NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Tyler Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., delivered his third straight top-three finish Saturday in the Late Model Pro division at New Smyrna Speedway, driving from eighth starting position to take second place in the 50-lap race.
Thomas, an 18-year-old in his rookie season in stock cars and on pavement, won the Late Model 25-lap race on June 21 and was third in his debut in a 50-lapper on May 17. He finished second to veteran Rich Clouser of DeLand, Fla., a multi-track and multi-division champion in Florida stock cars including at New Smyrna in the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Models, in his third stock car start Saturday.
“Everybody said there was more competition, more experienced drivers in this race than the first two,” Thomas said. “I was pretty pleased to run second considering the competition. To be able to run with those guys with more experience, it was pretty cool.
“We qualified eighth and there wasn’t an inversion, so I started eighth (in a field of 17 starters). I was very glad it was a 50-lap race. It’s a lot tougher to pass in these cars than the Midgets and Micro Sprints that I’ve mostly driven. It went green from the start for the opening 30 laps and I kind of rode around. My car was a little loose in the race and I couldn’t be as aggressive as I wanted to be. I was sitting in sixth, waiting for a yellow I guess. I finally got a yellow after 30 laps and lined up on the outside in sixth. I jumped to third on the first restart. We had a couple more yellows and I finally figured out a way on the outside line to get up to second. It was a close finish, one or two car lengths at the checkered flag.
“I really don’t have any complaints. Eighth to second isn’t bad. I had fun.”
Thomas has been busy racing nearly every weekend since the start of Spring, running in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and the Honda USAC National Midget Series in addition to the Late Model Pros at New Smyrna, but his next scheduled event is Aug. 9 at New Smyrna. Thomas could have a rare weekend off from going to the track. He’d prefer to go racing.
“I’m looking for a ride this weekend,” Thomas said. “I’m going to make some calls.”
For further information, go to www.TylerThomasMotorsports.com.
- Tyler Thomas Motorsports Release. Photo Credit: Tyler Thomas Motorsports