THURSDAY THUNDER: 6 new champions crowned at Atlanta Motor Speedway
HAMPTON — The 2017 Thursday Thunder racing series came to its conclusion Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Semi-Pro division feature race was first to start championship night with Christopher Clanton leading by a narrow eight points over Cumming’s Hudson Halder. Three positions on the track would be the difference for Clanton to win the title or lose it to Halder.
Halder started first and Clanton started eighth. Chaos in the middle of the pack mired Clanton to 18th at the end of the race when time ran out, allowing Halder to secure the season championship.
“This season got off to a great start, got a win in round one,” Halder said in victory lane. “I got three more wins and it got me the championship. It’s my first championship and it feels good. I didn’t get to get one in Charlotte.”
Rafe Slate of Eatonton, who entered the night third in the standings, finished second, and Hampton’s Brandon Brock rounded out the podium in third.
Plemons Investments Masters Division
Scott Moseley needed to stay ahead of Robbie Woodall to seal the championship in the Plemons Investments Masters Division. Moseley, who entered the race with a slim 12-point lead, needed to finish ahead of Woodall by four positions to walk out with his second straight title.
Moseley did just that, running from the pole to a dominant victory.
“It feels great to win another championship. It’s the second one,” Moseley said. “I have a lot of fun coming out here and I like the competitors we race with. I knew coming into tonight if I qualified on the pole that it’d be good for us.”
Woodall finished second. Mark Swan of Atlanta finished third to round out the podium.
Senoia’s Josh Hicks carried three victories and a 22-point lead in the standings with him into the Outlaws Division feature. He led each of the final six laps after battling with second-place driver Blaise Maddox to win his fourth race of the season and lock up the title with a 25-point cushion.
Maddox, who won three races of his own in 2017, finished second Saturday night after leading nearly half of the race, while Nathan Jackson of McDonough finished third.
Fayetteville driver Blaze Crawford led all 20 laps of the Chargers Division feature to take home the victory in his Legends car debut. Behind him, Canton’s Logan Nalley and Kevin Vaughn of Grovetown rounded out the field.
Ricky Sanders Racing, Inc. Bandits Division
“It feels great to win the championship. When we started in bandits I was really nervous but here we are with a championship,” Thompson said. “It’s great coming from Alabama to win a championship here in Georgia. I don’t know how to explain it but it feels great.”
Kenneth Henderson of Alto, Lucas Ruark of Suwanee, Colsen Cochran of Ringgold and Ryan Younginer of Stockbridge finished second through fifth, respectively.
Wallace Electric Rookie Bandoleros Division
In the Wallace Electric Rookie Bandolero Division feature, Woodruff, S.C., native Luke Cooper led all but the first lap to score his first Thursday Thunder victory of the year. Rounding out the field behind him were Carter Griffis of Homerville, Bailey North of McDonough, Denton Clem of Eastman and Lee Brown of Acworth.
Plemons Young Lions Division
The Young Lions Division entered the night with one of the closest title races of the night with DJ Canipe leading by three points over Harrison Halder. Both drivers held three victories entering the night.
A Canipe victory meant he would drive away with the title. But in the event of a Halder victory and a second-place finish by Canipe, it would mean a tie in the final points table that would trigger a tie-breaker.
Though Halder, Canipe and Valdosta’s Ryan Rackley each challenged for the lead, the tie-breaker would come into play as Halder and Canipe finished first and second, respectively. Halder would be named the champion as he held the fourth win, one more than Canipe, to take the 2017 title.
“All I thought about was finishing ahead of DJ (Canipe) to win the championship,” Halder said. “And I did. It feels great to win the championship.”
Racing Radios Pro Division
After two playoff races and a NASCAR-style elimination process, six drivers – Jensen Jorgensen of Stockbridge, Corey Heim of Marietta, William Martin of Douglasville, Canon Cochran of Ringgold, Russel Fleeman of Dacula and Josh Hicks of Senoia – were the final six drivers eligible for the Racing Radios Pro Division championship, with the top finisher among them in Saturday night’s feature laying claim to the title.
With tensions mounting as the Pro Division field of 10 cars took the green flag, it was anyone’s race to win on the other side of the 25-lap feature. Five-time winner Jorgensen started on the pole with William Martin starting second. Jorgensen led 15 of 16 laps before contact sent him to the back of the field with Matthew Barnard and Martin also involved. Heim took over the lead on the ensuing restart.
Later in the race, Jorgensen’s night ended with more contact rending his car undrivable six laps from the finish.
“I don’t have much to say,” Jorgensen said in the garage. “It’s very disappointing. I’m leaving this track tonight with my head high knowing that I’m a champion and I don’t mean that in a cocky way. I won half the races this season. All my family and friends know — and that’s all I really care about.”
Playoff drivers Heim, Martin, and Fleeman, as well as Barnard, were all who remained as the final laps began to tick off, and Corey Heim managed to hold Martin and Fleeman at bay to claim his second victory of the season and secure the 2017 Pro Division title.
Martin wound up finishing second both in Saturday night’s race and in the standings, while Russell and Barnard rounded out the field of finishing drivers.
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Legends and Bandolero racing continues with its fall points series beginning on Saturday, Sept. 9. Infield admission is available for $20, and passes can be purchased at the Security Command building near the speedway’s main entrance.
For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.