The 27th season of Thursday Thunder racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway got underway last night and its opening round was filled with thrilling moments. The slate of feature races across eight Bandolero and Legends Car divisions was defined by dramatic passes and close battles for the lead. By the end of the night, eight winners had made their way to victory lane and made the jump to the top of their respective divisions.

The Semi-Pro division feature put on the greatest show of the night, with Buchanan native Kyle Bacon and Jesse Martinez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) exchanging the lead multiple times in the final laps. The two started on the front row, with Bacon leading the first two laps, before Martinez made a slick pass for the lead on lap three. It didn’t take long for Bacon to make a tight pass to take back the lead in turn four with his left tires in the grass. First place continued to cycle through the pair throughout the main event.  A late restart allowed Martinez to the point, but Bacon was large in his rear-view mirror, nearly taking the lead at the white flag. On the final lap, Bacon cleared Martinez on the backstretch and held off the West Palm Beach driver to win by less than a car length.

Both the WJP Investments Pro and Rookie Bandolero divisions featured dramatic last-lap lead changes.

In the Pro feature race, Sean McElearny (Babylon, N.Y.) and his 98 car started on pole and dominated early in the race.  A late-race caution in turn two created another restart which allowed Stockbridge’s Jensen Jorgenson closed the gap to McElearney. The two made contact in turn three on the final lap and McElearney spun through turn four while Jorgenson took the corner wide to avoid the incident. Canton’s Nick Woodall stole the victory when he passed the leaders on the inside and crossed the stripe in first.

In the Rookie Bandolero division, Zebulon native Cason Tate led most of the race, before Daylen Pennington had a hard charge toward him during the final green-white-checkered restart. But it was Dublin’s Connor Sanders who was able to make a move for the lead from third, landing his #21 car in victory lane.

In the Bandits division feature, Wyatt Coffey (Waynesboro, Va.) earned the pole and led most of the race until a battle and dust-up with Washington’s Jaxon Burnett landed both drivers at the rear of the field. Burnett would claw his way back up to second, but couldn’t steal the victory away from Canton’s James Behnke, who had inherited the lead under caution.

Two Outlaws drivers, Rhylee Hutchins and Lilly Impellizzeri battled for the lead during the first half of the division feature race. Both would fall back into the pack due to a number of incidents that brought out the yellow flag. Bryson Nichols of Hampton, Virginia scored the victory, maneuvering through the field on his way to the lead from fifth place. 

Other races saw Cole Denton (Pascagoula, MS) hold off Aiden King (Farmington, Mo.) and the rest of the field to capture the win in the Associates Group Young Lions division.  Addyson King (Mooresville, N.C.) overtook pole sitter Billy Lee of Ruskin, Fla. on the first lap to cruise to victory lane in the Chargers division.  In the Masters division, Bill Plemmons, Jr. led wire to wire in a caution-free race, holding off a hard charging Phillip Young for the victory.

Drivers return to the Thunder Ring at Atlanta Motor Speedway next Thursday, June 13th for round 2 action. 

Here are the complete results from Round 1 of Thursday Thunder 2024:

1. King, Addyson (Mooresville, NC)
2. Lee, Billy (Ruskin, FL)
3. Soto, Javier (Marietta, GA)
4. Mayhue, Bowen
5. Shirley, Brennen (Rainbow City, AL)
6. Stevens, Kendall (Griffin, GA)
7. Young, Luke (Dallas, GA)

Rookie Bandolero
1. Sanders, Connor (Dublin, GA)
2. Glass, Cam (Juliet, GA)
3. Shirley, Reese (Rainbow City, AL)
4. Lofy, Craig (Bonaire, GA)
5. Treschl, Ava (Hogansville, GA)
6. Tate, Casen (Zebulon, GA)
7. Pennington, Daylen

1. Behnke, James (Canton, GA)
2. Burnett, Jaxon (Snohomish, WA)
3. Gray, Delaney (LaGrange, NC)
4. Coffey, Wyatt (Waynesboro, VA)
5. Glass, Colton (Juliette, GA)
6. Faulkner, James (Christiana, TN)
7. Hutchins, Charlee (Mount Pleasant, NC)
8. Rudolph, Briella (Griffin, GA)
9. Pennington, Daylen
10. Johnson, Evan (Vancleave, MS)

1. Nichols, Bryson (Hampton, VA)
2. Cauble, Carson (Salisbury, NC)
3. Hutchins, Rhylee (Mount Pleasant, NC)
4. Tatum, Kinsley (Cordele, GA)
5. Impellizzeri, Lilly (Munroe Falls, OH)
6. Sherman, Carson (Loganville, GA)
7. Young, Luke (Dallas, GA)
8. Milby, Reagan (Perry, GA)
9. Erickson, Carter (Cumming, GA)

The Associates Group Young Lions
1. King, Aiden (Farmington, MO)
2. Denton, Cole (Pascagoula, MS)
3. Bongiovanni, Dylan (Cumming, GA)
4. Olmsted II, Max (Greenwood, IN)
5. Lamarre, Jack (Hoschton, GA)
6. O'Neil, Baylor (Grantville, GA)
7. Laprade, Matthew (New Smyrna Beach, FL)
8. Haire, Will (Savannah, GA)
9. Flater, Mitchell (Conyers, GA)
10. Christensen, Lane
11. Warner, Austin (Dallas, GA)
12. Kade, Kayli (Hampton, GA)
DNS. Butler, Conner (Forsyth, GA)
1. Plemons, Bill Jr (Locust Grove, GA)
2. Young, Phillip (Dallas, GA)
3. Swan, Mark (Athens, GA)
4. Young, Lisa (Dallas, GA)
5. Pierce, Dwight (Griffin, GA)

1. Bacon, Kyle (Buchanan, GA)
2. Martinez, Jesse (West Palm Beach, FL)
3. Reynolds, Jackson (Marietta, GA)
4. Britt, Emma (Hampton, GA)
5. Allen, J.R. (Auburn, AL)
6. Almond, CJ (Atlanta, GA)
7. Gaul, Cooper (Seminole, FL)
8. Clark, Galen (Hendersonville, TN)
9. Cosier, Brian (Marietta, GA)
10. Woodall, Amanda (Canton, GA)
11. Tadrzak, Trey (Stockbridge, GA)
12. Hicks, Kaitlyn (Hampton, GA)

WJP Investments Pro
1. Woodall, Nick (Canton, GA)
2. Taylor, Jonathan (Roswell, GA)
3. Gumm, Garrett (Brooks, GA)
4. Pierce, Currie (Griffin, GA)
5. Gannon, Michael (Canton, GA)
6. McElearney, Sean (Babylon, NY)
7. Jorgensen, Jensen (Stockbridge, GA)
8. Crane, Madeline (Meansville, GA)