By Zack Huffman
Dennis Harry was unmistakable during the Wednesday practice session that preceded what was supposed to be the first week of Thursday Thunder.
Harry, who everyone knows as "Bubba" was clearly excited for the upcoming series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After a year away, Harry was ready for his triumphant return to the Pro Division.
Most people who race Legends cars at Atlanta Motor Speedway know who Harry, a 10-year Thursday Thunder veteran. As many as 20 cars that race each Thursday are affiliated with Harry's father's garage, Harry Motorsports.
The contenders in the Pro and Roadster Divisions know if they want to win he is among the competitors they will have to go through.
Or at least that was the case until last Thursday's Pro Division race.
During the race, Harry was on the verge claiming his first Pro Division victory of the season, having led 19 consecutive laps. Harry was in the lead until fellow competitor, Zac Kittle, impacted Harry's number 13 car spinning him out of the lead.
It was the second race in a row in which Kittle had wrecked Harry out of the lead and Harry had had enough.
Just after the racers had crossed the finish line, ending the race, Harry intentionally ran his car into Kittle's number six.
"Coming down pit road he just knocked the fool out of me," said Kittle. "For a second I was really mad but then I realized he was gone for the season."
The impact, which officially took place after the race had ended, resulted in Harry receiving an "indefinite suspension" from Atlanta Motor Speedway Wednesday afternoon during the practice session for tonight's edition of Thursday Thunder.
According to Vice President of Events, Brandon Hutchison, he was sad to be in the position of having to suspend Harry, but resolute that he made the right decision.
"It's very unfortunate. The Harry family is a good, well-respected family in our garage area," he said. "In this instance, Bubba decided to take matters into his own hands instead of letting the track deal with the on-track altercation. The race was over and that was the true reason for the severity of the penalty."
Kittle's record did not come out of the race unscathed. As a result of his impact with Harry during the course of the race he received a Black Flag penalty, which automatically dropped him to last place in the last lap of the race. He now trails point leader Austin Hill by 34 points.
According to Hill, Harry's suspension will narrow the level of competition.
"He's been pretty fast, it's going to affect it all, he might have held back Kittle a bit," said Hill. "It would have been a real good race between us three for the points. We're just going to keep driving like we've been driving, finishing up front every week, keeping our nose clean and not doing what they did."
Kittle is less convinced that Harry's absence will have a dramatic effect on the competition.
"I don't know why everyone thought Bubba was going to be the favorite," said Kittle. "He was one of the ones to beat, but I didn't count him in for the championship."
According to Hutchison, Harry's absence will be a loss for Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"I wish last week would not have happened," he said. "I would have loved to see Bubba make a run for the championship. I'm a race fan and we've now got one less driver that can run for the championship. I'm not happy about that."
Harry will continue racing Saturday nights at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga, while also racing his Roadster at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga.