Round Nine At Atlanta
HAMPTON, Ga. — The penultimate round of Atlanta Motor Speedway’s short-track racing program, Thursday Thunder featured drivers clamoring for every position as competitors are battling to determine who will be the 2011 Thursday Thunder champion in their respective classes.
The Semi-Pro feature got underway with Mike Weed in the lead. On lap two, Tyler Armstrong worked his way to the top spot. In turn one on lap six, William Plemons III stuck his nose to the inside of Armstrong to become the race leader. Plemons led the remainder of the circuits to capture his fifth win in nine starts this summer and now trails points leader Luke Behnke by only four points leading into the final week.
Tina Johnson paced the filed to the green flag to begin the Masters feature. Points leader Terry Mathis shot by Johnson coming to lap three to become the leader. Mathis went on to collect his third win of season. Mathis leads Bill Plemons Jr. by only two points leading into week 10.
Madeline Crane was the polesitter for the Morley Company Outlaws feature. Crane, the only driver to snap points leader Parker Barnes’ winning streak this year, got a great start and jumped ahead of the field in the early going of the race. A caution on lap ten tightened up the field with Barnes in the second spot for the restart. Barnes raced his way to the front on lap 12. Barnes and Crane swapped the lead back and forth in the final laps; however Barnes crossed the finish line first to seize his eight wins in nine starts this Thursday Thunder season. All Barnes has to do is start next week’s event to claim the 2011 title.
The Roadsters feature started with Chris Holcomb as the leader. Ed Clark got out front immediately. Skip Nichols challenged Clark on lap 10, but Clark fought to hold him off. On the final lap coming into turn four, Nichols got a fender to Clark’s bumper, causing him to get loose which set up a drag race to the finish line with Clark battling back to snatch his second Thunder Roadster win in the 2011 Thursday Thunder season.
Chandler Smith took the green flag to set off the Papa John’s Bandits feature. A multi-car wreck coming to lap one in turn four brought out the caution. Since the first lap had not been completed, it set up a double-file restart. On lap 14, Layton Sullivan tried to challenge for the lead. Smith battled back and Sullivan hooked Smith’s bumper in turn two, spinning both cars out and Ashton Winger inherited the top spot. Winger had trouble in the final turn, giving up the win to Zach Leonhardi, his first Thursday Thunder win ever which qualified him for the Labor Day Invitational race held Sept. 2 during the AdvoCare 500 weekend.
The Young Lions feature kicked off with Alex Coffey out front. Evan Bell leapt past Coffey to gain the early advantage. Bell spun on his own on lap 11, giving second-place Justin Thomas the front spot for the restart. Points leader Mason Massey delivered a bump-and-run to pass Thomas on lap 16. Massey scored his sixth win this season and his 15th career Thursday Thunder trophy.
The Pro feature launched with Taylor Hull on the pole. Hull ran the perfect race, leading every lap to post his third win this summer.
Tim Brotzge was the leader for the start of the Buzz Cars feature. On the first lap, Buddy Brewer shoved his way to the front. After a caution period due to a spin on the track, Gary Zajdek moved his way to the front after the restart. Zajdek held on to log his second win this season.