Bristol suits Thomas to a Tennessee T

BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 4) – Local hero Mike Thomas is anxious to return to his home track of Bristol Dragway and claim the $50,000 top prize up for grabs during this weekend’s second annual Winston “No Bull” Showdown. The popular Pro Stock...

BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 4) – Local hero Mike Thomas is anxious to return to his home track of Bristol Dragway and claim the $50,000 top prize up for grabs during this weekend’s second annual Winston “No Bull” Showdown. The popular Pro Stock driver, who hails from nearby Knoxville, had the full support of the Thunder Valley faithful last year when he competed with a huge University of Tennessee “T” logo on the roof of his Pontiac Firebird. Now he hopes to add a Bristol “V” – as in Victory – to his Matco Tools machine.

“I love racing at Bristol,” Thomas said. “It’s a track we’re very familiar with and I love the support we get from all of our Tennessee friends. We’re going to pull out that big ol’ orange ‘T’ we had last year on the roof and see if it will bring us some national championship luck.

“We just completed a couple of days of testing at the track and now this Matco Tools car is running strong. We’ve been making good power all year but have had trouble setting up the car. We discovered some things in the suspension system with the pinion angles and have since corrected the problem. I’m pretty confident we can earn a qualifying spot and once we do that we have as good a chance as anyone of winning the $50,000.”

The Showdown, which also pits 24 Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars against one another in a winner-take-all $200,000 shootout, is a non-points event that marks the midway point of the 23-event NHRA season. As such, Thomas is hoping to close the book on a tumultuous first half -- that included a testing accident, which forced him to compete in five different racecars -- and start a new championship charge in the second half.

“We all got together in Bristol and decided to put the past behind us and have a fresh start,” said Thomas, who is currently in 20th place in the points. “I think you’ll see this car winning rounds at every race and we’ll start charging up the standings. Our goal is to finish in the top 10 and we all believe we have a real good shot at accomplishing that goal. We’ve had our summer break, now we’re fired up and ready to start fresh.”

Thomas, 47, will be vying for one of the six at-large spots available in the 16-car field. The nine most recent national event winners and last year’s series champion are already pre-qualified for the race. All 16 cars will have to earn their race day starting position during qualifying regardless of if they were pre-qualified or not. A regular Sunday field will be set.

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