Richmond; Step forward pleases Mike Thomas

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30) -- The positive progression of Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas' program continued this weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park during the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals presented by Chevrolet. Debuting the next generation ...

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30) -- The positive progression of Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas' program continued this weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park during the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals presented by Chevrolet. Debuting the next generation powerplant from his Finish Line Racing Engine shop, Thomas shot out to the No. 2 qualifying position Friday and successfully held on to a spot in the quickest field ever assembled before losing in Round 1 on Sunday when his Matco Tools/Pennzoil car overpowered the track.

Thomas, who took the 12th spot with a 6.891-second pass at 198.15 mph, was lined up against rookie Jamie Yates in Round 1. Racing out of the right lane, Thomas launched hard but quickly began to spin his tires, forcing the car out of the groove and towards the retaining wall. Although he stayed on the accelerator, the severe tire spin allowed Yates to drive away for the win. The final numbers had Yates crossing the timers in 6.879 seconds at 199.08 mph in front of Thomas' 7.003-second lap at 196.87 mph.

"We missed the clutch setting," Thomas said. "As soon as I dumped the clutch she completely blew the tires off the track. That pushed us out towards the wall and I had to steer hard to get back in the groove. I stayed in it hoping Jamie would break loose when he hit the bumps in that left lane. But he ran right over them and took the win.

"This was still a great weekend for us. To have the first engine out of our new shop in Knoxville perform so well is a real credit to our team. It's hard to be too upset when you lose a race because you have too much horsepower. It's just a matter of getting the clutch to match it. We'll be good to go in Atlanta.

After driving Kenny Koretsky's back-up car at this race and Richie Stevens' machine in Houston and Las Vegas, Thomas will finally be back in his primary Matco Tools/Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird in Atlanta. The car was damaged during a testing accident and has since been rebuilt to 2000 specifications by fabricator Jerry Bickel.

"Once we get our car and our horsepower together, we'll be in great shape," said Thomas, a 47-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn. "I've been in so many different cars this year it'll be good to finally get back in my own piece.

"We got some attention for our sponsors this weekend. Now I want to put them and my new car in the Winner's Circle. It's time."

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

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Jamie Yates , Kenny Koretsky