NHRA: Chicago Mike Thomas Ready to Defend Pro Stock

NHRA: Chicago Mike Thomas Ready to Defend Pro Stock

Post by Motorsport News Internationa » Mon, 07 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Thomas ready to defend Pro Stock crown
Teammate Hill logs another successful qualifying session and braces for
Race Day

CHICAGO (June 5) -- Defending Pro Stock champion Mike Thomas and legendary
Top Fuel driver Eddie Hill will proudly carry the Pennzoil banner into
Sunday's elimination drag racing action at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. The
two men will each join 15 of their racing peers in a head-to-head,
sudden-death showdown with the championship of the Second Annual Fram
Nationals on the line.

The following information explains how each driver reached their goal of
racing on Sunday.

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird and
defending champion of the event, ran a very competitive lap of 7.035
seconds at 196.07 mph in the final session but couldn't better his
previously posted 7.024-second, 196.36-mph pass. Thomas held on to the
14th qualifying spot, which raises his total of elimination round
appearances this season to seven.

"We couldn't be more e***d," Thomas said. "It appears we have solved the
problem we encountered yesterday that slowed us down a little. It was an
electrical bug and we have fixed the problem completely. The last lap is
proof of that. We were the third quickest car in the session and ran just
as smooth as can be down the strip. It's real nice to run well in the
final session. It allows you to rest easy the night before Race Day
knowing your car is fast."

Thomas will open the elimination rounds against one of his engine
customers - Mike Edwards, who will have lane choice due to his superior
6.985-second, 197.05-mph qualifying effort. This race will mark their
first head-to-head battle of the year.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, managed a
4.735-second lap at 302.21 mph in the final qualifying round, which was
one of the quickest passes of the session. Still, Hill's best run of the
weekend was the 4.619-second, 305.98-mph lap he ran in Round 2 and he'll
use that pass to solidify the No. 7 spot in the qualifying field. The
finish marks the sixth time this year that the famous Texan has started
Sunday's action out of the top half of the qualifying field.

"We're very proud of the way we've been able to adjust this Pennzoil car
to all of the varying conditions we've encountered this year," Hill said.
"Obviously, this track got to be tricky today but we found a way to get
this car down in 4.73 seconds at 300-plus mph. That put a big ol' smile on
my face because the run gave us enough info to really be prepared for
tomorrow. From everything I hear the weather will be exactly the same then
and I now feel like we know precisely what we can and cannot do with this
car on this track."

On Race Day, Hill's first round opponent will be Bob Vandergriff, who
drove into the No. 10 spot with a 4.633-second, 314.83-mph pass in Round
4. Due to his slower qualifying time Vandergriff will forfeit lane choice
to Hill. The two men have raced each other twice this year with each
driver taking one win.

Bruce Allen, the pilot of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac
Firebird, completed his race weekend with a 7.087-second pass at 194.94
mph in Round 4. Allen's top run saw him cover the strip in 7.046 seconds
at 195.96 mph, which was 0.014 of a second slower than the time needed for
the 16th and final qualifying spot. The Arlington, Texas resident finished
in 19th place out of 33 cars.

"Unfortunately this ended up being one of those races where everybody
qualified in one session (Friday night) and that was the one time where we
missed the set-up," Allen said. "It's too bad because, relative to the
field in all the other rounds, we were actually the ninth or 10th quickest
car here. But that's racing. We weren't on when we needed to be.

"What happened here is that we were coming off back-to-back races where we
qualified for the elimination rounds but were on the bottom half of the
field. We weren't satisfied with that so we spent a lot of time testing
over the last two weeks trying to make this car quick enough to really
contend. We thought we had found some things and we tried them here but
they just didn't work as well as we had hoped.

"We certainly won't quit trying. We've got just a few days to get ready
for the race in Columbus (Ohio) and I hope we'll be ready to go there."

Allen has qualified for three elimination sessions this year and has a 1-3
record on Race Day. Entering this event, the 49-year-old was in 19th place
in the Winston points standings.