Bristol: Thomas pounds his way into Showdown field

BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 7) -- Tennessean Mike Thomas drove his Matco Tools Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird into the provisional field of the $50,000 Winston "No Bull" Showdown Friday with a 7.107-second pass at 193.99 mph. The run was the 11th quickest...

BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 7) -- Tennessean Mike Thomas drove his Matco Tools Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird into the provisional field of the $50,000 Winston "No Bull" Showdown Friday with a 7.107-second pass at 193.99 mph. The run was the 11th quickest of the day and temporarily earned the 47-year-old Knoxville resident one of the six at-large berths on the elimination day ladder.

"We're running pretty decent right now and we're in," Thomas said. "It's pretty hard to complain. But there are still two more rounds of qualifying tomorrow and I'd like to think we could move up a few spots and maybe get lane choice for Sunday.

"I believe there is a lot more e.t. in the car. We drove through the clutch a little, which tells me there is something left on the table. We'll try to tune it closer tomorrow and we'll see what happens. I expect the final session will be good. It's in the evening and the fuel guys run ahead of us so there might be some delays. If it stretches out long enough we could have identical conditions to what we had tonight."

Thomas is battling for an at-large spot because he is not one of the 10 pre-qualified drivers that received automatic spots in Sunday's field. Only the most recent Winston champ and the last nine national event winners are pre-qualified. Until recently, Thomas did have a berth courtesy of his Chicago 1998 win, but he was bumped out in the last few weeks when V. Gaines and Ron Krisher recorded their first career wins.

"We're in pretty solidly right now," Thomas said. "A bunch of guys would have to run better to knock us out. But the way we've been snake-bit this year I'm not going to make any predictions. We'll just run this Matco Tools car to the limit and not worry about what everyone else is doing."

Qualifying highlights for the second annual Winston "No Bull" Showdown will air from 10 p.m. to midnight (ET), Saturday, on ESPN2. The elimination rounds will be shown from 9:30-11:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, also on ESPN2.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Ron Krisher