Thursday Thunder: Who to watch on championship night
Who to watch on championship night
In nine races Legends and Bandolero drivers have dueled on Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thunder Ring; along the way there have been close-quarters racing, some bumps, bitter defeats, and triumphant victories.
Now, just one round remains to crown the champions of Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's 22nd season.
The premier division features the closest championship battle of the bunch. Three-time VP Racing Fuels Pro Division winner Joshua Hicks, of Senoia, rides into finale night with a narrow three-point margin over Jensen Jorgensen, of Stockbridge.
"I wasn't nervous at first - we've just been having fun and coming to race - but now that the season is winding down I'm starting to get a little nervous because I have a chance to win the championship," Hicks said. "I gotta make sure I'm smart and avoid any mistakes that'll hurt me."
"The level of competition this year has been intense," said Jorgensen, who enters finale night with momentum after winning the last two races. "It's got me working hard on my car - harder than I've ever had to before."
Six races so far have been decided between these two drivers, often with the duo battling each other for the victory. With a title on the line, Hicks and Jorgensen expect more of the same Thursday night.
"I'm not going to give an inch and I'm sure I won't get one either," Hicks said. "But I'll race him clean and respect what he has."
"I'm coming for you," Jorgensen said. "I know what piece I've got so watch out!"
DJ Canipe, of Fallston, N.C., has hoisted championship trophies in Thursday Thunder's Bandolero divisions, but not in a Legends division. With a 10-point advantage in the CMS Group Environmental Services Semi-Pro Division, he has an opportunity to change that Thursday.
"It would mean a lot to get that first championship in a Legend car," Canipe said, "especially after racing with the tough competition here every week."
Nick Woodall, of Canton, is the only person standing between Canipe and a championship. Woodall, who has won a division leading four races this season, remains within striking distance entering the final race and rides into finale night with confidence after winning the last race.
"Championship night is always a night when everything ramps up," Woodall said. "We'll do the best we can and hopefully we win it."
In the Wallace Electric Masters Division Bill Plemons Jr., of Locust Grove, is one start away from completing a seven-year quest to win a Thursday Thunder championship.
After narrowly finishing 2nd in the division in 2018, Plemons has been almost unstoppable in 2019, taking the checkered flag seven times in nine starts. With a 42 point advantage heading into the final race, Plemons is all but assured the championship.
A pair of Racing Ruarks out of Suwanee find themselves in prime shape to bring home titles in their respective divisions. With six feature wins in 2019, Lucas Ruark holds a massive 60 point advantage in The Associates Group Young Lions Division. Meanwhile younger brother Carson Ruark holds an 18 point advantage over Garrett Gumm in the Racing Radios Bandits division.
Finally in the Racing Radios Outlaws division, Carson Ramsay, of Charlotte, N.C., enters the season finale with a 30 point edge on teammate Parker Eatmon.
The AMS Legends and Bandoleros racers conclude the 2019 season of Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's this Thursday, July 18. Grandstand tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing action cost just $5; children ages 5 and under 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.