0

Newnan’s Winger has quick rise to the top

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Ashton Winger (left) looks on as his father, Eddie, works on his race car during a rain delay at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday. The younger Winger entered the week as the points leader at Thursday Thunder in the Bandits division, but a tenth-place finish on Wednesday pushed him back.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Ashton Winger (left) looks on as his father, Eddie, works on his race car during a rain delay at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday. The younger Winger entered the week as the points leader at Thursday Thunder in the Bandits division, but a tenth-place finish on Wednesday pushed him back.

Eddie Winger and his son, Ashton, heard an ad on the radio three years ago about Thursday Thunder racing.

The two made the trek from their Newnan home to Atlanta Motor Speedway to check out the action, and they have been coming back ever since.

But instead of sitting in the grandstands at AMS, 13-year-old Ashton has been racing on the Thunder Ring in the weekly summer racing series.

“It was really cool when my dad first brought me to the track,” Ashton said during a rain delay at AMS on Thursday. “It looked real easy.”

That assessment changed once he got behind the wheel of his Bandolero car.

“It was a little harder than I thought,” he said.

During his first racing season in 2010, Winger finished sixth overall in the Bandits division. His best finish was fourth during Week 2 of the series.

Not bad for a novice driver.

Last summer, he finished runner-up to Joshua Hicks by 29 points. Winger had one win and nine other top five finishes on the quarter-mile track.

“He has been doing good this season,” said Eddie Winger, who used to race Legend cars growing up in Tennessee. “He has good car control. He has certainly come a long way.”

Eddie Winger said once he gets Ashton and his 10-year-old son Colby established enough in the sport, he might get back behind the wheel. Colby is playing summer baseball.

Ashton also plays baseball, but racing takes priority on Thursdays during the summer racing series.

“Eventually, he might have to chose between the two,” said Eddie, a retired Army veteran.

The times at the track with Ashton is more than just about racing. It offers the two some bonding time.

In between a rain delay Thursday, the pair were making some repairs on Ashton’s car.

On Wednesday, Ashton had a slight collision that saw him get a 10th-place finish. Coming into the week, he led the Bandits division with 479 points with Chandler Smith in second with 473 points.

“I’m pretty pleased at how quickly I was able to pick the sport up,” Winger said. “I still enjoy playing baseball, but right now racing is my top sport.”