COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 17) -- It appears the tide has finally shifted for Matco Tools Pro Stock pilot Mike Thomas. The 47-year-old professional from Knoxville, Tenn., successfully qualified his Pontiac Firebird in the 15th spot of the 36th annual...
COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 17) -- It appears the tide has finally shifted for Matco Tools Pro Stock pilot Mike Thomas. The 47-year-old professional from Knoxville, Tenn., successfully qualified his Pontiac Firebird in the 15th spot of the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway with a steady 7.010-second pass at 196.10 mph.
Following the same trend as the rest of the crowded field, Thomas made his best qualifying run in Saturday's final session, which was delayed until late in the afternoon by intermittent rain. In fact, the session took so long to complete that the elapsed times got progressively quicker as the round continued. Although he was near the front of the pack, Thomas' pass remained good enough to keep him in the field.
"We're getting a lot closer to where we need to be with this car," Thomas said. "It feels good to be racing on Sunday. We've had a bad stretch of luck recently but I hope that qualifying for this race pulls us out of it.
"It's very satisfying to finally do well. Everyone on this Matco Tools team has worked extremely hard at putting us back in contention. I know we're not there yet but at least we're moving in the right direction."
Thomas will open Sunday's action against Ron Krisher, who won the last event in Chicago. Krisher will have lane choice due to his quicker 6.959-second, 197.42-mph qualifying effort.
"Ron's been running well lately," Thomas said. "But the field is close from top to bottom so I feel like we have a fairly good chance of advancing. If we're lucky enough to get past the first round we could get on a roll and win this thing. We sure won't be holding anything back."
ESPN2 will broadcast same-day race coverage of this event with first-round action from 1:30-2:30pm (ET) and semifinal and final-round action from 5-7 p.m. (ET). A rebroadcast of the elimination rounds will air later tomorrow from 9:30-11:30 p.m. (ET) and again from 2:30-3:30 a.m. (ET) on Friday, June 23.