By Zack Huffman
Despite a brief rainfall, Thursday Thunder progressed as usual at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Except, there was an abundance of competitors. Certainly more so than in weeks past.
Racers from all over the country have converged upon AMS for the Bandolero Nationals which will take place Saturday.
According to Vice Director of Events Brandon Hutchison, the Bandolero Nationals promises to attract some of the top Bandolero competition from across the United States.
"I couldn't be more excited," he said. "We've got a ton of cars here from out of state. It looks like the weather is going to be great. We're going to have some real good rcing here in the next few days."
Hutchison also said he was expecting at least 80 racers to take part in the national competition.
The Bandolero is not just a chance for racers to meet competitors from around the country, it is a chance to be crowned in a national champion in their specific division.
Taylor Jorgenen, who is from Stockbridge and has been competing in Thursday Thunder as part of the Young guns Division, is looking forward to her first attempt at a national championship.
"Usually the races are only 20 laps but for the nationals it's going to be 40. It's a lot more racing," she said. "This is my first year in Young Guns, but I have a good chance. I'm still going to fight for the win."
This season, due to the fact that there are just three racers consistently competing at AMS in the Outlaws Division, they have had their races combined with the Young Guns Division.
Thanks to the presence of more Outlaws racers in the Nationals, the Outlaws will finally have their own separate race, beginning with Thursday Thunder.
"Ususally the outlaws run with the young guns because we don't have a lot of people," said Garrett Smithley, who is currently nine points behind point leader Luke Benhke in the Thursday Thunder Outlaw Division. "We should be running alone. There's going to be a lot more competition and better racing."
"I'll hopefully be running with a lot of competitive cars, and hopefully pull out a win," said Benhke. "It will be interesting to see how it plays out."
Benhke will be facing his chief rival Smithley at the Nationals.
"Garret is one of my good friends. Hopefully we'll go out there and race clean and I'll end up winning," he added. "Winning Nationals and the Outlaws championships is probably the two biggest goals for both of us."