Tommy Praytor Photo's
Thomas Praytor Pensacola: With a presentation of the Second Place points fund check for the Super Stock Division at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway the Moose closed out the 2007 Racing Season. Rookie of the Year title in Pensacola with runner up finishes in the Championship standings at Mobile and Pensacola, capped off by a 5-A State Football title in his senior year, may make 2007 a hard act to follow. Our Max Force Racing shop has been working hard over the Winter months prepping the Moose’s new G-Force Late Model for the 2008 season and a couple of other projects that we’ll be announcing in the up coming weeks along with the Moose’s 2008 racing schedule.
Thomas: “So much happened last year and I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet what we accomplished. So many people helped make it happen it would be impossible to name them all. Special thanks to G-Force Racing Gear and the Museum of Naval Aviation for sponsoring our efforts in Pensacola. The veterans at Five Flags really taught me a lot about racing, on and off the track. I really struggled at Pensacola the first few weeks and those guys helped me find my way. I feel like we have some unfinished business in Pensacola in the Super Stocks and I hope we take care of that on March 14th in the season opener.”
Picture: Tim Bryant, from Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway presenting the Moose with some hardware from the 2007 season.
CLOSES OUT 2007 SEASON
Thomas Praytor Mobile 12-28-07: While the Snowball closed out the 2007 racing season and a football state Championship was the icing on the cake for a phenomenal year, the Moose was not quite done. Our annual fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House set new records for fan participation and money raised for RMH. With a lot of help from our friends this year’s check was $3,364.00. Our RMH Fund Raiser at Mobile International would not be possible without the support of track owner Ida Fields. The Speedway matches what we win on the track; we add what the fans chip in (this years participation was more than ever) and then the folks at AIG American General matches it all. Thanks to everyone for setting a new record. Plans are already in the work for 2008!
Picture L-R In front of Christmas tree at Ronald McDonald House L-R Ida Field (MIS), Al Tenhundfeld (RMH) Thomas, Tommy, Lisa Bond (AIG) and Andrew Bond.
SAINTS WIN TITLE!
The Saints opened a 14-0 half time lead and looked liked
they were cruising to the title. Their opponent, Briarwood, didn’t get to the
title game and build a 14-0 record by rolling over. Briarwood’s quarterback and
Auburn signee, Barrett Trotter opened the 2nd half with a touchdown
and served notice they were ready to rumble. After the opening drive, the Saints
defense got tough and would not allow another score. With less than 2 minutes to
go in the game, the Saints dropped back to punt. The kick was blocked and gave
Briarwood the ball deep in Saints territory. Once again the defense would come
up big with an interception. The Saints would run the clock down to 16 seconds
but would have to punt. Briarwood again blocked the punt and this time ran it in
for the score with less than 10 seconds to go and draw within the extra point to
tying the game. Once again the Saints defense came to the rescue when Josh
Lancaster busted through the line to deflect the kick and preserve the Saints
TO MISS SNOWBALL DERBY
Thomas Praytor 11-27-07: After coming up 1 spot short chasing championships at Mobile International Speedway and Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway in 2007 the Moose will miss the 2007 Snowball Derby while chasing another Championship, the Alabama State Football Title. As a senior member of the St. Paul’s Varsity football team, the Moose will be at Ladd Stadium on Friday night as the 4th ranked 12-1 Saints take on the Williamson Lions in the semi final game of the state playoffs. The seniors have been playing together since the 6th grade and had a perfect season winning the region title in the 8th grade. This year’s team started at the top of the high school rankings and quickly lost the one of the first games of the year to Williamson. Since the first game, the Saints have gone undefeated with one more win sending them to the state Championship game. For the Moose to give up a guaranteed starting spot in the Derby was a big call but an easy one. Thomas, “When I was trying to win the Championship in Mobile and Pensacola Coach Bates was behind me 100%. I missed a lot of football to race and my teammates and the coaches were more concerned about how I finished then what I missed. Friday night in Pensacola we have an opportunity to win the race but not a Championship. Me not being with my teammates as we go for a Championship after all the support they have given me wouldn’t be right. So, Friday night I’ll be running 72 instead of 28. I appreciate the Bryant family at Pensacola and all our fans and sponsors for supporting me. I look forward to being back in 2008 and hopefully moving up a spot in the points.”
COLLECTS SOME HARDWARE
Thomas: “Congratulations to Mr. Howard (Langham), we chased him all year but just couldn’t quite catch him. I want to thank all of our sponsors, especially G-Force for coming on board this year as our primary sponsor. I also want to thank Mrs. Ida (Fields owner MIS) for giving us a place to race. All of the guys who helped us with the car I couldn’t race without you, thanks.”
Picture: Thomas receiving second place points fund check and trophy from Christian Fausak of Fausak tires and Service.
MOOSE SETS NEW FUND
Thomas Praytor 10-13-07 Mobile: The G-Force Racing Gear logo’s were replaced this weekend for our annual fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House at Mobile International Speedway. The formula for the fund raiser goes like this, we take what we win on the track, then Ida Fields at the Speedway matches that, then we take donations from fans and then all of that is matched by AIG American General. The Moose came into the final night of racing at MIS second in the Championship points standings sandwiched between 2 former track champions with little possibility to move up or down. A perfect spot to let it all hang out for RMH. A Thursday test and a couple rounds of practice on Saturday and the Moose was locked and loaded for the feature. The dice roll to set the starting line up would once again be unkind to the Moose and put him starting outside the front row next to the point’s leader Howard Langham. The problem with starting outside the front row is everyone else gets to get down to the preferred groove while your left hanging like a worm on a hook on the outside. With the drop of the green flag that’s exactly what happened, the Moose fought the outside lane and raced side by side with the inside line as he slowly fell back. The Moose finally horned his way in line in 4th position and started marching back to the front. One by one he picked them off working his way back to 2nd and trying to real in Langham. Langham has had an amazing year going undefeated it the Super Stock division in 2007. The race was slowed several times and the Moose was able to hold onto 2nd until the final restart with 5 to go when Jeremy Dickens got under the Moose and Moose found himself on the outside lane again. The pair raced side by side until the Moose lost the spot and settled in for 3rd. The finish capped a solid year for the 2006 MIS Rookie of the Year with the Moose finishing 2nd or 3rd in every feature race in 2007. A record that would normally be enough to take the title but would put him second in the Championship points standings in 2007. The night was a record setting night for our RMH fundraiser and with money still coming in we know it will get even better. For those who have not had a chance yet we’re still taking donations to keep adding to the pot.
Thomas on his night: “We had a great car and I really thought we might have a shot at Mr. Howard but we just couldn’t catch him. I’m not real happy about giving up that spot on the last restart but I think my Dad is twice as unhappy as I am. The fans really turned out for our Ronald McDonald House fundraiser. This was my first year to run the paint scheme and it was really cool. The fans are awesome and I’m pumped up about setting a new record for the money we give to Ronald McDonald House.” More Moose Click Here
MOOSE TAKES 4TH
BUT NOT ENOUGH
Thomas Praytor Pensacola 9-29-07: After the carnage of double points night at Five Flags Speedway, the Moose and his G-Force team spent the last 2 weeks putting back together what had been a solid racecar. Five Flags played host to the season Championships races on a rare Saturday night start, opening up Friday night for a much needed practice for the rebuilt racecar. Off the trailer, the G-Force Pontiac was remarkably close to where it had been just 2 weeks before. Some fine tuning on Friday night and a complete check out on Saturday morning and the team was ready to work on a setup for race night. The race plan on Saturday night for the Moose was simple, win. Winning was the only way to have a shot at the title. In baseball terms, Thomas had been the model of consistency hitting singles, doubles and triples all year long but on Saturday night he was racing only 1 other car and he needed a homerun to win the title. In practice on Saturday the team worked on a new shock and air pressure package to give the Moose that little extra to get to victory lane. Practice went as planned until the G-Force Pontiac would not go in gear coming off pit road. The problem would force the team to take the transmission out of the car, repair it and put it back before the race. With the transmission back in and the homerun package under the car the Moose lined up for the extended lap feature in 5th place. In order for the