Following week one’s late-lap passes and wall-banging wrecks, short-track racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway’s “Thunder Ring” for more high-speed action during week two of the 2010 Thursday Thunder season on Thursday, June 10.
Just one 2009-10 Winter Flurry series champion claimed a victory during the year’s first summer series race, Donald McIntosh (Dawsonville) in the OCP Angus Farms Pro class, and two drivers recorded their first-career Thursday Thunder feature wins – Alex Coffey (McDonough) in the Marco’s Pizza Bandits division and Sean Rayhall (Winston) in the Young Lions class.
Points Standings in Play after First Thursday Thunder event
Despite the season just starting, a number of Thursday Thunder competitors will enter the season’s second week in need of a strong finish to settle their position in the 2010 points standings. Because five 2009 Thursday Thunder championships were decided by 20 points or less, these competitors will enter week two with an added emphasis on finishing ahead of the pack to continue their pursuit of a 2010 title.
In the OCP Angus Farms division, a pair of 2009 champions and a pair of second-place finishers will enter Thursday Thunder’s second week gunning for a solid performance. Jeff Haynie (Zebulon), the 2009 Masters champion, and Chad Finchum (Knoxville, Tenn.), the 2009 Young Lions champion, finished fifth and sixth respectively in week one and sit 12 and 14-points behind first place. Meanwhile, 2009 second-place Pro performer, Ryan Gandee (McDonough), finished in 10th place and Adam Gay (Dublin), who was second in 2009 Roadster points, finished 12th; Gandee trails first by 22 points, while Gay sits 26-points behind first.
In the Master’s division, four-time Thursday Thunder champion Skip Nichols (Albany) finished sixth and sits 14-points behind first, while Atlanta Motor Speedway president and 2009 Winter Flurry Masters champion Ed Clark finished 10th after being forced into the track wall as a result of an accident. Clark rests 22-marks back with 78 points.
In other classes, 2009 Young Guns champion Evan Bell (Buford) finished seventh competing in a new division, the Young Lions, and is 16-points behind first, while 2009 Outlaws champion Luke Behnke (Fayetteville) finished eighth among the Dixie Home Crafter Semi-Pros and is 18-points back of first.
Potato Sack Race and Autograph Session
After the success of week one’s Kids’ Candy & Coin Scramble, week two’s family activities at Thursday Thunder will include potato sack races and an autograph session with the Dixie Home Crafters Semi-Pro division, including week one feature winner William Plemmons III (Smyrna). The autograph session will take place following heat races and the potato sack races will take place during the evening’s intermission.
Sean Rayhall Quickly Turning Heads
Sean Rayhall of Winston has made moving from the open-wheel world to the short track look easy. So easy in fact, the 15-year old upstart won his first Thursday Thunder start and has won two of his first three starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Rayhall joins the Legends ranks after dominating in open-wheel formats and has been competing in a Legends car for just a matter of months. Despite his lack of experience on the short track, Rayhall collected a win in his first off-season Legends race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and was closing on back-to-back off-season wins when he suffered an equipment failure.
Rayhall will now gun for two Young Lions wins in a row in as many starts during Thursday Thunder’s second week. The last Young Lions drivers to begin the season with back-to-back wins include Walt Brannen, who started the 1999 season with four-straight wins, and NASCAR driver Reed Sorenson in 1998 when he posted six-straight wins to start the year.
Featuring a full slate of short-track racing, Thursday Thunder is an affordably-priced activity that offers something for spectators of all ages. Tickets are just $5 for adults and $1 for children 6-11 (ages 5 and under are free) for each evening of family fun and grass-roots racing. Gates open at 6 p.m., heat races start at 6:15 p.m. and feature races start at approximately 7:50 p.m. For more information about Thursday Thunder, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.