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Consistency key to Mitchell's success

By Anthony Rhoads

Last year, Kyle Mitchell won the 2002 Thursday Thunder Bandits points championship without winning a race.

Even though the 12-year-old from McDonough didn't capture any checkered flags, he was ?Mr. Consistency' with eight top-five finishes.

This season, Mitchell is gunning for his second Bandits title but he is also ranked in the national standings. Going into today's event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he was third in the national points standings.

Mitchell has been competing at Thursday Thunder since 2000. Last week, he finished second in the Bandolero Bandits event and 15th in the Semi-Pro Division, his first race in a Legends car.

Mitchell isn't the only Thursday Thunder regular driver to be ranked national.

In the Pro Division, Morrow's Andy James is sixth and Hampton's Chris Dilbeck is ninth in the race for the national points championship.

Hanging out with the governor: Last Thursday, Dilbeck spent about 15 minutes with Gov. Sonny Perdue at his office at the Capitol.

"I told him he needed to come see us at Thursday Thunder and gave him a schedule of when we're running," Dilbeck said. "He said he'd try to come out and wished me luck for tonight and the rest of the season."

Dilbeck placed sixth in the Pro Division race last week. In Charlotte's Summer Shootout Series Tuesday, Dilbeck finished second.

Last year, Dilbeck won three races in the Semi-Pro Division and was third in the final season standings at Thursday Thunder.

Elliott to appear at Thursday Thunder: Atlanta Motor Speedway officials announced that Dawsonville native and NASCAR legend Bill Elliott will be competing in the June 19 Throwdown Showdown III race against Eagle 106.7's Dallas McCade and AMS president Ed Clark.

Fans will determine the starting lineup through donations. The driver with the most money raised will start in the pole position. Proceeds from the event will go to Rhubarb Jones' March Across Georgia to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Honoring a real hero: Taylor Hull has a special name imprinted on the back of his car when he competes at Thursday Thunder.

His racecar bears the name of his 24-year-old brother-in-law Chris Vegas, an Army Captain who is serving in Iraq.

Hull, a 15-year-old from Douglas County, is in his first season competing at Thursday Thunder.