setup package to work, the team needed the race to be made up of shorts green flag runs and with a full field of cars the odds for cautions were good. With the drop of the green flag the Moose was on the loose and within 2 laps was in 2nd looking for the lead. While the Moose was looking for the lead, the point’s leader Chris Cotto was hunting the Moose and the pair were nose to tail. The first part of the race went as the team had planned with multiple cautions and the G-Force Pontiac was hauling the mail. While trying to work around the race leader, the point’s leader, Cotto, got the preferred line on the Moose and took 2nd. The pair then passed the leader and first and second in points were running 1-2 on the racetrack and setting sail on the field. A caution filled first half of the race was just what the doctor ordered for the Moose to stay in Cotto’s tire tracks and in contention for the Championship. But a second place finish would not be enough and the Moose kept his foot in the gas to get back by Cotto. The race took on a green flag look and the Moose was burning up everything he had to stay in contention. By lap 25, the Moose was slipping and sliding off of every turn. Off turn 4, the 3rd place car hit the Moose square in the rear and 2 cars got by and the Moose finished 4th in the race, recording his 13 top 5 finish of the 2007 season. The only time the Moose did not finish in the top 5 at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway in 2007 was opening night and he finished 6th in the opener. With the regular season in the books at Five Flags the Moose takes home the Rookie of the Year honors along with the runner up position in the points standings in his first season at the home of the Snowball Derby. The Moose will be back in action in 2 weeks for the AIG American General Ronald McDonald House night at Mobile International Speedway. The October 13th race at MIS is the final race of the year in Mobile and the Moose enters the race in the 2nd position in the Championship in Mobile.
Thomas: “Everyone has been congratulating us on a great season in Pensacola but I’m still not really happy with not winning the Championship. May be a few days from now I can look back and appreciate what we accomplished this year. I need to thank everybody again that helped us over the last 2 weeks. For most people the season would have been over but we’ve got an awesome group of people behind us. I’m looking forward to going back to Mobile for Ronald McDonald House night.”
Picture: Moose at stop and go during practice.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS
Thomas Praytor Pensacola Pre Race 9-27-07: After 13 feature races and a double handful of heat races, plus double points night 2 weeks ago, the Championship at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway comes down to just 4 points in the final points race of the 2007 season this Saturday night in Pensacola. The Moose entered the 2007 season, at the home of the Snowball Derby, looking to take home Rookie of the Year honors, a top 5 finish in the final points standings and gain valuable experience for the 40th Annual Snowball Derby, but a funny thing happened on the way to the Derby. By mid May the Moose had the points lead at Five Flags and the 17-year-old rookie went from the hunter to the hunted. The Moose held the points lead through the Summer until veteran and favorite for this year’s title, Chris Cotto, took it back a month ago. After swapping the lead back and forth 2 weeks ago Cotto resumed the points lead by 4 points heading into the final night of racing in Pensacola. While Cotto has had the faster car, the Moose has been the model of consistency, with 12 top 5s in 13 races and has finished every race. The 4 points represents 2 spots on the racetrack and simply means the Moose will need to finish 2 places ahead of Cotto on Saturday night to win the Championship. A tall order, considering that has happened only 1 other time in the 2007 season. The good news for the Moose is, he and Cotto have walked away from the other competitors in this years title hunt and the worse he can do is finish the year in the 2nd position. For the final race, the tables are turned and the Moose goes from the hunted to the hunter!
Thomas: “Everybody has worked really hard to get our car back together after double points night. We spent 7 hours on Mr. Walker’s frame machine just trying to get it back straight. I think everyone that has ever helped me or my Dad in our career has helped us these last 2 weeks and I wouldn’t be able to race without them. We were an underdog coming in to the season and we’re an underdog going into Saturday night. All I can tell you is this, we’re gonna give it all we got.”
Picture: Thomas and Pensacola’s Pit road announcer Dave Pavlock.
