The penultimate round of Atlanta Motor Speedway's short-track racing program, Thursday Thunder featured drivers clamoring for every position as competitors are battling to determine who will be the 2011 Thursday Thunder champion in their respective classes.
The Semi-Pro feature got underway with Mike Weed in the lead. On lap two, Tyler Armstrong worked his way to the top spot. In turn one on lap six, William Plemons III stuck his nose to the inside of Armstrong to become the race leader. Plemons led the remainder of the circuits to capture his fifth win in nine starts this summer and now trails points leader Luke Behnke by only four points leading into the final week.
Tina Johnson paced the filed to the green flag to begin the Masters feature. Points leader Terry Mathis shot by Johnson coming to lap three to become the leader. Mathis went on to collect his third win of season. Mathis leads Bill Plemons Jr. by only two points leading into week ten.
Madeline Crane was the pole sitter for the Morley Company Outlaws feature. Crane, the only driver to snap points leader Parker Barnes' winning streak this year, got a great start and jumped ahead of the field in the early going of the race. A caution on lap ten tightened up the field with Barnes in the second spot for the restart. Barnes raced his way to the front on lap 12. Barnes and Crane swapped the lead back and forth in the final laps; however Barnes crossed the finish line first to seize his eight wins in nine starts this Thursday Thunder season. All Barnes has to do is start next week's event to claim the 2011 title.
The Roadsters feature started with Chris Holcomb as the leader. Ed Clark got out front immediately. Skip Nichols challenged Clark on lap 10, but Clark fought to hold him off. On the final lap coming into turn four, Nichols got a fender to Clark's bumper, causing him to get loose which set up a drag race to the finish line with Clark battling back to snatch his second Thunder Roadster win in the 2011 Thursday Thunder season.
Chandler Smith took the green flag to set off the Papa John's Bandits feature. A multi-car wreck coming to lap one in turn four brought out the caution. Since the first lap had not been completed, it set up a double-file restart. On lap 14, Layton Sullivan tried to challenge for the lead. Smith battled back and Sullivan hooked Smith's bumper in turn two, spinning both cars out and Ashton Winger inherited the top spot. Winger had trouble in the final turn, giving up the win to Zach Leonhardi, his first Thursday Thunder win ever which qualified him for the Labor Day Invitational race held Sept. 2 during the AdvoCare 500 weekend.
The Young Lions feature kicked off with Alex Coffey out front. Evan Bell leapt past Coffey to gain the early advantage. Bell spun on his own on lap 11, giving second-place Justin Thomas the front spot for the restart. Points leader Mason Massey delivered a bump-and-run to pass Thomas on lap 16. Massey scored his sixth win this season and his 15th career Thursday Thunder trophy.
The Pro feature launched with Taylor Hull on the pole. Hull ran the perfect race, leading every lap to post his third win this summer.
Tim Brotzge was the leader for the start of the Buzz Cars feature. On the first lap, Buddy Brewer shoved his way to the front. After a caution period due to a spin on the track, Gary Zajdek moved his way to the front after the restart. Zajdek held on to log his second win this season.
Short-track racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday, August 4 for the final round of the ten-week Thursday Thunder summer short-track racing series. Next week features NASCAR veteran Joey Clanton competing in the Roadsters division, the Strong Rock Christian School race challenge and the crowing of the 2011 Thursday Thunder champions. 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. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
For more information on Buzz Cars racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Events Department at (770) 946-3954.
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.
1. William Plemons III (Locust Grove), 2. Luke Behnke (Fayetteville), 3. Tyler Armstrong (Senoia), 4. Mike Weed (Franklin), 5. Casey Willingham (Ball Ground), 6. Jordan Coker (Powder Springs), 7. Hub Talbot (Smyrna), 8. C.J. Pucko (Covington), 9. Mark Younginer (Stockbridge).
1. Terry Mathis (Cumming), 2. Bill Plemons, Jr. (Forsyth), 3. Skip Nichols (Albany), 4. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 5. Phillip Young (Dallas), 6. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 7. Mike Kennedy (Alpharetta), 8. Mark Swan (Atlanta), 9. Chris Holcomb (Alpharetta).
Morley Company Outlaws:
1. Parker Barnes (Roswell), 2. Madeline Crane (Meansville), 3. Walker Yates (Clemmons, N.C.), 4. Riley Thornton (Peachtree City), 5. John Curtiss (Columbus), 6. John Holleman (Winston-Salem, N.C.), 7. Tyler Mosley (McDonough), 8. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 9. Amber Fleeman (Dacula), 10. Christopher Clanton (Brooks), 11. Jenson Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 12. Keith Sinkuln (Palm City, Fla.), 13. Alton Clark (Newman), 14. Christian Thom (Peachtree City), 15. Mark Younginer (Stockbridge).
1. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 2. Skip Nichols (Albany), 3. Chris Holcomb (Alpharetta).
Papa John's Bandits:
1. Zach Leonhardi (Smyrna), 2. Layton Sullivan (Gaffney, S.C.), 3. Joshua Hicks (Senoia), 4. Ashton Winger (Fayetteville), 5. Austin Geer (Johns Creek), 6. Chandler Smith (Talking Rock), 7. Reid Morris (Carrollton), 8. Abigail Marin (Peachtree City), 9. Devon Barnes (Roswell), 10. Chambers McGilberry (Slema, La.), 11. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge), 12. Steven Johns (Forestville, N.C.).
1. Mason Massey (Douglasville), 2. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 3. Will Fagan (Cumming), 4. Anderson Bowen (Suwanee), 5. Grant Crane (Zebulon), 6. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 7. Evan Bell (Buford), 8. Austin Garvey (McDonough), 9. John Tullis (Dacula), 10. Woodrow Mullis (Hoboken), 11. Trevin Aswarnauth (Loganville).
1. Taylor Hull (Winston), 2. Doug Stevens (Lovejoy), 3. Sean Rayhall (Winston), 4. Jimmy Henderson (Conyers), 5. Jeff Haynie (Zebulon), 6. Adam Gay (Dublin), 7. Kyle Plott (Marietta).
1. Gary Zajdek (Covington), 2. Scott Kasparek (Sharpsburg), 3. Buddy Brewer (Griffin), 4. Michael Karp (Woodstock), 5. Josh Ballard (Hampton), 6. Tim Brotzge (Griffin), 7. Doug Frazier, 8. Timmy Bishop (Jonesboro).