Wednesday, August 23, 2000
of Thursday Thunder comes to an end
It was a record-setting third season of Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Many series records fell this year, including most wins, most consecutive wins, oldest champion and the first three-time series champion.
Granger Outlaws champion Rick Godfrey Sr., Granger Young Guns champion Alan Happel and Bandits runner-up Joey Logano each won eight races this season, tying a series record set by Reed Sorenson in 1998 and tied by Walt Brannen in 1999. In addition, Logano's eight race wins occurred in consecutive weeks, giving him the record for most consecutive wins. Sorenson held the previous record after winning six straight in the Young Lions division in 1998.
Godfrey and Happel had their streaks broken during week six, their only losses of the season. Only nine total races were run this season after one week was rained out. Both Godfrey and Happel went on to win championships in their divisions, tying for the most points accrued this season with 947. It was the first Thursday Thunder title for each.
Despite winning every Moore Machinery Movers Bandits race he ran, Logano could not wrestle the championship away from John Wes Townley. After missing the first Bandits race of the year, Logano never could make up the points difference. Logano finished tied for second with Chris Cable, 25 points back.
Doug Stevens became Thursday Thunder's first three-time champion and only repeat winner by earning his third straight Jasper Engines and Transmissions Pro division championship. This year's title chase came down to the wire, with both Sorenson and Jonathan Davenport still in the running until the final race.
And at 59, Jet Food Stores/MECO Masters champion Lloyd Wittenburg became the oldest Thursday Thunder champion. Wittenburg won four races and held off Randy Tidwell, Mark Wallace and Rusty Lanier in the final weeks to earn his first title.
David Ragan, son of Legends of Georgia director Ken Ragan, earned his first championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway despite a broken wrist. Ragan broke his wrist last Tuesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but was able to complete one lap in Thursday's Cherokee Brick Semi-Pro race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, sealing the championship.
In the closest championship race of the year, Brian Meredith edged fellow Morrow resident Andy James by two points in the Chargers divisions. James won the final race, but Meredith finished second to earn his first Thursday Thunder championship.
In the Allan Vigil Southlake Ford Young Lions Division, Brandon McElroy held off Blake Powers in the final week to earn his first Thursday Thunder championship.
The ten weeks of Thursday Thunder racing action drew 168 different competitors from 88 cities across nine states. Nine of the competitors this season were female, the most in Thursday Thunder history. It will be hard to top the record-setting excitement of the 2000 Thursday Thunder season. But in ten short months, these drivers will be back to try.