NHRA: Thomas Finishes Year as Pennzoil's Top Driver
15 November 1998POMONA, Calif. - Pennzoil Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas lost his quarterfinal race against Jeg Coughlin Sunday in the second round of elimination drag racing at the 34th Annual Winston Finals. The race marked the end of Team Pennzoil's 1998 campaign. Thomas was initially upset at finishing the season with a lap where he was forced to shut-off his engine after 300 feet. But it didn't take long for the smile to return to his face once he had a moment to reflect on the most successful season of his seven-year professional career.
"I blew right through the clutch," Thomas said. "It just never locked up with the motor and I knew there was nothing I could do so I just closed her down. I really wanted to win this race and finish the season with another Victory Circle celebration.
"We have added up the points and it looks as though I'll finish in sixth place. That's fantastic for us. We've never in been in the top 10 before so this is an awesome feeling. Plus, we jumped up a spot today. We started this race in seventh place and I could have finished in sixth, seventh or eighth depending on what went on with Mike Edwards and Tommy Martino. Everything ended up working out right for us to move up."
Thomas finished with 977 Winston points to Edwards' 975 points. Martino finished behind Edwards by just 13 points at 964 points.
A resident of Knoxville, Tenn., Thomas was the most successful driver for Team Pennzoil in 1998. He won the first national event of his career in May when he drove around 1998 Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson in the finals of the Route 66 Nationals in Chicago. He also qualified for 21 events and won 14 elimination round races.