CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

July 22, 2013

LOCAL RACING: Good Hope grad Thomas continues to shine on USAC circuit

By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times

— After a solid showing during his 2012 rookie campaign, Kevin Thomas Jr. was looking to build on upon his track success when he began another round of racing for the United States Auto Club (USAC) back in February.

So far, so good for the speed junkie.

The Good Hope graduate completed the racing hat trick during Indiana Sprintweek last week, compiling three wins on three different tracks, including a wire-to-wire victory at the Don Smith Classic in Terre Haute, Ind. last Wednesday.

The wins bumped Thomas’ USAC victory total on the season to six races — eight total — which is more than double the amount of the next driver in line. It was his second three-race win streak of the year in the USAC.

Thomas pointed to several key factors for his recent run of success on the track.

“Me and my team get along really well,” he said. “There are no bad attitudes when we come to the track, and we are all trying to do the same thing. Things like that make it a lot easier on the driver, as well as the crew chief and the team.”

Although Thomas has six wins, he remains second overall in the points standings, though just 46 behind the first-place contender.

With the second half of the season just getting underway — Thomas estimates he and his team have around 15 to 20 races remaining — he’s confident he has plenty of time to get things where he wants them to be.

“We should be all right,” Thomas said. “We can comeback, have some good races and hopefully be the champion at the end of the year.”

Despite his wealth of individual success so far this season, Thomas isn’t looking for any personal accolades as he gears up for the latter part of his schedule.

In fact, the race car driver is convinced that everything will fall into place if he’ll simply go out, strap himself into his car and do what he always plan to do — win.

“First and foremost, I want to be a champion,” he said. “I want to win this team a championship. I’d like to win some records, but I don’t want to be selfish, either. The goal for me and for us to win as many races as possible.”

If Thomas keeps finding himself in victory lane, he’ll continue to inch closer and closer to his ultimate goal of reaching the highest level of auto racing in the world — NASCAR.

After seeing former USAC driver Kyle Larson rise up through the ranks following a tremendous career, Thomas certainly wants to follow in his footsteps.

However, despite his rash of wins and his want of success, he knows he’s still got a long way to go before he reaches the top.

“You’ve got to prove yourself,” he said. “Kyle won 22 races one year and 28 another before getting his chance. Luckily, I’ve been able to win some races, which gets my foot in the door, opens some eyes and gets my name out there.

“I may have to stay with USAC one more year or even two to get to the next level. Then, maybe I’ll be able to get both feet in the door where I’m there to stay. We are definitely on the right track so far.”

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.