HAMPTON, Ga. — There were fireworks on track and in the sky for drivers who claimed season titles in the Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John’s finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Just three points separated the top two drivers in the VP Racing Fuels Pro Division entering the final race, with Joshua Hicks holding the narrow lead over Jensen Jorgensen. However, the championship picture changed shortly after the race started, with an incident in the first turn collecting several cars, including the top two racing for the title.
Both Hicks and Jorgensen’s cars required repairs; Hicks returned to the action in time to stay at the tail end of the lead lap while Jorgensen dropped two laps before returning to the race, essentially ending his hopes of winning the title.
Meanwhile up front, Harrison Halder showed the way until the final lap only to have 2018 Pro champion Cody Hall wrestle the lead away coming to the line. Halder finished second and Hicks recovered from his earlier setback to claim third and ultimately the season championship.
“It was a hard-fought summer. I didn’t think we had a chance around week five, but then we started winning races and some other people had bad races and that put us back in the game,” Hicks said as he reflected on the season. “In the end, we were able to overcome all of the obstacles and win.”
D.J. Canipe controlled his destiny in the CMS Group Environmental Services Semi-Pro Division, needing to finish fourth or better to guarantee he’d remain ahead of Nick Woodall, his closest competitor.
Woodall did everything he could on his end, securing the pole and winning his fifth feature race of the season, but Canipe also brought his A-game, finishing third to win the championship by just four points.
“I just had to run my race. I knew where I had to finish to get the championship so I did my best to run up front and get it done,” Canipe said.
“I tried to stay out front the whole time. I gotta thank Canipe for racing me clean and everyone who’s made this possible for me,” added Woodall.
A pair of Racing Ruarks from Suwanee finished atop the standings of their respective divisions, and both capped off their successful seasons with victories on finale night. Lucas Ruark outran Samuel Butler and Ashton Whitener to end the summer with his seventh victory and the title in The Associates Group Young Lions. Younger brother Carson Ruark topped Lucas Vera and Aiden Garcia in the Racing Radios Bandits division finale, the fourth victory in his championship season.
In the Wallace Electric Masters Division Bill Plemons, Jr. took his eighth checkered flag in ten races to put an exclamation mark on a championship season that was seven years in the making.
“It seemed like every year in this race I’d be in contention and something would happen,” Plemons said. “But I said I’m not quitting until I win this championship!”
Carson Ramsay needed only to avoid trouble in the Racing Radios Outlaws division finale to secure the title. With a third-place finish he did just that as his teammates Parker Eatmon and Trevor Wester finished first and second, respectively.
No titles were on the line in the Racing Radios Rookie Bandoleros or Chargers features, but trophies awaited those who crossed the line first. In the Rookie Bandoleros it was Bailey Buchanan taking home the hardware, while Graham Campbell took the victory in the Chargers feature.