Thomas ready to defend Pro Stock crown Teammate Hill logs another successful qualifying session and braces for Race Day CHICAGO (June 5) -- Defending Pro Stock champion Mike Thomas and legendary Top Fuel driver Eddie Hill will proudly carry the...
Thomas ready to defend Pro Stock crown Teammate Hill logs another successful qualifying session and braces for Race Day
CHICAGO (June 5) -- Defending Pro Stock champion Mike Thomas and legendary Top Fuel driver Eddie Hill will proudly carry the Pennzoil banner into Sunday's elimination drag racing action at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. The two men will each join 15 of their racing peers in a head-to-head, sudden-death showdown with the championship of the Second Annual Fram Nationals on the line.
The following information explains how each driver reached their goal of racing on Sunday.
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird and defending champion of the event, ran a very competitive lap of 7.035 seconds at 196.07 mph in the final session but couldn't better his previously posted 7.024-second, 196.36-mph pass. Thomas held on to the 14th qualifying spot, which raises his total of elimination round appearances this season to seven.
"We couldn't be more excited," Thomas said. "It appears we have solved the problem we encountered yesterday that slowed us down a little. It was an electrical bug and we have fixed the problem completely. The last lap is proof of that. We were the third quickest car in the session and ran just as smooth as can be down the strip. It's real nice to run well in the final session. It allows you to rest easy the night before Race Day knowing your car is fast."
Thomas will open the elimination rounds against one of his engine customers - Mike Edwards, who will have lane choice due to his superior 6.985-second, 197.05-mph qualifying effort. This race will mark their first head-to-head battle of the year.
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, managed a 4.735-second lap at 302.21 mph in the final qualifying round, which was one of the quickest passes of the session. Still, Hill's best run of the weekend was the 4.619-second, 305.98-mph lap he ran in Round 2 and he'll use that pass to solidify the No. 7 spot in the qualifying field. The finish marks the sixth time this year that the famous Texan has started Sunday's action out of the top half of the qualifying field.
"We're very proud of the way we've been able to adjust this Pennzoil car to all of the varying conditions we've encountered this year," Hill said. "Obviously, this track got to be tricky today but we found a way to get this car down in 4.73 seconds at 300-plus mph. That put a big ol' smile on my face because the run gave us enough info to really be prepared for tomorrow. From everything I hear the weather will be exactly the same then and I now feel like we know precisely what we can and cannot do with this car on this track."
On Race Day, Hill's first round opponent will be Bob Vandergriff, who drove into the No. 10 spot with a 4.633-second, 314.83-mph pass in Round 4. Due to his slower qualifying time Vandergriff will forfeit lane choice to Hill. The two men have raced each other twice this year with each driver taking one win.
Bruce Allen, the pilot of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, completed his race weekend with a 7.087-second pass at 194.94 mph in Round 4. Allen's top run saw him cover the strip in 7.046 seconds at 195.96 mph, which was 0.014 of a second slower than the time needed for the 16th and final qualifying spot. The Arlington, Texas resident finished in 19th place out of 33 cars.
"Unfortunately this ended up being one of those races where everybody qualified in one session (Friday night) and that was the one time where we missed the set-up," Allen said. "It's too bad because, relative to the field in all the other rounds, we were actually the ninth or 10th quickest car here. But that's racing. We weren't on when we needed to be.
"What happened here is that we were coming off back-to-back races where we qualified for the elimination rounds but were on the bottom half of the field. We weren't satisfied with that so we spent a lot of time testing over the last two weeks trying to make this car quick enough to really contend. We thought we had found some things and we tried them here but they just didn't work as well as we had hoped.
"We certainly won't quit trying. We've got just a few days to get ready for the race in Columbus (Ohio) and I hope we'll be ready to go there."
Allen has qualified for three elimination sessions this year and has a 1-3 record on Race Day. Entering this event, the 49-year-old was in 19th place in the Winston points standings.