WILD DOUBLE POINTS NIGHT AT 5 FLAGS
Thomas Praytor Pensacola 9-14-07: With the 2007 season winding down, Pensacola’s Five Flags speedway hosted a night of double points night racing. At the start of the 2007 season the Pensacola Rookie was an improbable contender for the season title against the veterans of 5 Flags Speedway but as the season progressed he took the points lead when the favorite for the Championship, Chris Cotto had an off night and held it until 2 weeks ago. The Moose entered the double points showdown 6 points behind Cotto and was looking to regain the top spot. On Friday night both the heat race and the feature were double points and everyone in the field was looking to improve their positions in the Championship standings. With the drop of the green flag in the heat race the Moose and Cotto were on the move from the back (For the heat race the field is inverted by points with the highest in the points to the back). The pair was passing cars as fast as they could get to them. Two laps in, Cotto would find trouble and destroy his racecar. The Moose missed the wreck and kept passing cars to retake the point’s lead after the heat race. Cotto would not be able to use his car for the feature and borrowed a car, keeping him in the title hunt. With a solid finish in the heat race, the Moose would start on the outside pole for the feature. The Moose worked the outside groove for a couple of laps before falling in line in the 3rd position. Going into turn 3 the Moose got tapped from behind, pushing him into the car in front of him and sending the 3 cars into a sideways slide. All 3 kept from spinning and the race stayed green. The Moose lost a few spots but the contact cut the right rear tire and the Moose had to pit under green. The stop would cost Thomas 4 laps and what looked like a shot at the Championship. Back on track the Moose was making laps when give and take went out the window on double points night for those cars on the lead lap. The destruction that ensued was incredible with cars dropping like flies as the laps progressed. The Moose was at the tail end of the field with 10 to go when a car blew a motor in the middle of the pack. 4 cars would slam the outside wall including the Moose. The G-Force Pontiac hit left rear first then whipped around and hit the left front. The rear end was moved forward 8 inches, the left front was shoved 5 inches in and the back end of the car was up to the rear window. Basically the car was destroyed and it appeared so was the Moose’s title hopes. The wrecker pushed the Moose backed to the pit area and the team went to work, new tires, tearing away the sheet metal that was going to fall off and trying to get the G-Force Pontiac back on track. In addition to the front of the car going one way and the back going another, the transmission was stuck in 4th gear because the drive shaft had been rammed in to it about 3 inches further than what it should have been. The Moose limped back out onto the racetrack to try and finish the race. The carnage that was the super stock race had taken its toll on the field and now there were only 2 cars on the lead lap and if the Moose could limp home, he could pick up 6 spots and finish an improbable 4th. The first lap back on the track the left rear brake rotor shattered and sent the brake caliper flying over the wall into the pit area causing another lap of caution and an inspection of the G-Force machine by race officials to make sure nothing else was going to fall off. Fortunately the track sent the inspector that uses a Seeing Eye dog and a red tip cane to inspect the Moose’s and car and he went back on the track. Everyone held their breath as the Moose limped around the track. With the checkered flag in the air the Moose limped home and passed all the cars that were involved in the blown motor wreck and the rest of the destruction to finish 4th. The finish would actually allow the Moose to close in on the point’s leader and now trail by only 4 points heading to the season Championship in 2 weeks.
Thomas on his night: “Really the whole night was just a blur. Everything was happening so fast, one minute we were up and the next it looked like we were down for the count. Fixing the cut tire cost us 4 laps and I thought it was over. Then I got in the oil from the blown motor and hit the wall a ton. I’ve never been in car that was that screwed up and still tried to drive it. The guys worked hard to get us back out but it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t realize how bad it was until after the race. It’s pretty messed up we’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready for the season Championship race in 2 weeks.”
