Brainerd: Thomas continues fight to right his ship

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 15) -- Matco Tools Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas is admittedly having a tough year in 2000. The perennial contender, who finished a career-high sixth in the Winston championship points standings two year's ago, has struggled...

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 15) -- Matco Tools Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas is admittedly having a tough year in 2000. The perennial contender, who finished a career-high sixth in the Winston championship points standings two year's ago, has struggled this season after suffering a rare testing accident near the beginning of the year. The wreck, coupled with some untimely changes on tap for his class, have spelled doom so far for the 47-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn.

Still, the lifelong drag racer has taken the lumps of his downtime and remains ever-hopeful of a turnaround, even though he knows he's saddled with a questionable car for the rest of the year. Heading into this weekend's 19th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, Thomas hopes to salvage what he can of the NHRA's millenium season.

"We're optimistic about Brainerd and the rest of the year," said Thomas. "I think we'll run well. We've gone through this car, once again, inch-by-inch and everything appears to be in great condition. We'll just get back on the track and see what happens.

"The wreck had such a ripple effect on this team. Originally, we thought we could straighten the car and replace all the wires that burned and we'd be okay. As it turns out, the damage was much more extensive then we thought. Any other season we would have scrapped this car and bought a new one, but we tried to keep this one together in hopes that we could get through the year in a competitive fashion."

Thomas decided not to purchase a new car because he and the rest of the class face a mandatory switch to new body styles in 2001. Firebirds will be replaced by Grand Ams, Avengers will be turned in for Neons, and Camaros packed up in favor of Cavaliers.

"If we had known at the time of the accident that this car would be so hard to figure out we would have bought a new car immediately," Thomas said. "But everyone we talked to said it could be fixed. The problem is that when the entire field is separated by a few hundredths of a second, it doesn't take much to seem like you're way off the mark.

"I will continue the fight. We owe it to our sponsors, Matco Tools and Pennzoil, and we owe it to ourselves. There is no quit in this team."

Same-day television coverage of the 19th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories National's elimination rounds will air from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT), Sunday, Aug. 20, on TNN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas