By Brian Paglia
Since the season's opening race, William Plemons III became certain that luck had abandoned him. After marking his return to Thursday Thunder after a 10-year hiatus with a Semi-Pro victory, Plemons III finished out of the top 5 in four of the next six races. Twice he didn't finish and once he spun out.
But, luck returned for Plemons III on Thursday.
With last week's cancellation, due to weather, heat races were cancelled. Pole position was determined by random drawing, except for the points leader, who started eighth. And the first name pulled was Plemons III.
Plemons III rode his good fortune to victory, leading all 20 laps to claim his second Semi-Pro victory this season and third of his Thursday Thunder career.
Despite his victory, Plemons III didn't make up much ground on Mike Weed and Jake Armstrong, who came into Thursday's double features separated by just one point for the Semi-Pro championship. Plemons III was 22 points back going into the night and resigned to the fact he may not catch Weed and Armstrong by next week's final race.
"We're just running for fun, more or less," Plemons III said. "It's nice to run for points, but we just like to come out here and race and have fun. That's what it's all about, just entertainment."
Weed and Armstrong were the ones who came into the race aiming at a championship. But they finished in vastly different fashion.
Armstrong started with the outside pole, but he found a way to get prime position on the inside early.
"That's always a big thing when you're starting on the outside," Armstrong said. "I got around Garrett (Smithley). I kind of pinched him. Then, from there it was just me and (Plemons III)."
Armstrong never found a way to pass Plemons III, but second place felt as good as a win, especially with Weed finishing eighth after getting sent to the back with Greg Lang on the third lap.
"We were rolling to the front," Weed said. "I got a run up under (Lang) going into turn three and he cut down on me, poked me and I spun. They threw a caution and put us in the rear. That's what caused the bad finish."
Before the race began, Armstrong trailed Weed by one point. When it was over, Armstrong seized a 16-point lead going into the night's second feature.
Armstrong said gaining the points lead was significant, but so was keeping his car in one piece with another feature race to go.
"You can't wreck your car in the first feature," Armstrong said, "because you have another race to run. That definitely plays a factor."
Armstrong said the pressure of a double feature night didn't affect his driving. He still waited through the first couple laps as cars bunched together, ready to make his move once the pack thinned and cars became singled out.
He remained calm, just as he has all season. Armstrong said that's not going to change now that he's the points leader.
"Honestly, I feel pretty relaxed," he said. "This whole year has been pretty easy going for us. I don't know what it is. Just kind of going with the flow, letting the chips fall where they may."