Picture attached: G-Force Pontiac Post race
ALL WE HAD TO DO WAS START THE RACE
Thomas Praytor-Pensacola 9-8-07: After 2 consecutive rainouts, the Moose was looking for some track time in his G-Force Pontiac. With a new set of heads put on 2 weeks ago, Friday night’s practice at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway was the first real test of the new power plant. With more horses under the hood the team made a gear change for Five Flags to keep the RPMs in the power band that works best for the Moose. Off the trailer, the G-Force machine was solid and it looked everything was in place for another good night of racing. During the closing laps of practice, Chris Cotto (2nd in the points standings by 6 points) broke a steering box off of turn 4, hit the wall with his right front and whipped around and hit the right rear on the inside retaining wall. With Cotto needing a wrecker to get back to the pit area it appeared Thomas had a lock on the Championship. All we had to do was start the race. While Cotto was being towed back to the pits, the team decided to help get him back on the track. The sentiment from the Max Force team was to win the Championship on the track, head to head. Back in the garage the Max Force team helped Cotto survey the damage and what it would take to repair it. With a dozen or so trips to the Max Force hauler for parts and tools the Max Force team along with other teams worked with Cotto’s to get his car fixed and ready to race. A couple of hours later and what seemed like a hundred pop rivets, the Max Force team returned to their hauler to prepare for the feature race finale.
The Moose and Cotto would start side by side, at the rear of the field by virtue of their 1-2 finish at the last race. With the green flag in the air both hit the gas with Cotto quickly moving to the front while the Moose looked like he was moving in slow motion. With fresh rubber the new gear bogged the G-Force Pontiac down and wasn’t moving to the front like normal. The Moose fought hard but 5th was the best the team could muster. Cotto and his freshly repaired car finished 1st. The nights racing action would swap the pair in the standings, the Moose went from 6 points up to 6 points back with 2 races left. Next up, double points night at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway on Friday night.
Thomas on his night: “We tried something different with the gear and it really didn’t work well for us. We’ll go back to what we had and with the new power we should be back on our game. People were making a big deal out of us helping Mr. Chris (Cotto). It really wasn’t that big of a deal he needed help and we helped him out. We want to win the Championship but we want to win it on the track.”
Picture attached: Max Force team making repairs to Chris Cotto’s car.
MOOSE TAKES 2ND IN PENSACOLA
Thomas on his night; “I’m glad we finished 2nd but we weren’t as good as we were 2 weeks ago. Two weeks ago I felt like we had closed the gap on Mr. Chris (Cotto) some but we didn’t show it this week. I appreciate Mr. Kerry (Stofel from Action Motorsports Authentics) coming to watch me race, I wish we had put on a better show for him. Two weeks is a double-header weekend and our last race at Mobile for the year. We’ve got a new set of heads we’re putting in for the stretch run and the Snowball Derby. So I’m looking forward to getting back to the track.”
Picture: Thomas post race on the front stretch with Kerry Stofel from Action Motor Sports Authentics.
Thomas Praytor, better known as the Moose, started another double-header weekend of racing on the Gulf Coast with a stop at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway. The Moose entered the weekend as the Championship point’s leader in Pensacola trying to fend off veteran Chris Cotto, track champion and Snowball Derby winner for the title. Off the trailer the Moose was quick and looking for a good night. Being the point’s leader the Moose started at the tail end of the heat race. With the drop of the green flag, the Moose was on the hunt and by the 2nd lap had the lead and went on to win by 10 car lengths. The win would be the first leg in hitting the cycle for the weekend. In the feature the Moose would again take up the tail end, because of his finishing position in the last race. With the drop of the green flag the Moose was on the move quickly picking off competitors. By the time the Moose cleared the field, the leader, Cotto, had opened up a 10 car length lead. With clean air the Moose was on the hunt again. Lap by lap the Moose closed on the leader, picking up a car length every lap, by lap 20 the Moose was on the leader. Just as the Moose was ready to start working for the lead a caution flag would fly. The race would restart with 5 to go, the Moose’s car was not as good on the short run and 5 laps was not enough to mount a challenge again for the lead.
