PHOENIX (Feb. 26) -- The final day of professional qualifying at the 16th annual Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway was Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas' best of the weekend. Unfortunately, his dramatically increased...
PHOENIX (Feb. 26) -- The final day of professional qualifying at the 16th annual Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway was Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas' best of the weekend. Unfortunately, his dramatically increased performance wasn't enough to earn him a spot in the competitive 16-car field.
Thomas improved during each lap, finally recording a 7.005-second blast at 197.16 mph in the fourth and final round. But the elapsed time still left him 0.049 of a second short and leaves him off the Race Day roster.
"We're definitely closing in on the setup for this new car but we're obviously not there yet," Thomas said. "We're going to run this thing until the wheels fall off in testing between now and the next race in Gainesville. We have to get this car back in the field and back in the hunt for the Winston championship.
"We're making way too much horsepower to not be in the top half of the field at every race. I know you can't be perfect, but we should be better then we are right now. Growing pains with a new car are hard to take some times."
The Knoxville, Tenn. resident was brimming with confidence after his Round 3 pass of 7.012 seconds at 198.29 mph, as it was his first full lap under power of the weekend. Although the time was off the pace needed to qualify, Thomas and crew felt they were close to finally finding the right set-up for their new machine.
"We brought out a brand new Jerry Haas car here and it's taken us a few laps to get it working properly with the new clutch assemblies we have," Thomas said. "We were considerably short on clutch that lap and we still ran 198 mph. That's very encouraging. This Haas car is aerodynamically superior to anything we've had in the past. Once we get it totally dialed in we should be good."
First round coverage airs Sunday from 4-6 p.m. on Speedvision and final round action will air later that evening on Fox Sports Net from midnight-2 a.m. Speedvision will then rebroadcast final round coverage from 8-10 p.m. Monday. (All times listed are Eastern.)