DENVER (July 16) -- A lengthy test session at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains has prepared Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas for another high-altitude track -- Denver's historic Bandimere Speedway, site of this weekend's 22nd annual...
DENVER (July 16) -- A lengthy test session at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains has prepared Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas for another high-altitude track -- Denver's historic Bandimere Speedway, site of this weekend's 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Thomas, 10-year NHRA veteran from Knoxville, Tenn., is hoping the data he gained on one mountain range will translate to success on another.
"We found a lot of things that I think will really help us," Thomas said. "It wouldn't surprise me to qualify well in Denver and go some rounds. If we can do that then we'll be right back on track. The Western Swing (successive races in Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma, Calif.) might be the perfect place to turn everything around.
"Bristol and Denver both require different tune-ups because of the altitude. These motors need oxygen and it's in short supply when you're a mile up in the mountains. Bristol isn't nearly as high as Denver but the combinations we worked on should translate pretty well. We're excited about the potential of this race team."
Thomas has struggled mightily this year as he has fought to overcome a drastic change of equipment -- switching from a Chevrolet Camaro to a Pontiac Grand Am -- and a preseason testing accident that sent his primary car back to the manufacturer. But with a new Don Ness chassis and one of his always-powerful Finish Line Racing Engines under the hood, the quest for bigger and better things to come continues unabated.
"Every driver on the circuit struggles at times," the 48-year-old Thomas said. "We've seen every team look totally lost at various points this year and we've been no exception. But this is what we do and the desire to find the perfect set-up and win races is still what pushes us, even when you feel like you're at rock bottom.
"Denver is a favorite spot of mine because it's where I met my wife (Hope) and her family still lives there. It's a second home for us and you always tend to try harder when you have family and friends around. We've definitely feel like we've put in our time this season; now it's time to reap some of the rewards."
ESPN 2 will broadcast several hours of the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Highlights of the qualifying rounds will air from 6-8 p.m. ET, Saturday. The elimination rounds will air from 5-8 p.m. ET, Sunday, with a rebroadcast from 3-5 a.m. ET, Friday, July 27.