Richmond Mike Thomas towers over Day 1 field

RICHMOND, Va. (April 28) -- Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas drove his Matco Tools/Pennzoil-sponsored Pontiac Firebird straight to the top of the Pro Stock qualifying ladder with an impressive 6.891-second lap at 198.15 mph during Friday's only...

RICHMOND, Va. (April 28) -- Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas drove his Matco Tools/Pennzoil-sponsored Pontiac Firebird straight to the top of the Pro Stock qualifying ladder with an impressive 6.891-second lap at 198.15 mph during Friday's only round of racing action at a rainy Virginia Motorsports Park.

By the end of the day, the pass, which is Thomas' quickest of the season, was good enough to keep the 47-year-old pro from Knoxville, Tenn., in the No. 2 position, just behind top qualifier Kurt Johnson, who posted a 6.876 at 199.49 mph.

"We couldn't be happier," Thomas said. "That was the very first run on the first motor out of our new Finish Line Racing Engines shop in Knoxville. It's extremely satisfying to see the months of research and development pay off like that right out of the box.

"We've had a lot of turmoil this year. In six races I've driven four different cars because of the chassis problems we had at the start of the season and the wreck I had in testing a few weeks ago. Still, the guys kept their focus and managed to build some killer horsepower back at the shop.

"Credit (engine builder and crew chief) Rick Hickman for his countless hours of hard work, even through the tough times, and (crewmen) Gary Rost and Kyle Beeler here at the track. Before we had our car troubles we had spent the off season moving the entire Finish Line Racing Engine operation from Ohio to Tennessee so it's been a long six months. That run sure helps all of us feel better."

Thomas is driving fellow Pro Stocker Kenny Koretsky's Rick Jones-built Firebird for this event as the finishing touches are put on his primary car, which was completely rebuilt and updated to 2000 specifications after Thomas' testing mishap.

The elimination rounds of the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals presented by Chevrolet will be broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) Sunday, April 30 on TNN.

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