Massive burnouts, narrow finishes highlight Friday Night Drag's penultimate races
It was a sweet night all around Atlanta Motor Speedway's pit lane drag strip for competitors and fans alike.
Each week fans are dazzled by the high speeds that are a staple of O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags, but burnouts by vehicles preparing for a run down the eighth-mile track can impress, too.
One burnout early in the evening's action stood out above the rest; as James Walker of Fayetteville readied his 2016 Dodge Challenger for a run down the pit lane drag strip, he let loose a large smoke show that drew loud cheers from crowd. What made the burnout even more impressive was how long it lasted; when Walker finally yielded, large clouds of smoke had blanketed the staging area.
Such a superb display isn't just gratuitous - the burnout, which heats up the tires, is vital for a competitor hoping to make a fast run.
"It basically makes the tire sticky and that's what you want when you launch with a high horsepower car," Walker said.
It worked out for Walker, who won the matchup and advanced to the next round. When he returned to the frontstretch to wait for his next run, he was quickly named the winner of the night's PeachPass Burnout Zone Competition.
"It was a pleasant surprise," an excited Walker said. "I was just doing my normal burnout, but a little extended because these are new tires."
The rest of his burnouts before each round Friday night were also impressive, and effective. In the New Edge division finals, a strong jump off the line, thanks in part to the burnouts, propelled Walker to victory.
While the performances just before the starting line were entertaining, so too was the action on the pit lane drag strip. Several races throughout the evening came down to the wire, including the final round of the Harbin's Mechanical Services Street Outlaw division. The contest between Mike Moore's 2017 COPO Camaro and Ross Cole's 1972 Chevrolet Camaro saw Moore jump out to a slight lead, but Cole closed the gap approaching the line.
The cars flashed across the line neck and neck; fans, unable to tell who had won, turned to the trackside indicator light to see who had prevailed. After a suspenseful couple of seconds, the light showed Moore had squeaked across the line just ahead of Cole.
"I could see (Ross) was coming up on me," Moore, of Newnan, said after the victory. He added, "If it would've been another 50 feet, he would've had it."
The win couldn't come at a better time for Moore. He entered the night second in the Street Outlaw division standings and with the victory is now tied with Wayne Harris entering championship week.
Other notable winners included Robert Cheney of Jonesboro, whose 2014 American Dragster edged out the 1991 Chevrolet S-10 piloted by Locust Grove's Arnie Cobb. In the Tuner division, Jim Dean of Senoia willed his 1991 Nissan 300Z across the line for his first win this year, just ahead of the 2007 BMW 3351 driven by Remond Desir of Lithonia.
The cherry on top of all that action on the pit lane dragstrip was Eats and Sweets at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Restart Bar; fans who took part enjoyed samples of mouth-watering delectables and helped raise for money for Speedway Children's Charities at the same time. Award winners included Small Cakes, which won the Judge's Award, and Sweet Spot Cakery, which won the People's Choice Award.
Below is a list of the Aug. 17 race winners:
Super Pro: Robert Cheney (Jonesboro); 2014 American Dragster
QuikTrip Pro: Kevin Mayo (McDonough); 1969 Chevrolet Nova
Harbin's Mechanical Services Street Outlaw: Mike Moore (Peachtree City); 2017 Chevrolet COPO Camaro
Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman: Cole Shiftlett (Newnan); 1983 Ford Mustang
New Edge: James Walker (Fayetteville); 2016 Dodge Challenger
Street Performer: Brandon Sampler (Griffin); 1995 Chevrolet S10
Harding Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Domestic: Donnie Henderson (Hampton); 1980 Chevrolet Malibu
Diamond Resorts Factory Street: Michael Hartley (McDonough); 2013 Ford Mustang
Street Modified: Kelly Morgan (Jonesboro); 1968 Ford Mustang
Starfire Automatic Gates Truck: Ed Blanford (McDonough); 1968 Ford F100
Tuner: Jim Dean (Senoia); 1991 Nissan 300z
Sport Compact: Chris Mauldin (Yatesville); 2009 Infinity
Super Bike: Cory Mayo (Fayetteville); 2009 Hayabusa Suzuki
Sport Bike: Bryan Berube (Stockbridge); 2016 Kawasaki
US Marines Motorcycle: Keith Stamps (Tyrone); 2002 Honda
ATV: Bradley Smith (Griffin); 1990 Yamaha Banshee
Peach Pass Burnout Zone: James Walker (Fayetteville); 2016 Dodge Challenger
The Show-N-Shine competition featured everything from new imports to classic muscle cars and automobiles ranging as far back as the 1930s. Those vehicles then took part in the Speedway Cruise following judging.
Classic Custom (Through 1972)
First Place: David Scott (Pike), 1968 Dodge Charger
Showroom Modern (1973 through 1999)
First Place: Chris Gallagher (Fayetteville), 1998 Pontiac Trans AM
Modern Custom (1973 through 1999)
First Place: Tanner Miller (Stockbridge), 1998 Pontiac Firebird
Second Place: Lee Wall (Griffin), 1990 Chevrolet Suburban
Current (2000 through current)
First Place: Elton Sowers (Baltimore, MD), 2014 Mustang GT
Second Place: Michael McCormick (Tyrone), Mustang
Third Place: Troy Hartman (Hampton), 2014 Mustang
First Place: Evan Rogers (Fayetteville), 2005 Ford F150
Second Place: Nick Gatlin (Griffin), 2014 Chevy Silverado
Third Place: Elijah Smith (Hampton), 2016 Nissan Frontier
First Place: Joshua Shapiro (Lilburn), 1980 Nissan Skyline
Atlanta Motor Speedway's O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine returns to the pit lane drag strip next Friday, Aug. 24 for the final race of the season as drivers in 18 different divisions take on the Pit Lane Drag Strip. Grandstand gates open at 6:30 p.m., and nightly drag race eliminations start just after 9:00 p.m.
Entry to drag race or for the Show-N-Shine is just $20 or competitors can purchase a combo ticket for $30. Spectator tickets are just $10, and children 5 and under are free. More information can be found at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags or by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211.