Bristol Tennesse Fans Embrace Pennzoil Car

Tennessee fans embrace Pennzoil car BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 8) -- The fans flooding into Bristol Dragway for the Inaugural Winston Showdown embraced Knoxville resident Mike Thomas with open arms and loud hoots of approval during Thursday's opening...

Tennessee fans embrace Pennzoil car

BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 8) -- The fans flooding into Bristol Dragway for the Inaugural Winston Showdown embraced Knoxville resident Mike Thomas with open arms and loud hoots of approval during Thursday's opening two sessions of professional qualifying.

Thomas, who captains the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, earned some of the crowd's adulation with his performance on the track. So far he has run quick enough to grab the No. 9 spot in the 24-car field with an evening pass of 7.107 seconds at 193.46 mph. But the real noise that echoed through Thunder Valley when Thomas took to the track came courtesy of the giant University of Tennessee "T" on the roof of his car.

"The fans have really gone crazy over this," Thomas said about his personal salute to the National Champion Volunteer Football program. "Everyone's stopping by my pit and telling me that the luck of the team is going to carry me to a win this weekend. That would be awesome. I might never take that 'T' off.

"We're pretty pleased with the car. Over the last few races we've struggled in low gear and I think we've found some of the problems that have been causing that to happen. The nice thing about being pre-qualified for (Saturday's) elimination rounds is that we can work on things like this that ultimately will make us go faster.

"Tomorrow will be big for us. We should have the car in top shape by then and I fully expect us to move up to the top of the field. This car has the power to be one of the quickest, if not the quickest car out here. We just need to get all the pieces in place."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas