Atlanta Thunder notebook week seven

HAMPTON, GA -- Just like NASCAR's Shawna Robinson and the Indy Racing League's Sarah Fisher, the women who race at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder aren't carrying the flag for other female drivers. They aren't trying to champion a cause...

HAMPTON, GA -- Just like NASCAR's Shawna Robinson and the Indy Racing League's Sarah Fisher, the women who race at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder aren't carrying the flag for other female drivers. They aren't trying to champion a cause or open doors. They just want to race.

"I don't want special treatment because I'm a girl," said 15-year-old Michelle Theriault. "I want the same thing everyone else has out there. I want to win."

And win they have this season. Theriault and Canton's Cindy Anderson have each won two races this year, becoming the first women to win in the four-year-old series. Fayetteville's Bre Sharp and Griffin's Heather Wittenburg haven't recorded wins yet, but they have also been out banging wheels with the guys this season.

"I've only been driving for a couple months," said Sharp, who recorded a fourth-place finish already this season. "But I think we're doing good. It's fun."

It's been especially fun for Anderson, who started the chain reaction of women winning by racing to Victory Lane in the first week of the season. After almost a year away from racing, she returned to the track feeling rusty but looking dominant.

"It's been a great season so far," Anderson said. "I always knew I could win one, and I'd been so close before. Now I've done it."

Anderson, 36, began racing Legends three years ago after watching Thursday Thunder. She said she sat in the stands thinking, "I know I can do that."

"But it's different sitting down here on the track," Anderson said with a laugh. "In my first race, I tangled with the leader and took us both out. In my next race, I pulled it in and parked it. My guys asked what was wrong, and I said nothing. I just wanted to regroup and start over. After that, we were fine."

Anderson said she also made a point to tell her competitors early on that she did not want or expect any special treatment as a woman. Since then, she says her gender has rarely come up.

Same goes for Theriault, who added, "When the helmet is on, everyone is equal on the track."

WIN TONY STEWART: OK, so you can't really win Tony Stewart. But you can win a hat autographed by him or one of his fellow Winston Cup racers this week just by dressing as your favorite driver.

The best-dressed fans -- based on originality, likeness to the driver and most involved costume -- will win merchandise autographed by their favorite drivers and other great prizes.

-AMS

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Series Stock car
Drivers Tony Stewart , Shawna Robinson , Sarah Fisher , Michelle Theriault