The 14th season launched with eight classes of feature racing, first time winners and one competitor continuing to set Thursday Thunder history. In addition to the action-packed racing, fans were also treated to the Jersey Thunder Jet Car.
Drivers were also eager for a win which would provide them an entry into the Labor Day Invitational, which is AMS' version of an All-Star race for Bandolero / Legends cars. The race will be held on Sept. 2, 2011 during the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR race weekend.
Bill Plemons, Jr. started out front for the Masters feature. On the first lap in the third turn, Skip Nichols hooked the rear of Plemons turning him around and giving Nichols the lead. Nichols led every circuit to post his 30th career Thursday Thunder win and continue to stretch his lead of having the most Thursday Thunder wins in the series history.
Zach Leonhardi paced the field to the green for the Papa John's Bandits feature. On lap three in the third turn, Joshua Hicks got a nose to the inside of Leonhardi to nab the top spot. Two laps later, Hicks made contact with Connor Younginer, giving the lead to Ashton Winger. Hicks worked his way up and on lap 13, used lapped traffic to pass Winger. Seven laps later, Hicks captured his first career Thursday Thunder trophy.
The Semi-Pro feature got underway with Jordan Coker as the leader. William Plemons III shot to the front on lap one and led every lap to seize the win.
Josh Ballard kicked off the Buzz Cars feature as the point man. Alan Nolan in homage to the No. 10 Nesquik paint scheme got up to the front quickly. Debris on lap six brought out the caution flag, bunching up the field. Michael Karp muscled his way to the lead on lap eight. Dave Sherman and Karp swapped the lead back and forth for the remaining laps and on the last lap, Sherman drove it in deep for the lead, but ended up making contact with Buddy Brewer and allowing Michael Karp to snag the win.
The Young Lions feature opened with Justin Thomas in the lead. By the time the first circuit was turned, Josh Morris was the point man. Morris was penalized two positions for scrubbing his tires under caution, so Benjamin Rhodes inherited the lead. On the last lap, Morris nudged Rhodes to make the pass and stole the win. It was Morris' first Thursday Thunder win in his first start in the series.
James Meredith started out front in the Roadsters feature, but on the first lap, Taylor Hull became the race leader as Meredith had trouble with his car. On lap 11, Nichols used his bumper to get by Hull and collect the win. Nichols used two bump and runs during week one to pad his records in the Thursday Thunder history books, picking up his 31st career Thursday Thunder trophy.
The Outlaws feature began with Madeline Crane on the pole. Early on, Parker Barnes stole the top spot from Crane. Tyler Mosley and Taylor Jorgensen spun in turn two on lap 13, bringing out the caution. On the restart, Barnes remained in control and went on to score his second career Thursday Thunder victory.
Darrell Wallace took the green flag to initiate the Pro feature. Around lap nine, the top five cars were swapping positions and battling hard for position. Wallace continued to hold the field off, grabbing his first Legends win at Thursday Thunder after a five-year hiatus from competition.
Four drivers gained entries into the Labor Day Invitational with wins in week one: Skip Nichols, William Plemons III, Josh Morris and Darrell Wallace.
Short-track racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday, June 9 for the week two of the 2011 Thursday Thunder summer short-track racing series featuring the Race Fan Drag Race. 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. Skip Nichols (Albany), 2. Terry Mathis (Cumming), 3. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 4. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 5. Brad Shelnutt (Locust Grove), 6. Chris Holcomb (Alpharetta), 7. Mark Swan (Athens), 8. Bill Plemons, Jr. (Forsyth), 9. Mike Kennedy (Alpharetta).
Papa John's Bandits:
1. Joshua Hicks (Senoia), 2. Ashton Winger (Fayetteville), 3. Zach Leonhardi (Smyrna), 4. Devon Barnes (Roswell), 5. Chandler Smith (Talking Rock), 6. Reid Morris (Carrollton), 7. Chase Evans (Auburn), 8. Abigail Marin (Peachtree City), 9. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge), 10. Chambers McGilberry (Selma, Ala.). 11. Austin Geer (Johns Creek).
1. William Plemons III (Locust Grove), 2. Luke Behnke (Fayetteville), 3. Jake Armstrong (Senoia), 4. Jordan Coker (Powder Springs), 5. Casey Willingham (Ballground), 6. Michael Buckner (Conyers), 7. Mark Younginer (Stockbridge), 8. Hub Talbot (Smyrna),
9. C.J. Pucko (Covington).
1. Michael Karp (Woodstock), 2. Dave Sherman, 3. Buddy Brewer (Griffin), 4. Scott Kasparek (Sharpsburg), 5. Josh Ballard (Hampton), 6. Alan Nolan (Hartwell), 7. Taylor Hull (Newnan).
1. Josh Morris (Fredericksburg), 2. Benjamin Rhodes (Louisville, Ky.), 3. CJ Husley (El Paso, Texas), 4. Anderson Bowen (Suwanee), 5. Grant Crane (Zebulon), 6. Joey Padgett (Tallahassee, Fla.), 7. Camron Ray (Hernando, Fla.), 8. Mason Massey (Douglasville), 9. Austin Garvey (McDonough), 10. Will Fagan (Cumming), 11. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 12. Jami Weimer (Cumming), 13. Tye Mihocko (Peoria, Ariz.), 14. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 15. Trevin Aswarnauth (Loganville), 16. Austin Cindric (Mooresville, N.C.), 17. Evan Bell (Buford).
1. Skip Nichols (Albany), 2. Taylor Hull (Winston), 3. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 4. James Meredith (Locust Grove).
1. Parker Barnes (Roswell), 2. Madeline Crane (Meansville), 3. John Curtiss (Columbus), 4. Amber Fleeman (Dacula), 5. Christian Thom (Peachtree City), 6. Jenson Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 7. Alton Clark (Newnan), 8. Tyler Mosley (McDonough), 9. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 10. Christopher Clanton (Brooks), 11. Riley Thornton (Peachtree City).
1. Darrell Wallace (Concord, N.C.), 2. Evan Swilling (Cohutta), 3. Sean Rayhall (Winston), 4. Taylor Hull (Winston), 5. Brady Boswell (Watkinsville), 6. R.S. Senter (Oakwood), 7. Austin Hill (Winston), 8. Jeff Haynie (Zebulon).