CHICAGO (June 2) â€“ Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas returns to the site of his greatest professional triumph primed and ready to repeat the feat in 2000. It was two years ago at the inaugural Route 66 Nationals when Thomas drove around five-time ...
CHICAGO (June 2) – Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas returns to the site of his greatest professional triumph primed and ready to repeat the feat in 2000. It was two years ago at the inaugural Route 66 Nationals when Thomas drove around five-time Winston champion Warren Johnson in a thrilling final round to take his first professional win.
Now, armed with a newly rebuilt car, one of the best engine programs in the business, and the corporate backing of industry giant Matco Tools, the 47-year-old Knoxville, Tenn., resident is anxious to regain the title of the race.
“I’ve got a real good feeling about this track and this race,” Thomas said. “Obviously we’ve had some good times here in the past but I’m also excited about our program right now. We’ve been to hell and back this season. Now it’s time to head in the other direction.”
After a testing accident totaled his car in late March, Thomas has had to fight through the adversity of captaining several different borrowed cars in order to compete at every national event. But the nine-year pro persevered and now arrives in Chicago with a competitive Jerry Bickel-designed Pontiac Firebird that is completely ready for action.
Thomas has actually driven his new car in the last few events but due to the relentless NHRA schedule didn’t have time to fully test the machine until this week. Now, after several laps in St. Louis with a full crew of technicians and Bickel himself working on the car, Thomas is confidant that his Matco Tools entry is finally ready to handle his award-winning Finish Line Racing Engines horsepower and go some rounds.
“I think we accomplished a lot in St. Louis,” Thomas said. “The track was in terrible shape after the concrete so we couldn’t do much more than work on our launches and 60-foot times. I still feel like we made a bunch of progress. The real test will start later today when we get on the track here at Chicago and make a couple of laps. I’d dearly love to repeat the weekend we had here two years ago.”
ESPN2 will broadcast four hours of the Prestone Route 66 Nationals this weekend. Qualifying highlights will air from 10 p.m.-midnight ET (5-7 p.m. PT) Saturday and same-day elimination round coverage will be broadcast from 5-7 p.m. ET (2-4 p.m. PT) Sunday. A rebroadcast of the elimination rounds will air from 4-6 a.m. ET (1-3 a.m. PT) Tuesday.