HAMPTON, Ga. — Audio and recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Evan Posocco/iRacing.com photo —
Sometimes its better to be lucky than good.
Thomas George found that out firsthand during Monday night’s =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series Peach State 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, when he slid by a crashing Greg Evans and Stefan Marinak to take the lead with ten laps remaining — never giving the top spot up the rest of the way and holding off a spirited charge by Nick Silver to claim his first career win at AMS in Full Throttle Cup Series competition.
The win was George’s third career FTCS triumph and he becomes part of an exclusive =RSR= club to have notched a victory on a road course, short track and speedway over the course of his Full Throttle career.
“I’ll be honest, I hadn’t felt well the last couple of days — either food poisoning or a cold — but a win makes up for a lot of that,” George said in Gatorade Victory Lane. “I didn’t want that crash there, that was my teammate Greg Evans and I feel bad that he was the one that basically parted the seas for us, but I guess now I owe him one. We’ll just have to go make it happen at Talladega or something.”
“I was just trying to save my tires there because I knew if it went green I’d be good to go. That’s what I had been doing the whole race and when we had that long green flag run I was catching Brian (Macklin) before we had a yellow come out, so I knew we had the speed. At Atlanta, you’ve got to make your moves when you can — we did that and it paid off tonight.”
As George sprinted by to take the win, Evans and Marinak were left wondering what could have been — both drivers dejected after coming so close to a Full Throttle Cup Series checkered flag.
“We were just riding — I knew I was faster than (Marinak) but I didn’t think I was faster than Thomas — so I knew I had to make a move quick,” Evans said of the final laps. “I got underneath him and we were side drafting down the frontstretch, but when we got to turn one I don’t know if I came up or he came down. It looked like there was plenty of room between us so maybe it was the net code that got us, which you hate to go out that way, but there was nothing I could do when his car kicked out and got me. It sucks.”
“We were racing hard — I’ve been told by a few people it was net code — but from my seat he came right up into me,” Marinak said, offering a different view on the crash. “Side-swiped me, got me loose going into turn one and when we got there I ended up coming down into him and we both got into the wall. It sucks, because I was giving him plenty of room and was going to be happy with whatever good finish we got but it wasnt meant to be tonight. I’m trying to get into the top 30 (in points) and nights like tonight don’t help at all.”
After the dust cleared, Nick Silver hung on for second with Prestige Worldwide teammate Sean Casto finishing third. Bobby Terrell, subbing for L. Bryce Whitson Jr., came home fourth and Johnathon Caddell rounded out the top five.
The complexion of the race changed at lap 102 — when Marinak and Brian Macklin restarted on the front row and both spun their tires at the drop of the green flag. Macklin’s car lurched down into Marinak’s and then spun across the track in front of the field, sparking a massive crash at the start finish line that collected 18 cars in some form in its wake.
Among those caught up in the “Big One” — Shawn Breitzman, Jimmie North, Jason Lester, defending champion Eric Brundies and polesitter Adam Benefiel, who led four laps at the start of the event but slid back to 10th before lap 20 and was never a factor for the lead again before being collected in the incident.
Two additional incidents occurred on lap 45 that altered the complexion of the event — one on the frontstretch after an accordion-style stack-up that saw Benefiel and Nathan Little go spinning through the infield grass, and a second follow-up incident that saw Garrett Atwell and Kevin Linden go for a slide at the entrance of turn one — though shockingly neither crash drew a caution flag.
In all the race featured 10 lead changes among 10 different drivers and was slowed five times by caution for 19 laps.
With their victories in the first two races of the season, Rich Jette and Thomas George occupy the top two spots in the points standings and the Chase Grid — with Jette holding a six point advantage leaving Atlanta.
The =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series returns to action on Monday, March 9 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the running of the Sin City 200 (9:30 p.m. Eastern on LSRTV).
Audio with race winner Thomas George:
Audio with runner-up Nick Silver:
Audio with 3rd-place Sean Casto:
Audio post-race with Greg Evans:
Audio post-race with Stefan Marinak:
RESULTS: =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series; Peach State 200; Atlanta Motor Speedway; March 2, 2015
- Thomas George
- Nick Silver
- Sean Casto
- Bobby Terrell (sub for L. Bryce Whitson Jr.)
- Johnathon Caddell
- Chad Cole
- Rich Jette
- Steve Ritter
- Glenn Campbell
- John Abbott
- Mitch Rollo
- Brandon Peterson
- Jeff Ward
- Brennan Mercer
- Rett McBride
- Matt LaCross
- Brian Macklin
- Dan Murray
- Dwayne Vincent
- David Comstock
- Nathan Little
- Kevin Linden
- L.D. Sarabia
- Doug Roth
- David Lanza
- Ronnie Potts
- Greg Evans
- Garrett Atwell
- C.J. LaVair
- Scott Simley
- Mark Bratcher
- Stefan Marinak
- Corbin Himstreet
- Steve Gottschalk
- Chad Coleman (sub for Joey Gattina)
- Eric Brundies
- Jason Lester
- Adam Benefiel
- Jimmie North
- Shawn Breitzman
- Scott Stenzel
- Bryan Harvey
- Keith Brooks Jr.