With a solid start to the weekend in the books, the G-Force team spent a long day in the shop to prepare for Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway. The two tracks have become completely different and it takes 4-5 hours to change the car from the Pensacola setup to the Mobile setup. Currently 2nd in the championship points standings at Mobile International Speedway the Moose is chasing another veteran for the title. Off the trailer the G-Force Pontiac was struggling. The team kept making changes throughout both practice sessions all the way up to qualifying. The Moose posted a 4th place qualifying effort but the car was not up to the team’s expectations. Another round of changes and the Moose lined up for the heat race. Heat racing at MIS may be the most exciting 6 laps in Motorsports, with the fast cars in the back and only 6 laps to get to the front. With the drop of the green flag the Moose committed to the outside lane, not a place for the feint of heart. The inside line was bottled up and the Moose was making headway on the outside. With 3 to go he was 5th, 2 to go he was 3rd looking for 2nd. With the Moose moving up on the outside line, the inside line decided it was time to go and they moved the leader up out of the groove and in the path of the Moose. The outside lane was done and the Moose had to settle for 4th. For the 20 lap feature the Moose would start 4th and by lap 3 the top 3 settled into the positions they would finish and the Moose would finish 3rd. The 3rd place finish in Mobile would complete the cycle for the weekend, 1st and 2nd in Pensacola, 3rd and 4th in Mobile.
Thomas on his
weekend: “We’ve been chasing a win at Pensacola and I’m pumped up to finally get
one. We’re in a battle with Mr. Chris (Cotto) for the championship and I don’t
think many people are giving us a shot at winning it but we are not going to
quit until the final lap in September. We struggled in Mobile on Saturday night
but everyone just kept working and we had a much better car in the feature.
Mobile is a 3-way race for the championship and we’re sandwiched between 2 track
champions. Mr. Howard (Langham) and Mr. Shannon (Jackson) have been fun to race
with all year. They had us covered Saturday night but we’ll try and catch them
MOOSE RUMBLES BACK TO 3RD
The Blizzard Series is a big stage for the Super Late Models and a limelight that all the competitors enjoy being a part of. Friday night would be no exception, with almost 40 super late models in the pit and big turn out of Super Stocks for a regular Friday night show. As the point’s leader, the Moose has compiled an impressive list of top 3 finishes in the 2007 season. In Pensacola there is a price for finishing in the top 3, the next race the top 3 from the previous week start 10, 11 & 12. With a second place finish in his last outing the Moose would start 11th while his closest competitor for the title would start 3rd. With the drop of the green flag the Moose was on the loose and by the 7th lap the Moose made an outside move and was in 2nd place. Just after he completed the pass the caution flag flew and the Moose would have to give back the 2nd spot to veteran Steve Campbell and restart 3rd. The Moose had pulled one over on Campbell the first time by with a slick outside move while Campbell was tied up in the low lane but it would be harder the second time. Back under green the Moose searched high and low for away around Campbell for the next 13 laps. A caution with 5 to go would give the Moose another shot at Campbell and 2 laps into the green flag run the Moose made an outside fake and dove low under Campbell coming off turn 4. Almost clear of Campbell the Moose’s car lost grip and he was now headed for the inside wall. By the end of the straightaway the Moose had a handle on his car but he had gone from the hunter to the hunted. Campbell had gotten back by him and South Alabama Speedway track champion Jody Henderson was on his bumper. The Moose would fend off the challenge from Henderson and draw back up on Campbell’s bumper on the final lap of the race but not have enough to get the spot back. The third place finish would be the Moose’s 4th podium finish in a row at Five Flags Speedway and enough to retain the points lead.
Thomas on his
night: “The Naval Museum was an awesome place and it really made me realize how
big of an honor it is to run their car. If you think about all the great people
who flew those planes and what they went through I’m proud to represent them.
Plus, it was Blue Angel weekend and those guys are unbelievable. We worked hard
on our car on Thursday and it paid off. I feel like we’ve improved 100% this
year and we’re still chasing Mr. Chris (Cotto). We’ll keep working on getting
MOOSE FLYS NAVY TO 2ND
While racing on the Gulf Coast took a weekend off between races, the Moose was at the racetrack. During the off weekend the Moose was in Memphis with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, returning just in time to join Grant Enfinger and his Beasley Allen late model team for a 2 day show at Peach State Speedway in Georgia. Back in town for a day’s worth of sleep on July 4th, it was back to work in the Max Force Race shop in Mobile to prepare for Military Appreciation night at Five Flags Speedway. The Speedway’s Military Appreciation night inspired the team to change the hood from their primary sponsor, G-Force Racing Gear, to the National Museum of Naval Aviation. The Museum is the most visited museum in the state of Florida and the perfect vehicle for the Max Force team to show it’s appreciation to our men and women in the Military.
