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Behnke ‘thrilled’ to race again at AMS

File Photo
Luke Behnke has only raced three times at Atlanta Motor Speedway since capturing the 2011 Semi-Pro division title.

File Photo Luke Behnke has only raced three times at Atlanta Motor Speedway since capturing the 2011 Semi-Pro division title.

HAMPTON — It been eight months since Luke Behnke has climbed into a Legends car and raced around the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

THURSDAY THUNDER

When, where: Thursday, Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton

Fan feature: Fans will have the opportunity to cool off with fun activities such as a belly flop contest, Super Soaker wars and a water balloon toss.

Tickets: $6 for Adults, $2 for children ages 6-11, and free for ages five and younger.

On that late October day, the 20-year-old Fayette County driver had a top 5 finish in the INEX Legends Asphalt Nationals.

For the second straight summer, Behnke has not had the opportunity to regularly compete at Thursday Thunder as he is learning the marketing side of professional racing.

But the Kennesaw State junior is “excited and anxious” about his opportunity to drive on Thursday in the Semi-pro division featured race. He will be subbing for Hub Talbot.

“It’s probably a one-time deal for me,” Behnke said. “It will be the exact same car that I drove at Nationals, except for a different number.”

Last race season, Behnke worked at TNT on its NASCAR coverage, this summer, he is living in the Charlotte area while interning for Joe Gibbs Racing.

While he enjoys the marketing side, Behnke said he is looking forward to getting back in a car.

He has attended the previous three weekly races at AMS while hanging out with competitors and friends at AMS. Living near Charlotte, Behnke also attends The Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord.

But getting behind the wheel again will bring a different feeling.

“When you are at the track, it is a different approach you take when you are going to race,” Behnke said. “I’m thrilled with the opportunity to drive on Thursday. I’ll have some family and friends at the track. I have a passion for racing. It is a different feeling once you put that helmet on.”

Last year, he appeared in one race as a substitute driver and finished fifth in the last week of the grassroots racing series. In 2011, his last full season of racing, Behnke won the Semi-Pro division with three first place finishes and five runner-up spots.

It was a dramatic season as he edged out William Plemons III in the final race to clinch the division. Behnke compiled 973 points and Plemons finished with 972 after being hit with a 10-point penalty for an altercation in the garage.

Although coming to the track each week has been fun, Behnke said being on the track is better.

“This is like another family for you,” he said. “I miss it a lot because it’s your second family. It’s been tough the last two years, but I’m happy with the opportunity to learn the other side of the business. I’m trying to position myself for a career outside of racing. I’m just looking forward to being on the track Thursday.”