Slate finishes second in Thursday Thunder points By Justin Hubbard

Hudson Halder (front) followed by Rafe Slate drives out of a turn onto the backstretch. The duo paced the field during last week’s Thursday Thunder Semi-Pro division race.

Rafe Slate drove his car the best he could last Saturday during the finale Thursday Thunder race of 2017, but he was unable to match Hudson Halder and finished second in the race and the series standings. Slate, who lives in Eatonton, entered the finale third in the points and 30 points behind the leader, Christopher Clanton. His second place finish Saturday only moved him up to 25 points back, but he did earn the second spot in the standings as he and Halder both leapfrogged Clanton. “I was going to wait until near the end to make a move and try to get up to his bumper and try and win that race,” Slate said. “We definitely had a shot at it if it hadn't been called short.” Because Thursday Thunder officials struggled to reset the order of the field during one of the race’s cautions, the Semi-Pro division race reached its 15-minute time limit before its 25-lap maximum. Therefore, Slate’s race ended only 12 laps in. Slate said there was not much communication between the officials and drivers, which meant the ending of Saturday’s race was especially abrupt. “They just made us pace around, we hit our time limit, then they called it,” he said. The lack of notice about the time limit approaching threw a wrench in Slate’s plans to wait around until the end. Still, Slate said he was content to at least take home the second place finish. “Obviously, I wanted to be first,” Slate said. “But second was the best I could do without the leader taking himself out, so I feel pretty good about that. I feel like I went out there and did as best as I could, except for the win, and I didn't have much of a chance to get (the championship) because they didn't tell us our time was up until we were already green and well underway in that last segment.” Halder and Slate, who started first and second, respectively, paced the field for the entirety of the race. Slate said he was happy to see he could keep up with Halder despite one slip-up. “I was really fast and able to keep up with [Halder] most of the time,” Slate said. “He really only pulled away from me on one restart there; that was when I had my tires real cold on the restart and wasn't warming them up. That was the only restart where he was head and shoulders over me, so I felt pretty good about that.” Thursday Thunder, which is hosted every year at Atlanta Motor Speedway, is over, but Slate’s year isn’t. He has more races coming up soon at AMS and the Watermelon Capital Speedway, located in Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele. Slate said he also hopes to venture outside the state as 2017 draws to a close. “We haven't officially scheduled any races (outside Georgia),” he said. “We're still looking for sponsors for Las Vegas, so any support is appreciated there because that's going to be a really expensive trip. ... We've got a race in Cordele coming up and a few more in Atlanta.” 

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