Seven divisions take part in Legends and Bandolero All-Star Race at AMS
U.S. Legends and Bandolero cars brought the speed to the quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" for offseason all-star-format exhibition racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday, prior to the start of the 19th season of the Thursday Thunder Legends Series Presented by Papa John's Pizza.
Seven racing divisions took part in six feature races, which were broken into two halves. Bandolero classes raced in two 15-lap segments, while Legends classes competed in two twenty-lap halves. The two-segment races were separated by a break in which drivers were permitted to return to the garage prior to the last half.
Kicking off the afternoon was the Rookie Bandolero Division, led by pole-sitter Shelby Ruark of Suwanee. From the green flag, Ruark settled comfortably into the front of the pack and led each of the 15 laps in the first half of the 30-lap feature. Restarting in the front of the field for the second half alongside Monticello's Ashton Whitener, Ruark replicated her first-half performance and took the checkered flag without ever trailing. Whitener finished second, while Mikie Mohwish of Cumming, Carson Ruark, and Keaton Hendrix of Homerville completed the top-5 in order.
Next, the Outlaws Division feature looked much the same, as McDonough's Ricky Springer took the pole and led every lap in both segments for the offseason victory. Connor Younginer of Stockbridge and Blaise Maddox of Locus Grove battled back and forth, swapping running positions behind Springer for second place through the final 15 laps, with Maddox edging his competitor down the stretch to lock up the runner-up spot. Younginer crossed the line in third, while Atlanta's Andrew Dollar rounded out the top-5.
Clay Thompson of Bowersville used a strong start in the Bandits Division feature to pass pole sitter Michael Gannon of Canton, and he never looked back. Thompson surpassed Gannon in Turn 2 of the race's first lap and turned in a dominating performance to lead every lap and cross the line well ahead of the rest of the field. McDonough's Nathan Jackson finished second, and Gannon finished third for a podium finish.
In the Young Lions Division, pole winner Brody Pope of Harrisonville, Missouri took an early lead over fellow front-row starter Rafe Slate of Eatonton and led each of the first six laps before the pair made contact as they crossed the start/finish line on the seventh lap and were forced to the rear of the field. Canon Cochran of Ringold restarted in first place and led the next 10 laps before trouble of his own struck, as he got together with Griffin's Hunter Johnson, which made way for Pope, who had worked his way back up to third-place, to retake the lead late in the first segment on the ensuing restart.
Pope polished off the final laps of the first segment with the lead and led each of the 20 second-half laps to wrap up the trip to Victory Lane. Cochran recovered to finish second, while Cumming's Harrison Halder, Stockbridge's Connor Younginer and Griffin's Cody Hall rounded out the top-5.
The combined Pro/Semi-Pro Division race featured a true tale of two halves. Pole sitter Nolan Pope of Harrisonville, Missouri took the green flag and led in dominating fashion each of the 20 laps in the feature's first half. Pope was poised to repeat the performance as the teams emerged from the garage, but a jumped restart forced him two positions back, and Jensen Jorgensen of Stockbridge slid into the lead as they lined up to retry the restart.
This time, it was Jorgensen who led every lap of the segment and crossed the line ahead of the field on the 40th and final lap to claim the victory, holding off Locust Grove's Bill Plemons, Jr. and Pope, who finished second and third respectively.
Tony Armbruster of Covington won the pole in the Masters Division feature and put himself in position for a win, leading each of the first 20 laps before the drivers headed to the garage between segments.
On the restart, Bill Plemons Jr. of Locust Grove, who had been glued to Armbruster's bumper throughout the first segment, saw a opening on the first lap and made a move to the inside to take the lead in Turn 2 and proceeded to put on a quarter-mile flat-track racing clinic. Plemons built a strong lead in front of the rest of the field before a caution on the 15th lap once again bunched the field for a five-lap showdown in the afternoon's final race.
An undeterred Plemons used a strong restart to settle back into the lead, while Robert Cheney of Stockbridge, who restarted in second, held off Armbruster and the rest of the field on his way to what looked like would be his first podium finish in a Legends car.
But as the Cheney crossed the start/finish line to take the white flag behind Plemons, a challenging Armbruster pulled alongside him in a battle for second-place and the two made contact as they sped down the frontstretch, triggering a caution on the final lap, freezing the field and bringing out the automatic checkered flag.
In the end, Hoschton's Dennis Hecht finished behind Plemons for second place, while Randy Shubert of Conyers, Dennis Aiken of Villa Rica and Bill Whatley of Snellville rounded out the top-5 in order.
Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder Legends Series Presented by Papa John's Pizza cranks up its 19th season on the "Thunder Ring" for eight straight weeks beginning June 2, as the future stars of racing compete for a coveted season championship trophy.
Grandstand tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing series cost just $5, while children ages 5 and younger are free.
For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
Complete May 14 Feature Race Results:
Rookie Bandolero Division:
1. Shelby Ruark (Suwanee); 2. Ashton Whitener (Monticello); 3. Mikie Mohwish (Cumming); 4. Carson Ruark (Suwanee); 5. Keaton Hendrix (Homerville); 6. Wil Griffis (Homerville); 7. Savannah Bart (Cumming)
1. Ricky Springer (McDonough); 2. Blaise Maddox (Locust Grove); 3. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge); 4. Audrey Ruark; 5. Andrew Dollar (Atlanta); 6. Annabelle Mohwish (Cumming); 7. Trey Tadrzak (Stockbridge); 8. Gage Roberts (Milledgeville)
1. Clay Thompson (Bowersville); 2. Nathan Jackson (McDonough); 3. Michael Gannon (Canton); 4. Ryan Younginer (Jonesboro); 5. Max Hennebaul (Monroe); 6. Samantha Bart (Cumming); 7. Logan Nalley (Canton)
Young Lions Division:
1. Brody Pope (Harrisonville, MI); 2. Canon Cochran (Ringold); 3. Harrison Halder (Cumming); 4. Connor Younginer (Stockbridge); 5. Cody Hall (Griffin); 6. Hunter Johnson (Griffin); 7. Cale Hall (Griffin); 8. Davis Rochester (Lebonan, TN); 9. Lawson Ingold (Social Circle); 10. Carden Cochran (Ringold); 11. Rafe Slate (Eatonton)
1. Jensen Jorgensen (Stockbridge); 2. Nolan Pope (Harrisonville, MO); 3. Hudson Halder (Cumming); 4. Jason Treschl (Lagrange); 5. Dylan Murry (Cumming); 6. Brandon Brock (Hampton); 7. David Lawrence (Senoia)
1. William Plemons III (Locust Grove); 2. Josh Hicks; 3. Corey Heim (Marietta); 4. Dawson Fletcher (Canton); 5. Adam Roberson (Pikesville, TN) DNF
1. Bill Plemons Jr. (Locust Grove); 2. Dennis Hecht (Hoschton); 3. Randy Shubert (Conyers); 4. (Dennis Aiken (Villa Rica); 5. Bill Whatley (Sneelville); 6. Rod Nelson (Oak Ridge, TN); 7. Tony Armbruster (Covington); 8. Robert Cheney (Jonesboro)