Off the trailer, the normal reliable Pontiac the team is used to at Pensacola’s Five Flag Speedway was just junk. The team worked hard in both practice session to make the car better but nothing seemed to help. Another round of changes and the Moose lined up at the tail end of the heat race. Thomas made his way to 4th but the car was not much better. The crew went back to work, even taking the car back through the technical inspection line to find what might be amiss. All the measuring points were in line but the car would not sit properly on the scales. The weld that held the rear end in place had broken on the left side and the rear end was moved forward an inch. With the left side forward it basically had the rear of the car steering to the right even when you want to go straight. If you wanted to turn a little it was turning a lot. The team quickly re-squared the rear end tightening the 4 bolts that clamp it in place as best they could but they would not have the benefit of a weld to hold it in place. Fingers crossed they loaded the Moose into the Naval Museum Pontiac for the feature.
A Navy color guard and a group from NAS Pensacola to sing the National Anthem seemed to set the set stage for a special night with the Nation Museum of Naval Aviation on the hood. Having finished in the top 3 at the last race at Pensacola, the Moose was relegated to starting at the back of the field. With the drop of the green flag the Moose was on the march and by lap 8 he was up to 4th. Coming off of 4 the car he had just passed lifted the back end of the Naval Museum Pontiac off the ground and sent the Moose into the spin cycle down the front straightaway. The spin started off of turn 4 and the Moose was working over time inside the car, a 360 then a 180 followed by another 180 and the Naval Museum Pontiac came to a rest all the way down in the entrance of turn 1 with the nose of the car resting against the inside retaining wall. Somehow the Moose had been able to keep it off the wall and was able to continue. The car was not hurt but the tires were now flat spotted in 2 places and at a track that depends on tires the Moose was now at a real disadvantage. The Moose may have been at a disadvantage on paper but when you have a mad Moose things are going to happen. Back under green the Moose now had to work his way back the front, within a few laps he was back up to 4th but the leaders had set sail on the field and catching them was impossible. Impossible unless you have a caution and a caution is what the Moose got with 5 to go. By the time the caution flag flew the Moose was a little cooler but with the field bunched back up he could see the car that put him in the spin cycle, a little extra incentive to get to the front. The Moose got a bad jump on the restart but by the time the field made a circuit the Moose had a full head of steam. He soon caught the 3rd place car and was looking for a spot to pass. Second and third were bunched up and with 3 to go the Moose took to the outside. The outside at Pensacola is tricky with fresh rubber and passing slow cars, with tires that have 22 laps and have been flat spotted, trying to pass for 3rd and 2nd is down right crazy. By the time the field took the white flag the Moose had cleared both 3rd and 2nd and was looking at the back end of the leader, the leader was the car that had put the Moose in to the spin earlier in the race. Racing 3rd and 2nd side by side had given the leader enough room to hold off the Moose for a lap and the Moose would take 2nd in a remarkable recovery.
