Ricky Thornton Jr. Cruises to Peach State Classic Win
WRITTEN BY: RILEY HICKS
Unbelievable weekend! That is the best way to describe the Second Annual Peach State Classic held at Senoia Raceway the past two days. If you asked any driver most would say they didn’t expect to run either day, but the Pollards found a way. Right before hot laps were to begin a small rain shower rolled its way into the area, which looked like the Classic may have to wait another day. Owners Sonny and Bubba Pollard had other ideas as they rolled the track in and made a good surface for the drivers to race on.
The big question after night one was, if Kyle Bronson would take back-to-back victories or would there be a new winner hoisting the trophy. That question was answered early on as Bronson qualified in the back and would have a tough time getting to the front in the feature, which meant we would have a new winner. In qualifying Garrett Alberson and Morgan Bagley each set the quickest time in their groups. When it came time for heat races, Ricky Thorton Jr, Hudson O’neil, Morgan Bagley, and Ricky Weiss each won, setting up the top four to start the main event.
In the 75 lap feature, Thornton started on the pole and broke out an early lead from the rest of the field and would not relinquish that lead the entire race. He managed to lap all but five cars in a 24 car field while capturing the huge $53,053 pay day and solidifying himself in the Senoia Raceway history books. Managing to stay consistent all night, O’neil hung on to take second after starting third. Devin Moran worked his way to third to round out the top three. The driver to gain the most spots in the race was Ashton Winger, who passed six drivers and finished fourth. For our night one winner Kyle Bronson, started midpack and worked his way to cracking the top ten to claim ninth. Summing this race up into one sentence, nobody had anything to challenge Thornton as he cruised to a very dominant win on a tricky racing surface that changed throughout the night.
Senoia Raceway's other feature winners of the night, first went to Matt Dooley in the Crate Late Model Division. Dooley started on the outside pole and jumped to the lead in the first turn and didn’t relinquish that lead for the entire race. At one point the lead was nearly half a track ahead of the second place car, but a caution tightened the field back up. That didn’t discourage Dooley as he quickly broke the lead wide open again, and this time for good. Rounding out the top three were Rye Faulk and Ty Ellis. Dooley will now look to capture the Southern All Star Championship in a few weeks to cap off a solid year.
Kirk Atkins closed out his 2022 season with yet another Hobby victory, while battling a hard charging James Swanger and Brandon McDaniel for most of the race. Before defending the lead, Atkins first had to get to the front after starting fourth. Following a caution, he had the opportunity to get to the front and did. While he did have to defend the inside and the outside, Atkins closed the door each time and took home the win. James Swanger and Brandon Mcdaniel would claim the final podium spots.
The most competitive race of the evening came in the Modifieds between Booger Brooks and Mark Page. For the entire race, both drivers swapped positions for first and at one point it looked as if Mark Page took the lead for a win. Unfortunately, a late caution gave Brooks one more opportunity to regain the lead. Brooks drove hard to the inside of Page and stole the top spot away from him. This pass would be the final lead change that gave Brooks the victory. Page wound up taking second followed by Scottie Hiett in third.
Closing out the Peach State Classic were the bombers, who waited all night for their opportunity to shine. They didn’t disappoint as they had three drivers fighting hard for the victory for the majority of the race. At one point, Chris Steele had the upper hand above the other three competitors. In the closing laps, the momentum swung in the favor of Blant Duke, who took advantage of the low end of the track to take the lead away from Steele. Chris started losing grip on the top side and couldn’t regain the lead allowing Duke to capture the final checkered of the 2022 season. Steele took home second followed by Craig Boozer in third.
After battling everything that mother nature threw at Senoia Raceway, the Pollards found a way to put on a great show for the fans. Each night had a solid car count and fans were spread throughout the entire facility. This event only reiterates what great things are to come at Senoia Raceway in the coming years. The Pollards promise to continue to update the track and make it better for all who attend. The 2022 season has been one to remember and the Pollards can’t wait to see everyone back for the 2023 year.
Bronson Dominates Night One of Peach Bowl
WRITTEN BY: RILEY HICKS
From the very first announcement of the 2nd Annual Peach State Classic, the Pollards put everything they had into putting on a great show for the drivers and the fans. This statement still stands true after what the Pollards had to endure these past few days, battling tropical storm Nicole. While many thought the race on Friday night would never happen and that mother nature would win, the Pollards had other ideas. From laying tarps to flying helicopters Senoia Raceway found a way to put cars on the track and make a show. Considering the amount of rain that the track endured, the surface held together better than expected and we were able to crown the night one winner of the Classic.
With 52 Supers in attendance and some of the top names in the country, the fans were in for quite a show. In qualifying Dennis Erb Jr. and Tyler Millwood set the quickest times in their groups which meant they would be starting on the front row of their heats. Unfortunately for Erb, he pulled in before the checkered flag which put him starting at the rear of the field for the feature. Ashton Winger, Spencer Hughes, Mike Marlar, Kyle Bronson, Chris Madden, and Cla Knight each won their respected heat races making these six your front runners to start the main event.
After battling a tough surface all night long, many drivers didn’t manage to finish the feature due to flat tires, mechanical issues, and the inability to see out of their helmets. If you managed to stay up front you had a clear shot at claiming the victory. Many guys knew what the track might entail but they respected that the Pollards gave them a shot to race. When it was all said and done nine cars survived from start to finish.
Apart from those nine drivers was Bronson, who started on the outside pole and managed to take the lead on the first lap. He would not relinquish the lead for the entire 50 lap feature as he dominated night one of the Peach State Classic. It wasn’t all easy for Bronson as he did have to defend off a charging Marlar and Winger throughout most of the race. Unfortunately both Marlar and WInger had issues which ended their night early. After losing those two drivers Bronson had the win in hand. He looks to make it two in a row on Saturday night. Rounding out the top three were Spencer Hughes and Garrett Alberson.
In Late Model Sportsman, before even taking the green flag there was a massive pile up at the flagstand that took out quite a few frontrunners. One being Jonathan Martin who went on quite a ride flipping over Parrish Duncan. Taylor Cole led for the majority of the race with a commanding lead, but in the closing laps Chaz Haskins slowly closed onto Cole to battle for the lead. With just a few laps remaining, Haskins drove to the outside of Cole to take the lead and eventually take home the checkered flag. Unfortunately for Cole, he would once again come up just short of gaining the win.
When it comes to the Charger division, the class gets to celebrate another driver moving up to Sportsman next season. Maverick Davidson captured yet another victory on Friday night giving him the number of victories allowed before moving up to Sportsman. Keeping it close in having one of his best runs this season Parker Marchman took home second with JC Maddox taking home third.
For the last two winners of night one, John Holcomb cruised to an easy victory in the Mini Stock division leading every lap. In the last feature of the night, Randy Phillips started dead last and worked his way throughout the field to steal the victory away from Mike Webb. Phillips and Webb traded positions for a few laps, but Phillips gained the upper hand to claim the victory.
After a solid night one at the Peach State Classic, it will be interesting to see who will take home the biggest purse of $53,053 in Senoia Raceway history. Will it be Bronson claiming back to back, or will it be one of his competitors to take on the win?
Senoia Raceway To Return To Pollard Family Ownership
The Pollard family’s decades-long dream of regaining ownership of Senoia Raceway is set to come true.
Track owner Charlie Edwards, who purchased the 3/8-mile dirt oval from the Pollard family in 1981 after the untimely death of the track’s co-founder Hence Pollard at the age of 52, said this week that he has agreed to sell the facility back to the Pollard family. “I’ve had other people interested in the property, but when Sonny Pollard told me he wanted to buy it back, I told him: ‘It’s yours,’” Edwards said. “We haven’t signed the papers yet, but as far as I’m concerned the track now belongs to the Pollards. And even though I’m 80 years old and not able to do the physical work I once did, I’ve told Sonny I’ll do everything I can to help them be successful in running the race track.”
Sonny Pollard, whose father Hence and David Bishop, built Senoia Raceway in 1969, said he’s pleased to have the opportunity to purchase one of the cornerstones of Georgia short track racing.
“I’ve always wanted to buy it back, but I never thought I’d have the chance,” Pollard said. “I was too young to really learn the business when my parents ran it, but I’ll do what it takes to make it a great place for families to come and enjoy some of the best racing around.” Pollard said he appreciates the efforts over the years of Edwards - and all the other promoters who have run the track since his family operated it - and thankful for the drivers and fans who have supported the track over the years. “They’re all a part of the history of Senoia Raceway, and they’ve all made contributions that have helped it survive for more than 50 years,” he said. Sonny Pollard said that while he’ll miss traveling across the country to support his son Bubba Pollard in his racing ventures, he’s anxious to get to work updating the facility, which is located next door to his residence. “There are a lot of improvements we want to make to improve the experience for fans and drivers,” he said. “Like everything else we do, all of our family will be involved in making Senoia Raceway a real showplace.”