May 27, 2010, 10:33PM
KALAMAZOO Tom Thomas admitted it might sound a little arrogant to say he’s going to win a track title in his first year competing full-time at the Kalamazoo Speedway.
He took the risk.
“I think we have a legitimate chance at it, but I think there are five other guys that have a legitimate chance at it, too,” Thomas said. “Hopefully we can just get in there and have a lot of fun points racing.”
There’s credibility behind the 36-year-old Grandville native’s words. He has, after all, won Late Model titles at Berlin Raceway in Marne in two of the last four seasons.
As Kalamazoo Speedway legend Andy Bozell pointed out, drivers who have seen success on the more spacious track an hour north traditionally follow suit in Kalamazoo.
“I’ve known Tom for a lot of years and have raced with him for a lot of years,” Bozell said. “He’s an A1 racer, an A1 person and a straight-shooter, hard-charging driver. He’s a great complement to Kalamazoo, that’s for sure.”
Thomas, an 18-year veteran, isn’t a true newbie to Kalamazoo. He competed there for several years on Berlin’s off days and in high-profile events like the Kalamazoo Klash. Last year, Thomas raced at Kalamazoo Speedway eight times.
Admitting his wins in Kalamazoo are limited, Thomas said he hopes to change that as he devotes his entire season to finding victory lane.
“It’s a combination of a lot of different things,” Thomas said when asked why he switched tracks. “The competition down there is really good and we always have a lot of fun when we come to Kalamazoo. We were ready for a change. We’re having fun so far.”
Thomas said jumping from Berlin’s 7/16-mile track to a 3/8-mile track in Kalamazoo is just one of the big differences.
Bozell, who used to race at Berlin full-time when it didn’t conflict with his home track, said the ambiance of Kalamazoo is one of the most enticing aspects.
“One of the biggest positives is the environment at Kalamazoo,” said Bozell. “The facility is very first class. The Howe family does an excellent job of maintaining the facility and putting money back in the facility and making it fun for the fans and drivers. I think that brings a great group of drivers, which sometimes can be a negative for outside drivers. Kalamazoo is a tough place to race.”
Thomas has been the top qualifier the past two weeks and he’s cracked the top five in the Lake Model feature once in the season’s first three weeks.
“We couldn’t be happier with the speed that the car has, we’re just trying to dial a little bit of drivability into it so I can pass a little easier,” Thomas said. “We’re just struggling finding our way to the front. I think once we get there, the car has plenty of speed to hold the front.”
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