Thomas on his night: “What a night. We were just horrible in practice and the guys just kept working and finally figured it out in time for the feature. I want to thank Grant (Enfinger) for helping us out tonight. We had a much better car in the feature and we were able to move forward pretty quick. I don’t know what the 44 (race winner) was thinking, I had just passed him and he nearly cost us a racecar on the front stretch. We were able to get back to 2nd but you know we passed the winner (44) in the first 5 laps of the race. I’m still pretty hot about it. It was a great night for our team, we had the Naval Museum on the hood and we added to our points lead. We had a lot of people at the track with us tonight including one of our tire sponsors, S & S Cox Electric. I can’t thank them and all our sponsors enough for what they do for us.”Picture Attached: The Moose on the front stretch after post race interviews with the Cox family
POINTS NIGHT AT MOBILE
After taking a podium finish at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway in the GSA Finance Super Stock spectacular, the Moose loaded up his G-Force Pontiac and headed for double points night at Mobile International Speedway. Racing on back to back nights requires a lot of work to be performed in a short period of time, add the pressure of 2 big races back to back and the G-Force team was working over time. A normal change over takes approximately 4-5 hours; add to the mix what was broken on Friday night at the team was pushing to make it to Mobile International Speedway in time to qualify. With a lot of help the team rolled into Mobile International Speedway in time for practice. Off the trailer the G-Force machine was having some of the same problems it had in Pensacola, the team quickly made the repairs and the Moose was able to get in 1 good practice before qualifying. With limited practice the Moose had a solid racecar and was able to qualify 4th. Saturday’s race night was regular show with a heat race and a feature with the feature scoring double points. The Moose started the heat race in 4th and quickly was up to the back bumper of the leader and looking for the lead. Off of turn 2 the Moose got a little anxious and tried to press a hole that wasn’t there, sending the leader into the spin cycle. The move would send Thomas to the tail end of the line and ending his shot at a good finish in the heat race. Looking to for a better finish in the feature the Moose quickly moved to second with the drop of the green flag and by lap 3 had the lead. While the Moose stretched out his lead on 2nd current points leader and former track champion Howard Langham was still working traffic. Langham soon made the pass for 2nd and set his sights on the Moose and within a couple of laps they were racing side by side for the lead. Langham eventually took the lead and he and Thomas began to separate themselves fro the field. By the drop of the checkered flag they had put 15 car lengths between themselves and the next competitor.
Thomas on his night: “I made a mistake in the heat race with Mr. Shannon (Jackson). I was in too much of a hurry and should have taken my time. I went down and talked it out with him and his car owner and I think everything is good. Luckily I didn’t tear their car up. We had a good car tonight, we need to keep working on getting our car better to catch Mr. Howard Langham.”
Picture: The Moose with engine builder Mike Woodsen at Mobile International Speedway. For More Moose Click Here
FINANCE SUPER STOCK
The competition on a regular Friday night at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway is pretty stiff, jack up the purse, add some laps and your going to draw a crowd. Friday night’s GSA Finance Super Stock Spectacular did just that. The field took on a Snowball Derby look as drivers converged on 5 Flags Speedway from, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Heat races normally set the starting lineup at Pensacola but for the GSA Super Stock Spectacular the field was set by 2 laps of qualifying. Halfway through his rookie season at 5 Flags the Moose has lots of laps but had only qualified 1 other time. With a fresh set of Hoosier tires the Moose turned in a 7th place qualifying effort and he would start behind a pair of track champions.
With the drop of the green flag the Moose was on the move, tucked in behind 3-time track champion and Snowball Derby winner, Donnie Hamrac, the pair were working their way to the front. The first few laps were filled with cautions as the field sorted out. By lap 5 the Moose was up to 5th and by lap 10 he was 3rd and the top 3 were putting some distance on the rest of the field. Hamrac had a comfortable lead with Chris Cotto and the Moose in tow. At the halfway point the Moose had a shot at Cotto but couldn’t make the pass. As the race wore on the Moose was falling back from the front pair and into the clutches of 4th place, Mike Moore. Moore tried to pass on the inside got loose and sent he and the Moose into a sideways slide off of turn 2. Somehow, both drivers regained control of their cars and kept going without a caution. The incident bunched the field back up and in the closing laps the Moose was able to hold everyone off for 3rd. In post race inspection, the team found the culprits for the Moose slowing down in the closing laps. The rear end gear was burnt up and well on its way to seizing up, another lap or 2 would have done it in. The other culprit, 2 sparkplug wires were lying against the header pipes and had burned through. Lady luck shined again on the Moose allowing him to retain the point’s lead in Pensacola.
Thomas on his night: “It was pretty wild out there tonight, I think I bounced off just about every car but the pace car. I thought we might have something for Mr. Chris (Cotto) but our car just started bogging down and it just wouldn’t go. We found the problem after the race and we got lucky again.”Picture: The Moose sharing a laugh with track announcer Dave Pavlock during post race interview following the GSA super Stock Spectacular. For More Moose Click Here
MOOSE TURNS IN BEST