As the 2012 Thursday Thunder season hits the half-way mark this week, both Legends and Bandolero racers in each division will look to lay down good runs to propel themselves ahead for the season’s second half.

Last week’s double feature events brought a ton of exciting racing to the “Thunder Ring” and several divisions saw new winners and the points standings tighten up at the top.

The Masters division was one example of the close competition that has been seen throughout the season, as both Brian Weimer and Terry Mathis won their first races of the year last Thursday night. Weimer’s victory moved him to the top of the points standings, only three markers ahead of Skip Nichols. Mathis advanced to third in the standings, six points out of the lead while Ed Clark lurks in fourth and trails by nine points.

The Semi-Pro division featured a mix-up between the division’s best drivers as Myatt Snider and Garrett Smithley both moved within five and eight points of standings leader William Plemons III. In the second feature last week, Plemons was working toward his fourth straight win when he spun on the final lap, allowing Smithley to take home his first win of the season and inch closer to Plemons in the points standings.

Other new victors included Jenson Jorgensen (Outlaws), Brian Sutton (Buzz Cars), and Ashton Winger (Racing Radios Bandits), tightening up the points races in each of those respective divisions.

Return of the “Faster Pastor” Race This Week

Week five of Thursday Thunder will feature the annual “Faster Pastor” race, a crowd favorite race between local ministers in equally-prepared cars on the quarter-mile at AMS.

This year’s minister lineup features David Powers of Momentum Christian Church in McDonough, Jonathan Criswell from Griffin First Assembly of God, Paul Leslie with McDonough Christian Church, Paul Dennis from Royal Baptist Church in Newnan, David Butler of Hampton First Baptist Church and Jorge Gonzalez from Hampton First Baptist Church’s Hispanic Ministry.

Each church will bring a donation that goes back to the church. The pastor with the most donations will start the race on the pole, while the pastor with the fewest donations will say the evening’s invocation. Members of each church are encouraged to come out and show their support for their congregation’s leader.

Upcoming at Thursday Thunder

Fans are reminded to be sure to take part in back-to-back nights of Legends racing at AMS when Thursday Thunder hosts two nights of racing next week. A special Wednesday edition of Thursday Thunder will celebrate our nation’s independence on July 4 with a full night of racing, as well as the south side’s biggest fireworks display with the Papa John’s Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza. Thursday Thunder will then return the following night with week seven of racing on July 5.

Included with the racing and entertainment each week is concourse activities and driver autograph sessions.

Fans in attendance each week can enter to win weekly NASCAR ticket giveaways with a grand prize to be drawn on championship night, July 26. Each week through July 19, one fan will win two tickets to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, Aug. 31. During the July 26 Thursday Thunder, one lucky fan will win a trip to all three days of racing under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The grand prize winner will receive two tickets to each night of racing at AMS, weekend parking, two weekend pit passes and two pre-race party passes to the Fast Cars & Guitars pre-race concert featuring Montgomery Gentry. Fans can register each night at the information booth on the concourse.

Legends Three Day Thriller at AMS

Legends and Bandolero drivers are encouraged to take part in three nights of short track racing next week and be eligible to win some fantastic prizes as part of the Legends Three Day Thriller.

Drivers that race in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Big Money 100 on July 3 and then race at AMS on both July 4 and July 5 will be entered to win the following prizes: four AMS suite tickets to the AdvoCare 500, four CMS suite tickets to the Bank of America 500, four grandstand tickets to the AMS Labor Day race weekend, four grandstand tickets to the CMS October race weekend and a 2013 INEX license and associate license.

Points will also be accumulated for drivers competing in all three events. The top three in points will win big prizes. First place will win an engine rebuild, second place will win a new set of tires and third place will earn a fire suit and helmet (wrapped).

A family can take in an evening of racing action at Atlanta Motor Speedway for less than what it would cost to see a matinée movie. Tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing series costs just $6 for adults, $2 for children ages six through 11 and is free for children ages five and younger. All grandstand seating is smoke-free in 2012. Gates open each night at 6:00 p.m. and feature races begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/thunder.