Watson grabs first Thursday Thunder win, Hicks extends Pro championship lead
As the 2019 season of Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's enters July, it's becoming crunch time to get valuable championship points or get that first summer series win.
Timothy Watson checked off the latter after a brilliant piece of driving in The Associates Group Young Lions. Starting on outside of the front row on lap 6, a circumstance that typically requires a driver to play defense, Watson went on offense and managed to pull off a pass for the lead.
"I just got on the gas and hoped it would stick," the Panama City, Fla., driver said. "I'm just thankful everyone raced me clean, especially on that last restart."
The last restart put four-time 2019 winner Lucas Ruark right on Watson's tail. To get his first Thursday Thunder victory, Watson had to three fast, mistake-free laps.
"I know Ruark is super fast here, but I knew I had a fast car tonight too and we got it done in the end," Watson said.
Meanwhile in the VP Racing Fuels Pro Division — which has featured one of the tightest championship battles this season — Senoia's Josh Hicks established himself as the driver to beat with his third consecutive victory.
"This the first time I've been in a really good Legend car and I'm really liking it," Hicks said with a big smile. Asked whether he's found something behind the wheel that gets his car around the Thunder Ring quicker, Hicks said with a smirk, "Yeah, and hopefully nobody else figures it out!"
Another tight championship battle can be found in the CMS Group Environmental Services Semi-Pro division, where three drivers entered Wednesday night's action separated by just a handful of points. One of those drivers, DJ Canipe of Fallston, N.C., helped his championship cause greatly by wrestling the lead away on lap 13 of the division feature. From there, only a two-lap shootout stood between Canipe and a much-needed victory.
"I just had to get a good restart so I could pull away from them," Canipe said. That's exactly what he did, scooting away from the field on the final restart to secure his second win of 2019.
In the Wallace Electric Masters Division feature, Bill Plemons Jr., of Locust Grove, took his sixth checkered flag of the year, positioning himself securely in the championship lead with just three races to go.
Parker Eatmon started on the pole, but victory didn't come easily for him in the Racing Radios Outlaws Division. On multiple restarts Eatmon had the race lead ripped away from him, forcing him to regroup and take the lead back. After those battles, and a series of late race restarts, the Wilson, N.C., driver got the job done and earned his second win of 2019.
In the Racing Radios Bandits division Suwanee's Carson Ruark grabbed his third win of the season after fending off a persistent challenge from Jacob Bradley, who took 2nd.
A last lap pass vaulted Bremen's Briana Freeman to victory in the Racing Radios Rookie Bandolero feature, and in the Chargers race Lance Spurlang, of Cordele, earned his first ever race win.
Full results from July 3 Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's racing:
The Associates Group Young Lions
- Timothy Watson (Panama City, FL)
- Lucas Ruark (Suwanee, GA)
- Tony Yawn III (Roanoke, AL)
- Ashton Whitener (Monticello, GA)
- Keaton Hendrix (Homerville, GA)
- Kenneth Henderson (Alto, GA)
- Nathan Jackson (McDonough, GA)
- Michael Gannon (Canton, GA)
- Justin Campbell (Griffin, GA)
- Paul Owens (Quakertown, PA)
- Wilder Etheredge (Atlanta, GA)
- Austin MacDonald (Pictou, NS)
CMS Group Environmental Services Semi-Pro
- DJ Canipe (Fallston, NC)
- Blaze Crawford (Fayetteville, GA)
- Max Brady (Marietta, GA)
- Ricky Springer (McDonough, GA)
- Kenny Brady (Marietta, GA)
- Jonathan Taylor (Atlanta, GA)
- Hayden Swank (Woodstock, GA)
- Brandon Brock (Hampton, GA)
- Pierce Brewer (Locust Grove, GA)
- Cameron Michael (Greensboro, GA)
- Nick Woodall (Canton, GA)
- Zac Bacon (Buchanan, GA)
- Parker Brewer (Locust Grove, GA)
- Camden Prouty (Spanish Fort, AL)
- Trey Tadrzak (Stockbridge, GA)
- Ian Hampton (Stockbridge, GA)
- Lawson Ingold (Social Circle, GA)
- Audrie Ruark (Suwanee, GA)
DNS. Trent Barfield (Hamilton, GA)
VP Racing Fuels Pro
- Joshua Hicks (Senoia, GA)
- Jensen Jorgensen (Stockbridge, GA)
- Taylor Jorgensen (Stockbridge, GA)
- Cale Hall (Griffin, GA)
- William Plemons III (Acworth, GA)
- Cody Hall (Griffin, GA)
- Harrison Halder (Cumming, GA)
- Gage Roberts (Milledgeville, GA)
- Max Hennebaul (Monroe, GA)
- Gauntt Hudgins (Savannah, GA)
- Tony Yawn (Roanoke, AL)
Wallace Electric Masters
- Bill Plemons Jr (Locust Grove, GA)
- Phillip Young (Dallas, GA)
- Tony Armbruster (Covington, GA)
- Mark Swan (Athens, GA)
- Wade Brewer (Locust Grove, GA)
- Randy Shubert (Stone Mountain, GA)
- Aaron Croslyn (Woodstock, GA)
- James Meredith (Locust Grove, GA)
- Dennis Hecht (Hoschton, GA)
- Kevin Vaughn (Grovetown, GA)
- Robert Anderson (Covington, GA)
Racing Radios Bandits
- Carson Ruark (Suwanee, GA)
- Jacob Bradley (Chapel Hill, NC)
- Garrett Gumm (Brooks, GA)
- Kaleb Bradley (Chapel Hill, NC)
- Kyle Bacon (Buchanan, GA)
- Gianni Esposito (Dacula, GA)
- Bryson Matthews (Dallas, GA)
Racing Radios Rookie Bandoleros
- Briana Freeman (Bremen, GA)
- Baylor O'Neil (Grantville, GA)
- Mitchell Flater (Conyers, GA)
- Jackson Reynolds (Marietta, GA)
- Kayli Kade (Hampton, GA)
- Bailey Buchanan (Senoia, GA)
- Mason Reece (Conyers, GA)
Racing Radios Outlaws
- Parker Eatmon (Wilson, NC)
- Trevor Wester (Canton, NC)
- Mason Maggio (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
- Kelley Puckett (McDonough, GA)
- Carson Ramsey (Charlotte, NC)
- Cameron Murray (Fuquay Varina, NC)
- Jadyn Daniels (Charlotte, NC)
- Logan Clark (Mechanicsville, VA)
- Clay Hocutt (Mobile, AL)
- Ryan Younginer (Locust Grove, GA)
- Sarah Sullivan (Gulf Shores, AL)
- Shelby Ruark (Suwanee, GA)
- Bailey North (Hampton, GA)
- Sean McElearney (Babylon, NY)
DNS. Tyler Newcomer (Woolsey, GA)
- Lance Spurlang (Cordele, GA)
- Graham Campbell (Braselton, GA)
- Amanda Woodall (Canton, GA)
- Matthew Kade (Hampton, GA)
- Lisa Scott (Dallas, GA)
The AMS Legends and Bandoleros Racers return to the Thunder Ring for two rounds of Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's Pizza on back-to-back nights.
Infield admission is available for spectators wishing to watch the action on Wednesday, July 10, and grandstand tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing action on Thursday, July 11, 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.