By Anthony Rhoads
Skip Nichols has won two straight Masters Division points titles at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder summer racing series and he might just be on his way for a third.
Thursday, Nichols won his second race in a row to move into first place in the 2003 season points standings.
To win Thursday's event, Nichols had to beat out Dwight Pilgrim, a racing veteran who hasn't won yet at Thursday Thunder.
"When he gets his first win, I'll jump up and down but I couldn't let him have it tonight," Nichols said. "It was a good race. It's just going to be a matter of time before Dwight starts winning. These are my friends. We're competitive but off the track we help each other and it's like one big, happy family. We just have fun and that is what Legends and Bandolero racing is all about."
Rounding out the top five in Thursday's race were Sam McCullough, Randy Thorton and Mark Wallace.
Even though Pilgrim, a Stockbridge resident, hasn't won at Thursday Thunder, he's no stranger to Victory Lane. Pilgram has won three straight Georgia State Masters points championships and is a two-time winner of the Race of Champions (2000, 2002).
"It was a good race tonight," Pilgram said. "Skip races cleanly and he's a tough competitor. Eventually, I'm going to get my first win here; I thought I was going to get it tonight."
At Thursday Thunder there is camaraderie among the drivers, especially among the Masters, a division for competitors 40-years and older.
"The Masters guys, being over 40, respect each other's cars and equipment," Pilgram said. "The guys over 40 don't like to get into the garage and work on their cars as much as the 16-year olds. We don't race any harder but we have a good rapport with one another. We're not here to make a lot of money; we're here to have a good time and to put on a good show for the fans."
Even though Pilgram has raced at Thursday Thunder many times, he isn't particularly fond of the quarter-mile track.
"I'm more of a big-track specialist at places like Cordele or Lanier," he said. "I don't like this place; it's too close and too tight. It's one of the hardest tracks to race on. It's a very challenging track and if you win here, you've really done something."
Pilgram has been racing since 1976 and currently works at the Legends of Georgia shop at Atlanta Motor Speedway.