Last-Lap Thrillers In Thursday Thunder

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Mark Swan in victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (AMS photo)
Mark Swan in victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (AMS photo)

HAMPTON, Ga. — Mother Nature provided perfect weather and Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thunder Ring provided the perfect setting for some spectacular last-lap clashes during Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John’s.

The tone was set early in the evening during the Wallace Electric Masters Division feature. Bill Plemons Jr., already a 3-time winner in the division this season, dominated throughout – but a restart with 5 laps to go gave 2018 division champion Robbie Woodall an opportunity to grab the lead.

It appeared the pair was going to have a battle to determine the victor like they have numerous times over the last two seasons as Woodall took the white flag with Plemons right on his bumper. Then Woodall slid up the track, Plemons jockeyed to the inside, and the two got tangled up. As their cars struggled to separate, Mark Swan, of Athens, and Tony Armbruster, of Covington, swung to the outside to steal first and second.

“I tell you what – that’ll take your breath away,” Swan said. “I don’t like to win that way but I’ll definitely take it. It’s a sweet one and I’ll remember it for a long time.”

With the bar set for thrilling finishes, the CMS Group Environmental Services Semi-Pro Division field went all out to top it.

The race featured an incredible battle at the front of the pack between D.J. Canipe and Hunter Wright, who traded the lead several times. With two laps to go, Canipe crossed the stripe first; at the white flag, Wright had wrestled the top spot away, but the battle allowed a lurking Nick Woodall to close up from 3rd and make a move of his own to the inside for the lead.

When the field took the checkered flag, it was Canton’s Nick Woodall crossing the stripe first, followed by Canipe and Wright in second and third.

“They were racing hard at the end and I was in the right spot at the right time,” Woodall, of Canton, said after picking up his first win in the 2019 Thursday Thunder season. “Thankfully I had a car at the end there that could win it.”

The highly competitive VP Racing Fuels Pro Division produced its fourth different winner in four races so far in 2019. After celebrating with his sister Taylor in victory lane last week, Stockbridge’s Jensen Jorgensen dueled wheel-to-wheel with a hungry William Plemons III on a late restart, edging ahead on the final lap to put his car in victory lane.

“I hated seeing that caution come out because I had the race won,” Jorgensen said. “I appreciate William racing me clean there. That was some of the cleanest, hardest racing I’ve done in a long time.

“We were rubbing tires around the whole entire track so that was fun! If that wasn’t a show, I don’t know what is.”

In The Associates Group Young Lions Division feature Austin MacDonald, racing more than 1,700 miles away from his home in Canada, took the checkered flag first. MacDonald snapped a three-race win streak for Lucas Ruark, of Suwanee, who settled for second.

In the Racing Radios Bandoleros Trevor Wester, of Canton, N.C., took the win in the Outlaw Division feature. Garrett Gumm, of Brooks, took his second victory of the season in the Racing Radios Bandits feature and Mitchell Flater, of Conyers, took the checkered flag first in the Racing Radios Rookie Bandolero feature. Sunny Side’s Jonathan Cook earned his first win in a Legend car at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Chargers feature.