AMS Thursday Thunder Opens With Hot Night Of Racing

Chandler Smith (26) and Zach Leonhardi split the Bandits features in the opening week of Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway with each driver finishing first and second in both races. Photo by Tom Francisco/Speedpics.net

Chandler Smith (26) and Zach Leonhardi split the Bandits features in the opening week of Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway with each driver finishing first and second in both races. Photo by Tom Francisco/Speedpics.net

Atlanta Motor Speedway officials planned something special for fans attending the opening night of the 16th season of Thursday Thunder. For their single admission ticket price, fans were treated to double the amount of racing as each class ran double features.

The Outlaws feature had Alton Clark pacing the field the green flag, but by the time the first circuit was complete, Ashton Winger drove his way to the front of the pack. Winger showed his muscle by leading every lap to steal the first win of the night.

The Bandits feature launched with Clay Thompson on the pole. On lap three, there was a tight battle up front between Thompson and Austin Geer. Thompson got loose in turn four on lap six which opened the door for Geer to slide by on the inside to jump to the front. At the halfway point, Zach Leonhardi passed Geer for the lead. Chandler Smith and Geer worked each other over lap after lap for the second spot. With two laps to go while racing for second, Geer spun around in turn two and brought out the caution. This set up a two-lap dash to the finish. Smith was glued to Leonhardi’s bumper, but was unable to make the pass for the win. Leonhardi claimed his first victory of the season.

William Plemmons III began the combined Pro and Masters features out front. Madeline Crane worked Plemmons over lap after lap, but Plemmons remained strong, keeping Crane at bay for the entire race. Although Scott Moseley was never able to challenge Plemmons for the top spot, he was able to hold off all the other Masters competitors to be the highest finishing Masters driver, thus logging the win for that division.

The Allred Family Dentistry Semi-Pro feature opened with Amber Fleeman as the starter. In the first turn, a multi-car crash brought out the yellow flag which set the field for a full field double-file restart. Coming to the completion of lap one, a crash involving leader Fleeman, Riley Thornton and Bret Hardin caused the second caution of the race. The restart put Taylor Jorgensen on the pole, but immediately Thornton shot to the front of the pack. Thornton took advantage of the track position to lead the remaining laps to claim the trophy in victory lane.

Blake Gaither was the pole sitter for the Fun Junction Young Lions feature. On lap one, Payton Ryan moved into the lead. William Byron kept his nose glued to Ryan’s bumper, but due to getting loose on lap 12, he fell back, allowing Ryan to put some distance on the field. Bryon was fast, as three laps later, he was back on Ryan’s tail. Despite Bryon’s best efforts, Ryan grabbed the victory.

The second round of features opened with Outlaws driver Jenson Jorgensen pacing the field to the green flag. Coming off the backstretch on the first lap, Alton Clark and Eli Bailey made contact bringing out the yellow flag. After the restart, Joshua Hicks made his way to the front by lap three, however one lap later, Jorgensen got around him. Soon, Ashton Winger was in the mix with Jorgensen and Hicks with a three-way battle for the lead, trading the lead for several laps. By lap eight, Winger started to drive away from the other two. Winger led the remainder of the feature to steal the win.

The Bandits feature began with Connor Younginer on the pole. Zach Leonhardi and Chandler Smith started in the rear of the field but by lap three, the two drivers were in the top two spots. On lap five, Smith drove by Leonhardi to become the point man. Smith led the rest of the race to seize the win.

Madeline Crane took the green flag to set off the combined Pro and Masters feature. A wreck involving Martin Snyder and Don Maness brought out the caution on lap 12. Four laps later, Plemmons muscled his way by Crane to become the leader. Crane tried to get by Plemmons on the last corner of the last lap, but to no avail. Plemmons collected his second win of the night while Skip Nichols was the winning Masters driver.

Aaron Bailey paced the field to the start for the Allred Family Dentistry Semi-Pro feature, but on the first lap, Bret Hardin and Bailey made contact in turn two bringing out the caution. R.S. Senter was the leader when the race restarted. Fleeman raced her way back to the front by lap nine. With two to go, the yellow flag was thrown; which set up a dash to the finish. Senter lined up on the outside of Fleeman and used that outside front row spot to jump ahead of Fleeman to snatch the victory.

