The 17th Annual zMAX Micro-Lubricant Bandolero Nationals main feature races were held on Atlanta Motor Speedway's quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" on Saturday, June 28. The one day event showcased Bandolero qualifying, heat races and features in two divisions with the grand finale of 25-lap Championship feature events for the Bandits and Outlaws divisions. In addition, the event included Legends feature races in the Young Lions, Semi-Pro, Masters and Pro divisions that served as regional qualifiers.
Jensen Jorgensen of Stockbridge won his second consecutive Bandolero Outlaw Division National Championship in the 25-lap feature race.
"It feels amazing," said Jorgensen when asked what it was like to win two consecutive national championships. "It was a dream come true to win one, but two is just amazing."
Jorgensen started the feature race from the third position in the second row behind both Chase Purdy of Gallion, AL and Ashton Winger of Fayetteville but made his move to the front of the field on the second lap. A caution on lap three bunched up the field, but Jorgensen was able to regain the lead in turn one after he raced side-by-side with Winger for two laps.
Jorgensen did not face a challenge on the outside on two subsequent cautions as Winger, Purdy and Joshua Hicks of Senoia all choose the inside line behind Jorgensen.
"After the [final] restart, I saw them get into each other and they were racing with each other, and saw that I had two car lengths on them," said Jorgensen. "I just turned my mirror down and stopped looking back. I knew I had that race won as long as I hit my marks and was smart and that's what I did."
The defending national champion was able to drive away from the field and earn the win over the final eight laps of the race.
A strong run in qualifying as well as in heat races helped Chandler Smith of Talking Rock start from the pole in the Bandolero Bandits division National Championship feature race. Smith used that pole position to drive to the win.
"Talk about a hard run, I'm sweating to death over here," said Smith following the win. "The car felt really good today I'd like to thank Rusty Clanton for making the car good all day."
Smith wasn't rattled by the caution flag that flew for incidents in the back of the field on each of the first five laps. None of the competitors could challenge Smith on each of the ensuing restarts and the driver from Talking Rock pulled away from the field and earned the win.
The Beginner Bandolero feature saw Hayden Swank of Woodstock capture the checkered flag in the 20-lap feature. Swank started in the third spot but was able to move up through the field over the course of the race. Blaise Maddox of Locust Grove finished second while Isabella Robusto of Fort Mill, South Carolina finished third.
In the combined Young Lions and Semi Pro feature race, Woodrow Mullis of Hoboken took the checked flag of the 20 lap race as his patience helped move him to the front of the field. Zach Leonhardi of Cartersville started on the pole and pulled in front of R.S. Senter of Oakwood and held the lead through the first half of the race.
Christian Eckes of Middletown, NY moved up to the second spot and challenged Leonhardi for the lead. Leonhardi held off Eckes for four laps before the two got together in turn four, which brought out the caution and pushed both to the back of the field. In the third spot, Mullis moved to the front of the pack and rode to the win. Senter finished second while Alex Reece of Granite Falls, NC was third.
William Plemons III started from the outside pole and earn the win in the combined Masters and Pro feature as he was able to battle back for the win after he slipped back in the field early in the race. Paul Kelly, from the outside pole, took the lead off the drop of the green flag and held the lead for four laps. Plemons regained a lead that he would not relinquish with a pass in turn two to the inside past Kelly for the win.
Legends and Bandolero competitors return to the track for week seven of Thursday Thunder on the quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" on July 3rd.
1. Jensen Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 2. Chase Purdy (Gallion, AL), 3. Ashton Winger (Fayetteville), 4. Joshua Hicks (Senoia), 5. Kamera McDonald (Keller, TX), 6. Matt Mead (Erie, PA), 7. Hannah Bell (Raleigh, NC), 8. Will McConnell (Dallas), 9. Robby Douglas (Derry, NH), 10. Trevor Rizzo (Bluffton, SC), 11. Ian Sexton (Lexington, KY), 12. Jack Fread (Cornelius, NC)
1. Chandler Smith (Talking Rock), 2. Clay Thompson (Powersville), 3. Austin Geer (Johns Creek), 4. Joshua Kossek (Winston, NC), 5. Timothy Tyrrell (Mannass, VA), 6. Will Robusto (Fort Mill, SC), 7. Eddie Fatscher (North Point, NY), 8. Ryleigh Lemonds (Yorktown, VA), 9. Ryan Howell (McDonough), 10. Casey Call (Rembroke, NH), 11. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge), 12. Raleigh Lambert (Graham, NC), 13. Lawson Ingold (Social Circle), 14. Daniel Wilk (Pineville, NC), 15. DJ Canipe (Fallston, NC), 16. Roy Hayes (Erie, PA)
1. Hayden Swank (Woodstock), 2. Blaise Maddox (Locust Grove), 3. Isabella Robusto (Fort Mill, SC), 4. Samuel Oliver (The Rock), 5. George Hayes (Erie, PA), 6. Gauntt Hudgins (Savannah)
1. Robbie Woodall (McDonald), 3. Philip Young (Dallas), 4. Martin Snyder (Kennesaw), 5. Tony Armbruster (Covington)
1. William Plemons III. 2. Paul Kelly (Pendergrass)
1. R.S. Senter (Oakwood), 2. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 3. Will Martin (Douglasville), 4. Bailey Woodall (McDonough)
1. Woodrow Mullis (Hoboken), 2. Alex Reece (Granite Falls, NC), 3. Zach Leonhardi (Cartersville), 4. Christian Eckes (Middletown, NY), 5. Mason Diaz (Manassa, VA)
Tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing series Thursday Thunder costs just $6 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 through 11 and is free for children ages 5 and younger. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
To test drive your own Legends machine, or for more information about Legends racing, call Legends of Georgia director Dwight Pilgram at (770) 707-2977 or visit www.legendsofga.com.