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Experience pays off

By Jeffery Armstrong

The drivers in two of the most experienced divisions performed well during week five of Thursday Thunder at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Ryan Jernigan of Hickory, N.C. won the Bandolero Outlaws Division race and Brian Weimer of Cumming won the Tanger Outlet Center Masters race for the second straight week.

The Outlaws division is the oldest Bandolero race class, designed for drivers age 17 and older. The Masters division is the oldest Legends class, designed for drivers 40 and older.

Jernigan, 19, was happy to collect his first win at AMS in three tries.

"This was great for me. It's the first win in Atlanta and it came against tough competition and on the toughest track we race on," said Jernigan.

Jernigan said the AMS track is tough because it's more narrow than other tracks in Charlotte and in Florida and there are no markings to let a driver know when to brake.

Three weeks ago, Weimer was bumped during his race and his Legends car flipped over onto the grass, ending his racing night. Since that unfortunate incident, Weimer has been as electrifying as the fireworks display that ended Thursday night's races. Weimer has finished first, second and first since the accident and is now third in the points standings - 11 points back prior to Thursday's race.

"I've been running good ever since that accident," Weimer said. "The key for me is to stay out of everybody's way. Once I'm in front, I'm okay. It's hard to get bumped when you're leading the pack."

Weimer said he can't take all the credit for his consecutive victories at Thursday Thunder. He said he has one man to thank for his wins.

"I owe all my success to Dwight Pilgram. That's the truth," said Weimer. "He has been great. He's been working on my car and he does a great job."

Weimer said he and Pilgram, who's from Stockbridge, are waging a fierce battle for the state and national Masters points championship. They compete hard on the track, but they are friends once the race is over.

"Brian is a good guy and a good competitor. I enjoy racing against him," said Pilgram, who works at the Legends of Georgia maintenance shop. "I built the car he drove tonight and another car for him last winter and he's done a great job driving it."

Pilgram has been the Georgia State Masters Champion for four straight years since 2000, but it might be difficult to secure the title in 2004 if Weimer keeps up his torrid pace.

"I'd really like to win a fifth straight championship, but if I keep building great cars for Brian, it will be tough," Pilgram said. "Right now, it feels like I'm beating myself."

In other Thursday Thunder action, Chris Dilbeck's drive for five straight Pro division wins came up short. The Hampton native came in second to Bubba Harry of Griffin Thursday. It was Harry's first Pro win.

Other winners included Casey Roderick (Atlanta Dental Team Bandolero Bandits), Jim Egloff (Roadsters), Jason Magagna (Bandolero Young Guns), Casey Tate (Estes Heating and Air Semi-Pro) and Mahlon Winstead (Chargers).