Johnson Claims Title As Thursday Thunder Concludes at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Championship night did not disappoint the enthusiastic crowd at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the final week of the 2015 Thursday Thunder season.
Tina Johnson of Senoia overcame some late race adversity to earn her first career Masters Division points championship at the "Thunder Ring".
When asked what winning the championship felt like following the race, a choked up Johnson said, "Oh gosh, you just don't know. I prayed all week for this moment and I knew I was going to break if I ended up here [victory lane]."
The emotionally charged Masters field brought out numerous caution flags throughout the feature race. With three laps remaining, Johnson and Scott Moseley of McDonough made contact in turn two and collected Bill Plemons III of Locust Grove - which forced the trio to the rear of the field.
With just three laps remaining in the feature race, it looked like Johnson's championship hopes where dashed as she was forced off the track with damage. Plemons III took the worst of the collision as his car had to be towed off. The delay gave Johnson the time needed to get her car back into shape and onto the race track without losing a lap.
Although she did not go a lap down, Johnson faced an uphill battle as she stared from the rear of the field on the ensuing restart. After a half a lap at the back, she was then the beneficiary of a trio of cautions, two on subsequent restarts and a third with two laps remaining.
Johnson followed Moseley as the pair chose their way to the front of the field while Bill Plemons Jr. of Locust Grove got shuffled back from the race lead to the rear of the pack as he was part of one of the late cautions.
Johnson and Moseley restarted on the outside while Robbie Woodall had the inside line on the final restart. Moseley was able to slip past Woodall for the feature race win while Johnson finished behind Woodall in third.
Johnson edged out Moseley by three points for the championship trophy.
"This is amazing," said Johnson. "I've worked on this for 14 years and I finally made it. Yes, it was a tough race, but that's ok because it was worth it."
In addition to the championship being the first claimed by Johnson at Thursday Thunder, it was also the first by a female driver in the Masters Division in the 18 year history of the program.
Connor Younginer of Stockbridge earned his first feature win of the year in the final race of the Thursday Thunder season in the Xtreme Fun on Wheels Outlaw division as he pulled away from Joshua Hicks of Senoia following the final caution of the race. Younginer then outraced Hicks over the final three laps to earn the win.
A handful of cautions slowed the pace of the race which included the caution with three laps left in the race which knocked division champion Ashton Higgins of Weaverville, North Carolina out of the race. Higgins entered Week 8 action with an 80 point lead and finished with a 72-point lead over second place Hayden Swank of Woodstock, who finished third in the feature race.
William Martin notched his third win of the season and captured the Allred Family Dentistry Semi-Pro/Young Lion division championship. Martin raced patiently over the first dozen laps to stay within striking distance of the lead. The Douglasville, Georgia, native made his more with two laps remaining when he slipped underneath Jensen Jorgensen of Stockbridge exiting turn four to take the lead. Martin was then able to hold off Jorgensen over the final lap to earn the win.
After a trio of cautions over the first four laps, DJ Canipe settled into a rhythm and cruised to his sixth feature race win of the season and captured his first Thursday Thunder points championship on the way in the Bandits division. Canipe started from the point and held off Clay Thompson of Bowersville and Blaise Maddox of Locust Grove for the race win.
Ryan Younginer followed his brother to victory lane with his second feature race win of the season. Samuel Oliver and River Allen finsihed second and third respectivley in the Beginner Bandolero feature race.
1. Scott Moseley (McDonough), 2. Robbie Woodall (McDonough), 3. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 4. Bill Plemons Jr. (Locust Grove), 5. Mark Swan (Dunwoody), 6. Phillip Young (Dallas), 7. Mike Kennedy (Alpharetta), 8. Willie Gray (Cartersville), 9. Wes Potter (Covington), 10. Randy Shubert (Conyers), 11. Dennis Hecht (Hoschton), 12. R.S. Senter (Oakwood), 13. William Plemons III (Locust Grove), 14. Spencer Moseley (McDonough)
2015 Champion: Tina Johnson (Senoia)
1. DJ Canipe (Fallston, NC), 2. Clay Thompson (Bowersville), 3. Blaise Maddox (Locust Grove), 4. Will Robusto (Fort Mill, SC), 5. Ryan Howell (McDonough), 6. Isabella Robusto (Fort Mill, SC), 7. Nathan Jackson (McDonough), 8. Noah Dominy (Stathum)
2015 champion: DJ Canipe (Fallson, NC)
Allred Family Dentistry Semi-Pro/Young Lions
1. William Martin (Douglasville), 2. Jensen Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 3. Dylan Murry (Cumming), 4. Jordan Coker (Poweder Springs), 5. Brandon Brock (Hampton), 6. Russell Fleeman (Dacula), 7. Sebastian Arias (Flowery Branch), 8. Amber Fleeman (Dacula), 9. Hannah Bell (Raleigh, NC), 10. Nicolas Waters (Senoia), 11. Christopher Clanton (Brooks), 12. Taylor Jorgense (Stockbridge)-DNS
2015 Champion: William Martin (Douglasville)
1. Ryan Younginer (Stockbridge), 2. Samuel Oliver (The Rock), 3. River Allen (Hiram), 4. Dawson O'Connor (Stockbridge), 5. Cameron Potter (Covington), 6. Keaton Hendrix (Homerville)-DQ
Xtreme Fun on Wheels Outlaws
1. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge), 2. Joshua Hicks (Senoia), 3. Hayden Swank (Woodstock), 4. Gauntt Hudgins (Savannah), 5. Trey Tadrzak (Stockbridge), 6. Ashton Higgins (Weaverville, NC), 7. Ricky Springer (McDonough)
2015 Champion: Ashton Higgins (Weaverville, NC)
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