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Green flag ready to drop on another year of Thursday Thunder

File Photo
Last summer, Alex Coffey of McDonough drove his No. 7 car to the points championship in the Bandolero Bandits Division in the Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

File Photo Last summer, Alex Coffey of McDonough drove his No. 7 car to the points championship in the Bandolero Bandits Division in the Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

By Doug Gorman

dgorman@news-daily

The green flag drops on the 14th season of the Thursday Thunder summer racing series tonight at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

When the 10-week summer racing series first started in 1998, Atlanta Motor Speedway wasn't sure exactly what they had.

In the years since, the track has hit paydirt, with racers of all abilities able to show off their skills in eight different classifications.

"It's been a lot of fun," Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark said. "We have had some people who have been racing with us from the start."

Defending champs: The follwing drivers are Thursday Thunder defending champs Alex Coffey (Bandits), Skip Nichols (Masters), John Holemen (Outlaws), David McIntosh (Pros), Brian Meredith (Roadsters) and William Plemons III (Semi-Pro). All are expected to be back this year to defend their titles.

Making a living in NASCAR: Three current NASCAR drivers cut their racing teeth on a regular basis in the early days of Thursday Thunder. Reed Sorenson (1998-2002) raced in the Young Lions, Semi-Pro and Pro Divisions. The Woodward Academy graduate won 22 times. He also captured the AMS points titles in 1998, '99 and 2001. Sorenson has won three times in the NASCAR Nationwide series.

David Ragan (1998-00) won nine times during his years racing in Thursday Thunder.

During his years on the Thursday Thunder circuit he raced in Bandoleros, Young Guns, Young Lions and Semi-Pros division. The future star even returned to his racing roots in 2009 and competed in one Pro division race, finishing second.

Ragan now drives for the Rousch Racing team in the Sprint Cup Series. He beat his cousin Brett Ragan by 16 points to capture the Semi-Pro Division in 2000.

Joey Logano (1999-2003) now races for Joe Gibbs on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, but rewrote the Thursday Thunder record books during his days in a Bandolero and Legend Car. He still holds the record for most consecutive wins at AMS (14). Logano was also the youngest driver to ever compete in a Legends race when he did so at the age of 9.

Buzz Car makes debut: The newest division at Thursday Thunder, the buzz car, gives the casual race fan at chance to compete without spending a lot of money. It is a three of four cylinder stock car.