The Fun Junction Young Lions feature kicked off with Woodrow Mullis out front. Mullis had a considerable lead for the bulk of the race; however, William Byron closed the gap with five laps to go. Byron tried several times to get by Mullis, even trying a bump-and-run move on the final lap in turn four. Both drivers were sideways coming out of the final turn and it was a drag race to the finish line. With only a .018 second margin, Mullis scored the win.

New for 2013, Atlanta Motor Speedway has introduced the Checkered Flag Challenge. Any driver who has not previously won a feature race in Thursday Thunder can enter the race. The special feature race got underway with Clay Thompson in the lead. Thompson was the class of the field, leading every lap. He was ecstatic to celebrate is first Thursday Thunder win in victory lane.

The final race of the night was reserved for Thursday Thunder’s newer racers, the Beginner Bandits class. Samuel Oliver led the field to the start. Nathan Jackson ran away with the early lead. Jackson proved to have the most experience as he led every lap to capture the winner’s trophy.

Short-track racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday, June 13 featuring an exhibition race the United Sprint Car Series. For more information, visit atlantamotorspeedway.com.

Atlanta Motor Speedway -Hampton, GA
Race Results – June 6, 2013

First Feature Races

Outlaws
1. Ashton Winger
2. Joshua Hicks
3. Chase Purdy
4. Alton Clark
5. Jenson Jorgensen
6. Eli Bailey
7. Miranda Meredith
ATQ – Christopher Clanton

Bandits
1. Zach Leonhardi
2. Chandler Smith
3. Connor Younginer
4. Clay Thompson
5. Will McConnell
6. Lee Hodges
7. Austin Geer
8. Abigail Marin
9. Abbey Price
10. Ryan Howell
11. Nathan Jackson
12. Tristan Meredith
13. Lawson Ingold
14. Samuel Oliver

Pro
1. William Plemmons III
2. Madeline Crane

Masters
1. Scott Moseley
2. Tina Johnson
3. Bill Plemmons
4. Ed Clark
5. Mike Kennedy
6. Don Maness
7. Martin Snyder
8. Mark Swan
9. Skip Nichols
10. Phillip Young

Allred Family Dentistry Semi-Pro
1. Riley Thornton
2. Taylor Jorgensen
3. Jeff Holden
4. C.J. Pucko
5. Aaron Bailey ,
6. Hub Talbot
7. L.J. Klemons
8. Bret Hardin
9. Amber Fleeman

Fun Junction Young Lions
1. Payton Ryan
2. William Byron
3. Alex Coffey
4. Woodrow Mullis
5. Dylan Murry
6. Blake Gaither

Second Feature Races

Outlaws
1. Ashton Winger
2. Joshua Hicks
3. Jenson Jorgensen
4. Chase Purdy
5. Christopher Clanton
6. Miranda Meredith
7. Alton Clark
8. Eli Bailey

Bandits
1. Chandler Smith
2. Zach Leonhardi
3. Austin Geer
4. Clay Thompson
5. Connor Younginer
6. Abigail Marin
7. Abbey Price
8. Lawson Ingold
9. Lee Hodges
10. Will McConnell

Pro
1. William Plemmons III
2. Madeline Crane

Masters
1. Skip Nichols
2. Tina Johnson
3. Ed Clark
4. Bill Plemmons
5. Mike Kennedy
6. Scott Moseley
7. Phillip Young
8. Mark Swan
9. Don Maness
10. Martin Snyder

Allred Family Dentistry Semi-Pro
1. R.S. Senter
2. Amber Fleeman
3. Riley Thornton
4. Hub Talbot
5. Bret Hardin
6. Taylor Jorgensen
7. Aaron Bailey
8. Jeff Holden
DNS: Chris Payne

Fun Junction Young Lions
1. Woodrow Mullis
2. Payton Ryan
3. Alex Coffey
4. Dylan Murry
5. Blake Gaither
6. William Byron

Bandolero Checkered Flag Challenge
1. Clay Thompson
2. Conner Younginer
3. Abbey Price
4. Will McConnell
5. Miranda Meredith

Beginner Bandits
1. Nathan Jackson
2. Tristan Meredith
3. Ryan Howell
4. Samuel Oliver

 

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