Thrilling and competitive action highlighted the first race of the season in a special "Saturday Edition" of Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder on the quarter-mile "Thunder Ring".
Skip Nichols of Albany captured his 50th career Thursday Thunder win in dramatic fashion with a last lap pass of Bill Plemons Jr. of Locust Grove in the Estes Services Masters Division feature.
"Feels great to make it to victory lane," said Nichols following the win. "I feel real lucky and real proud to finally reach my 50th win of Thursday Thunder after coming to Atlanta Motor Speedway for all these years."
Nichols started from the pole and held a hefty lead through the first 15 laps, but the winningest driver in Thursday Thunder history got loose in turn four and Plemons slipped by for the lead. Nichols waited patiently and then used lap traffic on the final lap in turn three to slide to the inside where he regained the lead and drove past Plemons to victory lane.
In the Pro Challenge, Mason Massey of Douglasville held off a hard charging Woodrow Mullis along with William Plemons III of Locust Grove for the win. Massey started from the pole and led all 20 laps of the feature race.
RS Senter of Oakwood paced the field to green and held the race lead from the drop of the green flag all the way to victory lane in the Semi-Pro feature. Taylor Jorgensen of Stockbridge was able to pull away with second after an early battle with Will Martin of Douglasville. Robert Lyons of Seminole, FL passed Martin in the final laps to finish third.
After starting from the back of the field, Woodrow Mullis of Hoboken zoomed past Zach Leonhardi of Cartersville and Blake Gaither of Nashville for the lead on lap two and never looked back en route to victory in the Young Lions Feature.
Chase Purdy of Gallion, AL opened the season with a win in the 15th Street Pizza Outlaws Division. Purdy used lap traffic to slip underneath Ashton Winger of Fayetteville on lap 17 for the lead. Winger battled back on the outside over the final two laps but Purdy, from the inside lane, held on for the win.
Pole sitter Chandler Smith of Talking Rock earned the opening week win in the Bandits Division driving from the front of the field from flag to flag. A heated battle for second between Conner Youngier of Stockbridge and Lawson Ingold of Social Circle between lap eight and lap 13 ended with a caution on lap 14th. On the ensuing restart, Smith retained his race lead while Youngier opened up a sizeable margin on Ingold, which stood as the finishing order.
In a caution filled beginner Bandits feature, Lexi Gay of Canton avoided trouble all afternoon earned the win from the pole. Blaise Maddox of Locust Grove could not chase down Gay and finished in second place while Justin Bowe of Douglasville drove from the back of the field to finish third.
Thursday Thunder continues with Week 2 action on the quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" on Thursday, June 5. Feature races will begin at approximately 7:30 following the driver autograph session on the front stretch of the Speedway.
Week 1 Results
Estes Services Masters:
1. Skip Nichols (Albany), 2. Bill Plemons Jr. (Locust Grove), 3. Scott Mosley (McDonough), 4. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 5. Robbie Woodall (MdDonald), 6. Don Maness (Duluth), 7. Mark Swan (Dunwoody), 8. Mike Kennedy (Alpharetta), 9. Phillip Young (Dallas), 10. Martin Snyder (Ackworth), 11. Tony Armbruster (Covington), 12. James Meredith (McDonough)
1. Mason Massey (Douglasville), 2. William Plemons III (Locust Grove)
1. RS Senter (Oakwood), 2. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 3. Robert Lyons (Seminole, FL), 4. Will Martin (Douglasville), 5. Aaron Bailey (Hull), 6. Bailey Woodall (McDonough), 7. Miranda Meredith (Locust Grove)
1. Woodrow Mullis (Hoboken), 2. Zach Leonhardi (Cartersville), 3. Blake Gaither (Nashville), 4. ATQ - Dylan Murry (Cumming)
15th Street Pizza Outlaws
1. Chase Purdy (Gallion, AL), 2. Ashton Winger (Fayetteville), 3. Jensen Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 4. Kamera McDonald (Keller, TX), 5. Will McConnell (Dallas), 6. Hannah Bell (Raleigh, NC), 7. Tyler Pyle (Griffin), 8. Jonathan Cook (Sunny Side)
1. Chandler Smith (Talking Rock), 2. Conner Youngier (Stockbridge), 3. Lawson Ingold (Social Circle), 4. Ryan Howell (McDonough), 5. DJ Canipe (Fallston, NC), 6. Austin Geer (Johns Creek), 7. Nathan Jackson (McDonough)
1. Lexi Gay (Canton), 2. Blaise Maddox (Locust Grove), 3. Justin Bowie (Douglasville), 4. Wilder Etheredge, 5. Makenzie Woodall (McDonough), 6. Landon Scarbough (Brooks), 7. Emily Clanton (Brooks), 8. Hayden Swank (Woodstock)
Tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing series 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.