HAMPTON, GA – In the recent NBA playoffs, the subject of "flopping," the act of players deliberately falling down to draw a foul, garnered a good amount of attention from fans and media. At Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder, however, drivers have no interest in laying back in order to finish a few positions further towards the back of the field.
The race procedures at the Speedway's weekly grassroots short track racing call for the previous week's feature winner and the points leader in each division to start the current week's feature from the fourth row. That means that regardless of a finishing order of preliminary heat races, the points leader and previous week's winner can start no better than seventh, forcing them to race through the field to get to the front.
"(When I was), starting eighth, it was hard going through the pack," said Tina Johnson, who is currently second in the standings in the Masters division. "When you've got 13 cars and are trying to make it up to the front in a 20-lap race, it's hard."
As leaders continue to start back in the field each week, in a place where there is a potential to get caught up in an early race accident, those drivers adjust, racing through the field.
"We have a really good car. We've gotten good at passing cars and get through the field pretty fast," said Riley Thornton, who leads the Allred Family Dentistry Semi Pro division.
But even if it means a better starting position, Thursday Thunder drivers have no interest in finishing further back. Their intention is to race for each and every position.
"We as racers always want to win and do our best," Johnson said.
"This early, it's not too bad. But later on, you'd want to even though you have to start at the back."
The Fun Junction Young Lions division features a majority of the youngest drivers in Legends cars at Thursday Thunder. This division has exhibited the most parity out of any division on the quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" this summer as it is the only division with four different winners through four feature races.
Woodrow Mullis, William Byron, Alex Coffey and Payton Ryan have each earned victories this season. Mullis currently leads the points standings but has very little margin for error, leading Byron by two points and Ryan by three points. In fourth place and well within striking distance is Coffey, who had a streak of three top-five finishes in a row snapped last week.
This week at Thursday Thunder be Chick-fil-A night at Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Chick-fil-A also has a concession stand in the main concourse at Thursday Thunder and Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine where select Chick-fil-A products are sold.
This Thursday will also be Summer Splash Night at Thursday Thunder. 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.
Fans are invited to the Papa John's Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza on July 4th at Thursday Thunder. Following the regular racing program, the largest Fourth of July fireworks display on Atlanta's south side will take place and will be fully viewable from the Speedway's grandstands.
Each week, Thursday Thunder will present an interactive experience for families, with concourse activities such as face painting, woodworks and more. Every Thursday Thunder event will feature an autograph session with competitors. Plus there will be contests and games for spectators to participate in while in the grandstands, like a Root Beer Chugging contest, trivia, dance contests and more.
Tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing series costs just $6 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 through 211 and is free for children ages 5 and younger. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.