Reading: Strong outing buoys Thomas, Team Matco

READING, Pa. (Sept. 17) – Matco Tools Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas broke a five-race streak of misfortune at the 16th annual Keystone Nationals by successfully qualifying his eye-catching machine in the second quickest field ever assembled. But...

READING, Pa. (Sept. 17) – Matco Tools Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas broke a five-race streak of misfortune at the 16th annual Keystone Nationals by successfully qualifying his eye-catching machine in the second quickest field ever assembled. But his good fortune ran out in the first round of eliminations today when current Winston points leader Jeg Coughlin defeated him by five-hundredths of a second.

Thomas posted an impressive 6.884-second lap at 199.26 mph to earn the No. 10 position in the super-quick field, which spanned from 6.846 to 6.915 seconds. He had another solid lap in Round 1 today when he posted a 6.939 at 199.61 mph under slightly hotter conditions. However, Coughlin went a little bit quicker and won the round with a 6.886-second pass at 198.64 mph.

“It spun the tires like crazy at the line and that got us,” Thomas said. “It sure didn’t help that the fuel cars took two hours to get through that first round because it definitely heated up the track quite a bit.

“This is still a great weekend for us. We haven’t raced like this since Bristol in early July so we’re revved up about getting back on track and racing on Sunday. We ran great elapsed times and big mph all weekend so we’re finally proving what we’ve been saying all along – that we are making a tremendous amount of horsepower.

“We’ll have this car totally ready to go by the time we get to Topeka (Kan.) in two weeks. We’re over the big problems and once we fine-tune our 60-foot times we’ll be in contention at every race. I’m proud of the guys on this Matco team and I’m thankful to all of my sponsors for hanging in there with us after our accident earlier this year. It’s time to start paying them back for their support.”

The elimination rounds of the 16th annual Keystone Nationals will air today from 9:30-11:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN2.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin