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Tight races make for intense competition

Photo by Derrick Mahone

Terry Mathis works on his car last week after winning his third Masters division race at Thursday Thunder. He will enter today's final race as the divison leader.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Terry Mathis works on his car last week after winning his third Masters division race at Thursday Thunder. He will enter today's final race as the divison leader.

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

When Terry Mathis heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway today for the final Masters division race of the season at Thursday Thunder, he will double check to make sure he has packed his lucky helmet.

Clinging to a two-point lead over Bill Plemons Jr., and five-point lead over Thursday Thunder all-time winningest driver Skip Nichols, Mathis will take all the help he can get.

"You can be sure I'll have my lucky helmet on," Mathis said last week after winning his third race of the season. "This is going to be a tight race for the championship. It will be anybody's race. We are all right together."

The Masters division points race is not the only one that will be decided on the final day of the summer racing series.

In the Semi-Pro division, defending champion William Plemons III is four points behind last year's runner-up, Luke Behnke, for the title.

"I wish I had a bigger lead because four points is not a lot to overcome," Behnke said. "I'm expecting some hard racing, but I hope nobody does anything stupid. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

Bill Plemons said the Masters division will come down to which driver runs the smartest race.

"We are all experienced drivers," Plemons said. "We are good mental racers with good equipment. You have to listen to your car. It will tell you what you need to do to win. A lot of the young drivers don't listen to their car. They don't understand that part of racing."

The majority of the other divisions have pretty much been decided, which makes the Masters and Semi-Pro races the highlight of the final week.

Roswell native Parker Barnes has dominated the Outlaws division with eight wins in the previous nine weeks. Madeline Crane is the only other driver in the division to win a race. Barnes has the most wins of any driver this season.

Mason Massey, a Winston native, has had similar success in the Young Lions division. He has six wins, and has a 68-point advantage over second-place driver Grant Crane. The race for second will be competitive with Crane, Justin Thomas and Anderson Bowen all separated by a point.

Nichols, who has five Masters championships, has an opportunity to sweep the Masters and Roadsters division. He is currently in first place in the Roadster with a 21-point lead over AMS president Ed Clark.

Entering the final race, Nichols, an Albany native, has seven wins in the Roadster division while Clark has two.