most competitive and fastest divisions in 2013.
Featuring a mix of street vehicles with drag racing modifications, the Street Outlaw division features any car or truck with stock steel appearing body. Six cylinder powered race cars with power adders also compete in this group. Four links, ladder bars and coil over shocks are allowed, in addition to any engine modification.
In the most recent FND action, Jeremy Rhodes of Hampton came out swinging, picking up the win in week four. Rhodes was gunning for week three winner Vic Vickers, who was absent from competition that night. Rhodes has challenged Vickers to be at the track this week, as the two men look to put their Ford Mustangs up against each other in front of the big crowd during week five.
With speeds picking up in 2013, thanks in part to the addition of the new concrete launching pad, parity has developed at the top of the leaderboard. Each of the first four weeks ran have produced four different winners, with Jenkinsburg's Keith Johnson taking home the trophy on opening night, followed by Locust Grove resident Russell Raines in week two. The only thing common among the winners are the Ford machines that wound up in victory lane.
Several familiar faces have yet to taste success in 2013 in the Street Outlaw division. Stockbridge's Chris Stripling, always a strong contender at Friday Night Drags, was in the thick of eliminations during week three when he suffered a mechanical failure halfway down the track. Last year's points champion Daryl Stiles has not competed yet this season, as well as previous points champion Jason "Spike" Thomas. Veteran Will Coots has also been working on a new Camaro that is ready to take on all comers this week.
With the opening of points this week, it is very likely that several drivers will make their debut to the eighth-mile drag strip and be looking to get off to a big start in the battle for an overall season points championship.
Track Clean Up Offers Merchandise Discount to Fans
Unfortunately, oil downs and track clean-up are both parts of drag racing that are sometimes experienced at Friday Night Drags. Starting this week, AMS looks to spice things up for fans when these moments do occur.
Returning this Friday, all Friday Night Drags shirts will be marked down 20 percent to $12 anytime a track clean-up is taking place. This discount will only last during the time that racing is halted due to track workers cleaning the drag strip, so the length of time will vary.
Friday Night Drags T-shirts, normally $15, come in black or grey colors for the 2013 season.
This Week and Upcoming at Friday Night Drags
Atlanta Motor Speedway asked its Friday Night Drags supporters to help the speedway determine the name of the brand new T-shirt cannon, and help they did.
Winning with 43 percent of the vote, "T-shirt Torpedo" beat out the other two names during online voting last week. Fans will need to be on the lookout this week as free souvenirs go flying into the grandstands in the form of AMS swag.
The 2013 Friday Night Drags season runs most Friday nights through Aug. 16, with the Fall Stampede taking place Sept. 13 and Sept. 20. 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 track cruise at 8:20 p.m. Drag racing eliminations begin at 9:15 p.m.
All racers ages 16 and 17 must have a fully-executed minor's release form on file at the speedway prior to competition and forms are available at the speedway or at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com. Competitors must wear a DOT-approved helmet and have operational seat belts in their vehicle and pass a pre-race safety inspection.
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.
For more information on Friday Night Drags or Atlanta Motor Speedway, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags.