Double feature races were scheduled to highlight the seventh and eighth weeks of Thursday Thunder short track racing on the “Thunder Ring” at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but persistent rains shortened the event, allowing only one set of feature races to be completed
.July 5 saw one event make it in the books as the Pro division completed their race, with Taylor Hull holding off Mason Massey for the win. The remaining feature races were moved to this week’s edition of Thursday Thunder to be the first set of double feature races on the quarter-mile track. Normally 20 lap feature races, these were shortened to 15 laps due to impending weather.
The Shane’s Rib Shack Young Lions division kicked the evening’s racing off as Alex Coffey jumped to the lead from the pole position. Under heavy pressure, Coffey surrendered the lead to Florida native Joey Padgett on lap three, while several drivers battled behind them for third place. The following lap, Blake Gaither went around in turn four to bring out the caution. On the single file restart, Padgett tried to slip away from Coffey, but soon had new problems in the form of points leader Evan Bell. Bell and Coffey exchanged bumps, which moved Bell back to the fourth position. With a slight push from Bell, Will Fagan was able to move into the second position on lap nine. Two laps later, Gaither spun again to bring out the yellow flag and erase Padgett’s lead. On the restart with two laps remaining, Fagan eased to the lead. But on the final lap, Fagan slid wide exiting turn four, giving Bell enough room to rocket past and hang on for the win, his third of the year. The victory also allowed him to extend his lead in the championship points standings.
Zach Leonhardi used the pole position in the Racing Radios Bandits division to jump to an early lead, but it did not last long. In the third turn of the first lap, Austin Geer and Reid Morris made contact, spinning them both and placing the field under the yellow flag. The incident also collected Jonathan Martin, who then had to retire from the event. The early caution led to a full field restart, where Leonhardi once again got out front of the pack. Joshua Hicks immediately began to reel in Leonhardi and started to pressure him for the point. Connor Younginer and Lee Hodges got together in turn two for the second caution of the event, which retired Younginer. On the restart, Zachary Dabbs quickly moved to the inside of Ashton Winger for the third position, but points leader Chandler Smith was able to move past when Dabbs slid high. Lap four saw Hicks chase Leonhardi down and move past for the lead, but Leonhardi did not relinquish it without a fight, as the two battled hard for a few circuits. While they battled, Lee Hodges spun in front of them, which required evasive action by the leaders to avoid a collision. On the ensuing restart, the field spread out a bit but Smith began to move towards the front and worked his way into second on lap seven. With two laps remaining in the race, Hodges spun again for another caution period. This bunched the field up for a two lap shootout to settle the race. On the restart, Hicks slid high exiting turn two and allowed Smith to move underneath for the lead. Smith led at the white flag while Hicks hung tough in the high line. The points leader had just enough steam to power across the line a car length ahead of Hicks for the victory, his fourth of the season
The Masters feature began with Ed Clark leading the field to the green flag. Clark executed a great jump on the start to put some distance between himself and second place Terry Mathis. The field spread out early on, as the experienced Masters drivers acclimated to the track conditions and sized up the competition. After a few laps, Mathis began to reel in the “Gone Fishing” machine of Clark, heating up the battle at the front. While the two raced, this allowed Tina Johnson and Scott Mosley, who was substitute driving for Skip Nichols, to creep into the picture. It wouldn’t be enough, as Clark would hold the whole field off to take the checkered flag. Clark earned his third trophy of the season, the most of all drivers in the Masters division.
North Carolina’s Tyler Lester brought the Outlaws division down to the green flag to start their feature event. Three wide action was the name of the game early on as points leader Taylor Jorgensen quickly moved towards the front, picking up three spots and moving into the top five by the conclusion of the first lap. Taylor’s brother Jenson was able to make some more noise for the family as he moved into second on the next lap. Meanwhile, Taylor continued her march to the front, rocketing past Alton Clark on the outside and then sliding by Chase Purdy. By lap four, she had moved past brother Jenson for second and was quickly moving in on Lester, who was hampered by lapped traffic. A few laps later, while dealing with more lapped cars, Taylor placed her machine on the bumper of the leader, taking the lead on lap 10. The two traded the lead back and forth for the next handful of circuits, occasionally swapping paint for the top spot. Taylor would hang on by a car length for her sixth win and extend her points lead over Christopher Clanton.
Kyle Bembry was the pole sitter for the Semi-Pro feature, but his position did not last long as Garrett Smithley jumped to the outside with a hard dive into the first turn. Hub Talbot and Jami Weimer got together going down the backstretch for the first caution, leading to a full field restart. The second go-around was just as successful as the first for Smithley, as he once again arched his machine high into the first corner to gain the lead. Back behind the race for the lead, Justin Thomas executed a three wide pass exiting turn two to gain the fourth position after starting seventh. He then quickly dispatched Amber Fleeman and moved past Bembry the next lap. Lap five gave the crowd a lead change, as Thomas slid past Smithley for the point. Lapped traffic once again played a role in the racing action, as points leader Myatt Snider used the slower cars to his advantage and moved into third place. He then began his pursuit of the front runners. Bembry spun on lap six to bunch the field up under caution. The restart saw Thomas escape from the pack, while Smithley and Snider resumed their battle for the second position. One lap later, Smithley closed back in on Thomas while the field raced hard for top five positioning behind them. Snider then moved past Smithly for second on the eighth lap of the event. But Bembry spun once again for the second caution of the race on lap 10. The bunched up cars on the restart led to some beating and rubbing, as Williams Plemons III and Smithley made contact racing for third, spinning both drivers. The machines of Weimer, Fleeman and Talbot were also collected in the incident. The green flag was displayed with five laps remaining. Snider harassed Thomas for the next two laps, causing Thomas to overdrive his entrance into turn one, giving Snider the lead. Thomas then sized him up and powered back past to the front. Side-by-side for the lead, the caution was displayed for a safety cone that had been knocked into the racing groove. Thomas led Snider by just a bumper at the time of the caution, giving him the hole shot on the two lap dash for the checkered flag. When the rag dropped, Thomas quickly added space between the two and escaped the event with the win over a hard-charging Snider, his second of 2012.
Prior to the evening’s second set of feature races, rain began to fall on the speedway’s racing surface and the cars were moved to the garage. Track drying efforts ensued, but were to no avail, and the eighth set of feature races for the 2012 season were re-scheduled for the following week.
Short-track racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday, July 19 for the eighth and ninth events of the 2012 Thursday Thunder season with double feature races. 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. Gates open at 6 p.m., heat races start at 6:15 p.m. and feature races start at approximately 7:50 p.m. 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.
Week Seven Race Results:
Pro (ran on July 5):
1. Taylor Hull (Winston), 2. Mason Massey (Douglasville), 3. Austin Hill (Winston)
Shane’s Rib Shack Young Lions:
1. Evan Bell (Buford), 2. Will Fagan (Cumming), 3. Joey Padgett (Tallahassee, Fla.), 4. Madeline Crane (Meansville), 5. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 6. Woodrow Mullis (Hoboken), 7. Trevin Aswarnauth (Loganville), 8. Kaz Grala (Westborough, Mass.), 9. Megan Younginer (Stockbridge), 10. Blake Gaither (Nashville, Tenn.), 11. Riley Thornton (Peachtree City), DNS – Ashley Pyle, Payton Ryan (Concord, N.C.), Noah Comman (Groveland, Fla.)
Racing Radios Bandits:
1. Chandler Smith (Talking Rock), 2. Joshua Hicks (Senoia), 3. Zachary Dabbs (Mooresville, N.C.), 4. Ashton Winger (Fayetteville), 5. Zach Leonhardi (Smyrna), 6. Austin Geer (Johns Creek), 7. Lee Hodges (Valdosta), 8. Reid Morris (Carrollton), 9. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge), 10. Jonathan Martin (Ola), DNS – Bodie Weeks (Loganville), Connor Okrzesik (Mobile, Ala.)
1. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 2. Terry Mathis (Cumming), 3. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 4. Scott Mosley (McDonough) substitute driving for Skip Nichols (Albany), 5. Brian Weimer (Cumming), 6. Phillip Young (Dallas), 7. Mark Swan (Atlanta), 8. Mike Kennedy (Alpharetta), 9. James Meredith (Locust Grove), 10. Don Chandler (Macon), 11. Michael Sauer (Atlanta), 12. John Ponzio (Hampton)
1. Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 2. Tyler Lester (Dallas, N.C.), 3. Jenson Jorgensen (Stockbridge), 4. Christopher Clanton (Brooks), 5. Alton Clark (Newnan), 6. Tyler Mosley (McDonough), 7. Jaco bHeafner (Dallas, N.C.), 8. Eli Bailey (Johns Creek), 9. Katelyn Weatherly (McDonough), 10. Chase Purdy (Gallion, Ala.)
1. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 2. Myatt Snider (Charlotte, N.C.), 3. Jay Coen (Dacula), 4. Billy Stevenson (Locust Grove), 5. Garrett Smithley (Peachtree City), 6. Emilee Riley (Jasper), 7. Brett Hardin (Acworth), 8. Jami Weimer (Cumming), 9. Amber Fleeman (Dacula), 10. William Plemons III (Locust Grove), 11. Aaron Bailey (Hull), 12. Kyle Bembry (Macon), 13. Jason Lynn (Sugar Hill), 14. Hub Talbot (Smyrna)