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Champions to be crowned at Thursday Thunder

Photo by Derrick Mahone / Skip Nichols will be looking to add to his record Thursday Thunder career win total.

Photo by Derrick Mahone / Skip Nichols will be looking to add to his record Thursday Thunder career win total.

HAMPTON — The chase is on.

With Thursday Thunder reaching its final day of racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, several divisions will decide its champion.

The Masters division, considered one of the top divisions in the grassroots racing series, will decide its champion on the last day. Skip Nichols, the all-time winningest driver at Thursday Thunder with 48 career wins, will have to hold off second place racer Tina Johnson to capture his sixth division title.

Nichols, who has four wins this season, has 862 points while Johnson, who has two wins, is four points behind at 858 points.

At one point during the season, there were five drivers within five points of the top spot in the standings.

“This is real exciting,” said Nichols, an Albany native. “In my 16 years of racing, the Masters division is always close. There are so many good competitors in this field.”

Nichols is fortunate to be in the thick of the race after a bad start to the 10-week racing series.

On opening night, he ran out of gas going into the final laps.

“I was happy to be able to climb back into it,” Nichols said.

Johnson said she expected a tight race from the start.

“This is very interesting because we are all pretty even,” Johnson said. “It will come down to who makes the least mistakes, and mental focus.”

Ed Clark agreed.

“It has been about the luck of the draw,” he said. “There will be a lot of action out their with some bumping. It is about the driver that can seize the opportunity. This is definitely a good group of guys.”

Regardless of the winner, drivers in the Masters division say having the championship come down to the last race is fun and exciting for both the fans and drivers.

“It is a fun challenge,” Nichols said. “You just don't want to be driving around the track in circles by yourself.”