Qualifying wreck still haunting Thomas DALLAS (Oct. 18) - Many more rounds of extensive testing over the past several days has Pennzoil Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas and crew hopeful that they have reversed the trend the usually competitive team...
Qualifying wreck still haunting Thomas
DALLAS (Oct. 18) - Many more rounds of extensive testing over the past several days has Pennzoil Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas and crew hopeful that they have reversed the trend the usually competitive team has fallen into over the last four events. They'll find out soon enough as the 20th event of the NHRA season, the O'Reilly Fall Nationals, begins this Thursday and continues through Sunday at the Texas Motorplex.
It was a freak accident during qualifying for the Indy event in early September when trouble first descended on the team. As Thomas finished a lap and released the parachute it became entangled in his wheelie bar before deploying. The subsequent off-center pull of the 'chute forced Thomas into the retaining wall. Since then they have struggled to return the car to its championship-caliber set-up and have registered three first-round losses and a rare DNQ (did-not-qualify) finish.
"It still seems like there are two or three things that need fixing," Thomas said. "You get one thing back the way you like it and then realize something else is totally off. The wreck really set us back. In all my years of racing I'd never wrecked a car. It really caught us off guard. You just don't realize how tough it is to overcome until it happens.
"What's hard to swallow is that we've always hauled around a back-up car and, knowing we had a brand new car coming in a few months, I sold it just a few weeks before the wreck. Looking back now I wish I had waited but it was one of those deals where you had a buyer that needed it now and we took a chance and sold it to him."
Thomas spent last weekend running exhibition laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, the best of which was a 7.12-second pass.
"We didn't set the world on fire there but every lap we make takes us closer to where we need to be," Thomas said. "We're learning more every time we go down the track. Before we get to Dallas (crew chief) Rick Hickman and I are going to go over this entire car piece by piece and make sure we haven't forgotten anything.
"I'd really love to tell you that we're back at 100 percent but I don't know if we are just yet. It's disappointing to have a great engine program that shows you time and again we have some of the best power out there and to be suffering through these problems. But that's racing, everyone goes through periods like this and we're no exception.
"In the long run we'll be a better team because of this. There is certainly no lack of effort by the crew and everyone is working overtime to get us through this down time. We'll be back challenging for the title gain very soon. There is no quit in this team."
Thomas is currently 13th in the Winston championship points standings, 88 points (or roughly four and a half rounds) out of the top 10.