Photos by Derrick Mahone
William Plemons III holds off Luke Behnke in the Semi-Pro division race during the Thursday Thunder racing series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
By Derrick Mahone
When William Plemons III climbed out of his car in victory lane Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he was handed a checkered flag for a brief photo session.
He held the flag with his left hand as he spread the fingers on his right hand to show the five Thursday Thunder victories he has gotten this season.
In the last two years since returning to racing after a 10-year hiatus, Plemons has pulled into victory lane seven times. He is a win and some needed help away from claiming his second straight Semi-Pro division championship.
Next week, Plemons, who is four points behind Luke Behnke in the points standings, needs a win and hopes that Behnke finishes no better than third.
"I still think that I can win it," Plemons said. "I'm gunning for the win. He has a four-point advantage, but I'm going to give it my best shot. I'm going to do all I can do to make it happen."
Plemons would have taken a three-point lead into next week's final Thursday Thunder racing series race, but was docked seven points for a garage altercation with another driver.
That could be the difference in him claiming his second division victory in a row.
I've won five of the nine races so far this season, and you can't ask for a better showing than that," Plemons said. "I hate things happen the way they did with the altercation. If I could go back, yeah, I would change it. I don't want that to tarnish the fact that Luke might win. He has raced hard all year and deserves the credit."
Behnke, an incoming freshman at Kennesaw State University, said that he expects a tight, close race from Plemons next week as they are both gunning for the championship.
Last summer, Plemons won the division by three points with Behnke finishing second.
"Of course you feel a little pressure when you have the lead," Behnke said. "Four points is not a lot of room. You just hope to race hard with friends. Your friends are going to be your friends and of course your enemies will be out there regardless of what happens."
Plemons and Behnke have gone hard against each other the entire season, but always shake hands in the garage afterwards. Both are expecting an intense race next week.
"I would rather have a bigger lead," Behnke said. "I'm looking forward to some hard racing with nothing stupid. You want a clean race."
Plemons is not the only driver in his family with a shot at a championship. His father, Bill, is within reach of winning the Masters division. The elder Plemons entered Thursday's race tied with career wins champion Skip Nichols.
Both Plemons said it would be special for the father-son tandem to bring home championships in the same year.
"That would be awesome," the younger Plemons said. "My dad is the person that makes all this happen for me."