Dallas Pennzoil's Thomas Takes Big Step

DALLAS (April 24) -- Prior to Saturday morning's third round of professional qualifying for the Third Annual Lone Star Nationals at the Texas Motorplex the world's fastest driver's were praying for two things to happen. First and foremost, they...

DALLAS (April 24) -- Prior to Saturday morning's third round of professional qualifying for the Third Annual Lone Star Nationals at the Texas Motorplex the world's fastest driver's were praying for two things to happen. First and foremost, they didn't want the thick, dark clouds overhead to empty their contents and cancel the action. But secondly, they didn't want the clouds to blow away until they were able to get a round in under the cooler conditions.

As it turned out, they had both of their wishes granted and the reward was drastically improved times across the board. Team Pennzoil driver Mike Thomas took full advantage of the weather-enhanced setting and ran the second best time of the event in the Pro Stock class. Unfortunately, Thomas' Pennzoil teammates, Eddie Hill and Bruce Allen, were unable to get down the track as each man battled mechanical problems.

Here's a quick look at each driver's Round 3 laps.

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, made the most impressive move of the day in his class by vaulting into the No. 2 spot with a stunning 6.933-second pass at 198.54 mph.

"Car is finally running to its potential," Thomas said. "We need to continue to improve, especially tomorrow, and get involved in the points chase again. We have a contender in this Pennzoil machine and were now searching for a way to win another race.

"I've revamped the crew and we're literally looking better every lap. Adding Rick Hickman as our new crew chief and Gary Rost as our new clutch tech has really made a difference. Plus Ansel Richards, Kyle Beeler and Chad Tigert continue to do a great job for our team."

Eddie Hill, the driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, over-powered the track for the third straight session and had to abort his Round 3 pass. The sub-par showing at this event has left Hill outside of the 16-car field in the 17th spot. His best lap was a twice-pedaled 5.388-second pass at 273.30 mph he struggled to post in Round 2.

"Despite the struggling we've been doing, we finally found a real ray of hope in that last session," Hill said. "We put our old ignition system in the car and it appears to have solved the problems we've had for the last few races. Since Gainesville, we have been tuning to a wildly erratic ignition and we finally just gave up on it and went back to last year's set-up. It worked so well in Round 3 that the car seemed like an animal compared to what it has been.

"We have to put a run together this afternoon and get in the show. It's been a long time (44 races) since we missed an elimination session and I want to keep that streak alive. I firmly believe we can."

Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, blew his engine during his pre-race burnout and had to be pushed off the track. His best pass of the weekend remains the 7.073-second lap at 195.52 mph he ran on Friday evening. Allen has temporarily dropped to the 24th position with one round of qualifying remaining on the schedule.

"We just can't win for losing lately," Allen said. "It seems like whatever can go wrong, does go wrong. We were optimistic after yesterday when it appeared we were moving in the right direction and then this happens. It's disappointing but we can't mope around for long because we still have a decent shot at getting in field later today.

"We're running after the fuel cars tonight so if they get delayed we could be running pretty late. That would definitely help, especially if the weather stays cool and the sun doesn't come out. With all of the crew from the shop and their families here we desperately want to put The Outlaw machine in the show. We've got our work cut out for us."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen