Nichols wins in wild finish to Masters race

By Jeffery Armstrong

There were several spinouts, a tremendous wreck in which a car flipped into the air before landing on its tires and five caution flags.

Other than that, the Tanger Outlet Center Masters division race at Thursday Thunder was pretty uneventful.

Skip Nichols of Albany managed to overcome the distractions to grab the checkered flag at the Atlanta Motor Speedway's summer event and he was pretty pleased.

"It's nice to be back in the victory circle. I won the points championship for two years straight and was heading for a third one, but I had car trouble and finished second," Nichols said. "I've got a new car this year and tonight I was in the right place at the right race."

Nichols, 55, absolutely loves coming to AMS despite having to travel nearly 150 miles every week to compete in Thursday Thunder. On the plus side for Nichols, he has family members who live in this area so he has a place to crash (pardon the pun) before race night. Nichols, a self-proclaimed "people person," said he enjoys the camaraderie and atmosphere at Thursday Thunder, even a bit more than winning races.

"Winning's fine and all, but I love the people here and the guys I race with. Everyone's so friendly to me and that's great," said Nichols. "When I come here, my goal is to have fun and be safe."

In regards to safety, Nichols was glad to know that Masters driver Bryan Weimer of Cumming, the flip victim, was able to walk away from his car on his own power.

"That's great that he is okay," Nichols said.

Weimer's accident happened as he ran into fellow racer Larry Friddle of Greenville, S.C., who spun out in the middle of the track. Once Weimer hit Friddle, he went airborne, flipped on his top and landed back on his tires. With safety personnel surrounding him, Weimer managed to walk out of the car and head back to the garage, furious that his race night was over.

Local drivers in the Masters division, Hampton's Jim Gresham and Wade Brewer and Dwight Pilgram of Stockbridge, finished sixth, seventh and 11th, respectively. Other Thursday Thunder winners were Chris Dilbeck of Hampton (Pro), Kyle Fowler (Bandits), Tina Johnson (Outlaws), Jim Egloff (Roadsters), Jason Magagna (Young Guns), Chris Roger (Semi-Pro) and Mahlon Winstead (Chargers).

Dilbeck, a recent Henry County High graduate, was the only repeat winner this week.