Test session invigorates Thomas BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pennzoil Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas was thrilled with the results of his first test session of the preseason, which took place over a four-day stretch this week at Desoto Dragway. Using ...
Test session invigorates Thomas
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pennzoil Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas was thrilled with the results of his first test session of the preseason, which took place over a four-day stretch this week at Desoto Dragway. Using the newly mandated five-speed standard shifter, Thomas recorded 15 laps in the six-second range, the best of which was a encouraging 6.910-second blast at 199 mph.
"This entire test could not have gone better," Thomas said. "We arrived here Monday with a new car, an entirely new crew and the new shifter mechanism and I didn't quite know what to expect. We all got to work and everything came together very quickly. We ran some great, consistent times despite having to deal with a corrected altitude of 2,500 feet. I think that says a lot about the power of our engines. I can't wait to match-up with everyone else in Houston (at the Pro Stock Superbowl Challenge on Jan. 30.)"
Thomas, a 46-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn., expected success with his car. After all, he has driven Jerry Bickel machines throughout his career. Additionally, his prior experience and success in the Super Stock bracket, where he set three national records and collected 15 event titles, also had him confident about his ability to use a standard shifter. The real unknown was the crew.
The off-season saw a complete retooling of the Mike Thomas Racing staff. Former crew chief Jim Hayter reunites with Thomas after a three-year absence to captain a new group of wrench-turners that includes Ed Pickle, Kyle Beeler and IHRA Funny Car crew chief Rick Hickman, who joins the team as a consultant. "Everyone worked extremely well together and the attitude was very positive," Thomas said. "I think everyone saw first hand that we have the power to win a lot of races and that's got them fired up."
The only thing unchanged from last year's effort, which garnered Thomas a career-high sixth-place finish in the Winston championship points standings, is the powerplants themselves. Renowned engine builders Jim Oliver and Tom Roberts continue to build Thomas' extremely fast Finish Line Racing Engines at their shop in Norwalk, Ohio, and the group once again plans on leasing engines to fellow Pro Stock drivers Richie "The Kid" Stevens, Shawn Collins and Ron Krisher. Last year Finish Line products helped three drivers finish in the top 10 of the points standings, drove three different men to four national event victories and assisted in 61 elimination round wins.
"It appears that everything is falling into place," Thomas said. "Last year was a career year for us. I'd like to be able to say that again after this season."