Richmond; a happy place for Mike Thomas

RICHMOND, Va. (April 26) - It was exactly one year ago at the annual Virginia Nationals when popular Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas accomplished one of his most cherished career goals. On a cool Saturday morning at Virginia Motorsports Park, Thomas...

RICHMOND, Va. (April 26) - It was exactly one year ago at the annual Virginia Nationals when popular Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas accomplished one of his most cherished career goals. On a cool Saturday morning at Virginia Motorsports Park, Thomas piloted his sleek Pontiac Firebird through a stunning 6.880-second pass at 200.35 mph. The run not only reset both ends of Thomas' personal performance marks, but also earned him immediate membership in the exclusive Speed Pro 200-mph Club.

What was even more impressive is that Thomas became one of a smaller, elite group of drivers that have merited spots in both of the Pro Stock class' milestone performance clubs. The Speed Pro trophy Thomas earned in Virginia became the perfect bookend to the Holley 6-Second Pro Stock Club award he earned in April 1997, at Atlanta Dragway.

"Crossing that hurdle was a high point in my career," Thomas said. "It was a goal for us for so long. What's special is that only 16 drivers were allowed in each of those clubs and then they closed them off. It's an honor to have my name etched in the record books forever. Realistically, I doubt we'll see another big barrier broken in my career."

Now, backed by Matco Tools and Pennzoil Motor Oil, Thomas, a 47-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn., returns to the site of his 200-mph triumph intent on driving to the winner's circle of this weekend's sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals.

"We'd sure like to duplicate or even improve on the speeds and times we posted last year," Thomas said. "From the early reports we're getting, the weather will be just as unpredictable as it was last year. I've heard a wide range of temperatures we can expect plus it looks like we might get some rain. That'll be a factor to contend with.

"Bottom line, we have to be prepared to post a huge number right from the start. All of us in the pro classes might have just one or two chances to qualify so there's no room for error. We'll be ready to go. We had a good outing at the last race in Houston and we're ready to hit it hard again this weekend."

The elimination rounds of the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals presented by Chevrolet will be broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) Sunday, April 30 on TNN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas