This week, mid-season Friday Night Drags championships will be awarded to points leaders at the conclusion of the evening's racing. The mid-season champions will race the second half champions on August 19 to determine the overall 2011 champion in each division.
Last week's double points racing made a major impact on many of the divisions, resulting in very tight battles. Several divisions now feature tied standings, including the Sport Bike, Pro Four, Truck and Street Outlaw. In the Diesel and Sport Compact divisions, the points leader is separated from second place by just one point.
"This week I'm going to have to race harder," says Chris Stripling, who is currently tied for the Street Outlaw points lead with Jason Thomas. "I've had two points wins and he won the double points, so I've got to work twice as hard to stay on top. I'm going to bump up the power to the car a bit more this week and go for it."
Stripling, who drives a 1987 Ford Mustang, notes that each week is important, and it all comes down to this week. "I've got to give it all or nothing if I want to stay on top," he says.
Other divisions will come down to how the cards fall for certain drivers. In the Domestic division, Ron Wiese trails Gene Daniel by two points. Wiese can claim the championship if he wins and Daniel does not advance to the final round.
In awarding points, a final round winner gets four points and a final round runner-up gets three points. A driver that falls in the semi-final round gets two points and all others receive one point.
Atlanta Motor Speedway will honor the top three drivers in each division at the end of the season. Division champions will be honored during the speedway's Labor Day AdvoCare 500 NASCAR weekend.
Sportsman Division Features Tight Competition at the Top
Aside from a close points battle as the series heads towards the Mid-Season Championships this week, the Sportsman division features one of the larger fields at Friday Night Drags.
Entering week ten of competition, four different drivers have claimed final round victory. Nicolas Fericiano of Griffin swept the first three weeks in his 1984 Mazda RS7. The next two weeks saw Bill Hatfield of Hampton win in his 1991 Ford Mustang. Among those two wins was the first points race of the season in week five. Ray Puryer of Hampton took home victory in week six with his 1991 Ford Mustang, while Jeremy Rhodes of Hampton was last week's winner in a 1989 Ford Mustang.
"This season's been going pretty good," says Hatfield. "I've got a new car this year and I've just been getting it set up for the track. At other tracks, you can slide around a bit. But if you don't get your suspension dialed in up there [at Atlanta Motor Speeedway], it's hard to win."
With one points victory each, Hatfield, Puryer and Rhodes are the top three drivers in the points standings. Hatfield leads the standings by three points over Puryer and Rhodes, who are tied for second.
MCR Safety Show-N-Shine Winners to be Honored Labor Day Weekend
MCR Safety Show-N-Shine winners not only get attention each week during Friday Night Drags, but they will also get the chance to show off their accomplishments during Atlanta Motor Speedway's Labor Day AdvoCare 500 NASCAR weekend.
First-place winners from each week's judging are eligible to participate in a car show during the pre-race festivities for the AdvoCare 500. The speedway will also host the Fast Cars and Guitars concert prior to the race, with Southern Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd taking center stage.
Each week, there is a featured class during MCR Safety Show-N-Shine, with special awards given to a select group of vehicles. This week's special MCR Safety Show-N-Shine class is Ford vehicles.
The 2011 Friday Night Drags season will run on Friday nights through Aug. 19. MCR Safety Show-N-Shine car show judging begins at 6:00 p.m. and practice drag runs begin at 6:15 p.m. Grandstand gates open at 6:30 p.m. with the drag eliminations starting at 9:09 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 MCR Safety Show-N-Shine is $20 or competitors can enter both for $30. Spectator admission is only $8 and exterior parking is free, while infield parking is $20.
For more information about Friday Night Drags and Atlanta Motor Speedway, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.