Reading: Thomas turns quick lap, takes tenth sport

READING, Pa. (Sept. 16) -- Cool temperatures at Maple Grove Raceway translated to quick times on the scoreboard Saturday as qualifying for the 16th annual Keystone Nationals concluded with two exceptionally quick sessions. Matco Tools-sponsored...

READING, Pa. (Sept. 16) -- Cool temperatures at Maple Grove Raceway translated to quick times on the scoreboard Saturday as qualifying for the 16th annual Keystone Nationals concluded with two exceptionally quick sessions.

Matco Tools-sponsored driver Mike Thomas jumped at the chance to showcase his impressive Finish Line Racing Engine horsepower and the veteran driver from Tennessee finished the day in the No. 10 position on the race day ladder.

Thomas, 47, used the day's final round to record an exceptional quarter-mile pass of 6.884 seconds at 199.26 mph. The lap sets up a first-round showdown with No. 7 qualifier and current points leader Jeg Coughlin, who grabbed his position in the field with a 6.875-second pass at 200.08 mph.

"It feels great to be racing on Sunday again," Thomas said. "We've had a struggle this year but our new crew chief Tim Freeman and crewman Jody Hickman, along with our engine builder Rick Hickman have worked miracles with this Matco Tools car. They have killed themselves over the last few weeks getting this car straightened out and it's nice to see their hard work pay off like this. I'm very proud of this team.

"We always knew we had the horsepower we've just had a tough time getting it onto the track. I hope this weekend is the start of another long and successful run. I know everyone on this crew is on a high note right now. We've all been pouring our hearts and souls into this program to get us back on track. I predict big things ahead for us."

Same-day television coverage of the 16th annual Keystone Nationals will air tomorrow from 9:30-11:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN2.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Tim Freeman