Houston Team Thomas Earns Elimination Round Berth

HOUSTON (April 15) -- The troubles that have plagued Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas for most of the season appear to be behind the affable 47-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn. For the first time in 2000, Thomas will participate in Sunday's race action...

HOUSTON (April 15) -- The troubles that have plagued Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas for most of the season appear to be behind the affable 47-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn. For the first time in 2000, Thomas will participate in Sunday's race action after earning the 15th qualifying spot in the extremely quick field of the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park.

Driving fellow competitor Richie Stevens' back-up car, Thomas took his sponsors Matco Tools and Pennzoil through a 6.929-second pass at 197.77 mph to finish the qualifying session in the No. 15 position. He will now open Sunday's elimination rounds against points leader Jeg Coughlin, who qualified second at 6.889 seconds and 199.26 mph.

"We'll have to be good tomorrow to beat Jeg or to beat anyone else for that matter," Thomas said. "But it's sure not out of reach. From top to bottom, the field is pretty tight which means races can be won or lost at the starting line. I'm nice and fresh so I'm ready to get after it and see what happens.

"It's great to finally qualify. I'm happy for the crew and for our sponsors, Matco Tools and Pennzoil, who have stuck by me through the down times. I've always known we have the horsepower to run with anyone out there, we just haven't had any luck with the cars I've been driving until now."

The elimination rounds of the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil will be broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) Sunday, April 16 on TNN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin