Driver Profile

Cale Thomas

Cale Thomas

Fairland, IN Submit Info | Claim Profile

Thomas Plagued by Issues After Eldora Crash

Thomas Plagued by Issues After Eldora Crash

(Photo by Tyler Carr Racing Photos)

HAUBSTADT, Ind. – With a promising start to the All Star Circuit of Champions Ohio Sprint Speedweek, Cale Thomas looked forward to running up front with some of the best racers sprint car racing has to offer. Nine nights of racing were on tap, but that number decreased due to rain and mechanical issues stemming from night two’s crash at Eldora Speedway.

The week started off at a familiar track for the 17-year-old former micro sprint standout. Attica Raceway Park was the venue, where a huge car count of 58 sprints signed in for All Star action. Going out nearly last in qualifying, it was unexpected that Thomas would register a strong time. However, he stopped the clock in 12.805 seconds, less than half a second off the quick timer. The lap was good for 23rd-quick overall, and third in his heat race group. Starting from outside the front row, Thomas corralled a third-place finish to transfer into the main event. From the 16th starting position, he looked to advance in the early going, working his way to 13th. From then on, however, the black No. 91 fell back gradually, and finished in the 20th spot. “58 cars and being able to make the show with this class field is a confidence boost,” Thomas remarked after the event. “You know it’s tough tonight when Bryan Clauson (who raced in the Indianapolis 500 in May) is rolling out for the C-Main.”

Rossburg, Ohio’s renowned Eldora Speedway was next up for the Ohio Speedweek. The night began in spectacular fashion for the youngster, holding the fastest time most of the way through qualifying before five-time All Star points champion Dale Blaney knocked him off by .001 seconds to take the top spot. Thomas’ lap was still second overall and first amongst the drivers in group one. Starting heat race action from fourth, he battled for several laps to stay that spot, the final transfer. A costly mistake came when Thomas let his car drift too high and contacted the wall. Though he was lucky not to get upside down, the front axle was destroyed and relegated him to the B-Main. With a new axle supporting the Engler Machine and Tool/J&J Auto Racing sprinter, he took from the pole position in that race and handily took the checkered first to advance to the feature race.

Going 19th, Thomas’ start dropped him back several positions to 25th on lap one. Looking to battle back by and move forward with the hope of a few cautions to help out, he didn’t expect to be the reason for a stoppage. Nonetheless, the aero-dependent track claimed another victim, this time the No. 91. Sliding behind another car and losing downforce sent the machine into the outside wall and into a nasty tumble. Though Thomas was quite sore after the crash, he was uninjured and ready for redemption the following night at Waynesfield Raceway Park.

There, it became apparent that the damage to the car was heavier than expected. Managing to qualify just 46th of 50 entrants due to issues stemming from the flip, Thomas’ team made the tough decision to call it an early night. When the problems persisted on Monday at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, qualifying 47th and finishing 8th in heat race competition, another difficult decision was made: rather than attend the race at Sharon Speedway on Tuesday, the team would return home to Indianapolis to ready a new car for Atomic Speedway the following night.

With the new car, better results weren’t apparent right away, qualifying 31st among the 48 sprints. From sixth in his heat race, Thomas was into fifth on lap one and looking to pass legendary Ohio racer Kenny Jacobs for the final transfer spot. Though Thomas was able to ward off a slidejob from behind, he couldn’t manage to pass Jacobs, and finished fifth. Sent to the B-Main, a stellar opening lap saw him charge past four cars from his tenth spot on the grid and into sixth. Needing just two more positions to earn a main event start, a caution flag on lap three was just what Thomas needed – or so he thought. The handling of the car was never the same after the restart, likely due to the right rear tire cooling off too much, and he slipped back to tenth, ending the night.

At Fremont for the seventh scheduled night of Ohio Sprint Speedweek, the car count was unexpectedly the lowest of the week. Just 40 cars signed in, giving drivers two laps to qualify instead of just one, and sending the top five from four heat races to the main event rather than the top four from five heats. The last of the 40 cars on the track to qualify was the Factory Kahne-backed entry of Thomas, whose 13.486-second lap put him 28th on the speed chart. Fifth-fastest in the fourth group meant he’d grid in the fifth and final transfer position, but an up-and-down race saw him fall back and regain the fifth position twice, but Thomas ultimately finished in seventh. Starting 11th in the B-Main with only four cars transferring, the going would be tough to move into the feature. Running in 12th early, a mistake on lap five was all it took to bury him in the running order, and Thomas took the checkered in the 18th spot.

Limaland Motorsports Park was next, but with overnight rains wreaking havoc on the grounds there, the events were cancelled. More rain was on the way, and Saturday’s return to Fremont Speedway was also cancelled with no makeup date, so Thomas and his crew hurriedly made the nearly six-hour trip to Haubstadt, Ind. to race at the quarter-mile Tri-State Speedway, arriving just before the drivers meeting got underway. The Midwest Open Wheel Association event, dubbed the “Southern Indiana Stampede,” set up with Thomas drawing the number “2” pill, slating him on the pole of heat two. At one of his best tracks, he took from the heat pole and won to collect a dash starting spot. The redraw put Thomas front row outside for the six-lap race, but falling three positions determined he’d start fifth in the main event.

Capping the weeklong trip with a 25-lap feature, the Fairland, Ind. native held tight to the fifth position early on, but the suspension setup favored a slicker track. Thomas would begin to succumb to the tacky surface through the middle of the race; a caution with 14 laps complete put him in ninth place, and he’d fall back to 11th on the restart. A bump from behind with three laps left sent Thomas’ machine spinning to rest in turn two. Reduced to 13th, one car ahead of him tangled with a lapped car on the restart to move him up to 12th. Thomas finished in that position following a green-white-checkered to conclude the event.

Thomas would like to thank Engler Machine and Tool, Factory Kahne, J&J Auto Racing, Kaeding Performance, Donovan Engineering, Spike Products, Simpson Indy, Maxima Oils, Hoosier Racing Tire, Blackbeard, and Shadow Graphics, as well as all of his fans for their continued support.

Thomas is currently seeking additional sponsorship going forward. For more information, please contact Thomas or Redbeard Promotions with any inquiries.

Quick Results

June 19 – Attica, OH – 410ci Winged Sprint – Qualifying: 23rd; Heat: 3rd (2); Feature: 20th (16)
June 20 – Rossburg, OH – 410ci Winged Sprint – Qualifying: 2nd; Heat: 7th (4); B-Main: 1st (1); Feature: 25th (19)
June 21 –Waynesfield, OH – 410ci Winged Sprint – Qualifying: 46th
June 22 – Orrville, OH – 410ci Winged Sprint – Qualifying: 47th; Heat: 8th (10)
June 24 – Chillicothe, OH – 410ci Winged Sprint – Qualifying: 31st; Heat: 5th (6); B-Main: 10th (10)
June 25 – Fremont, OH – 410ci Winged Sprint – Qualifying: 28th; Heat: 7th (5); B-Main: 17th (11)
June 27 – Haubstadt, IN – 410ci Winged Sprint – Heat: 1st (1); Dash: 5th (2); Feature: 12th (5)

2015 Stats

15 races, 7 features, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top tens, 2 DNFs

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Article Credit: Redbeard Promotions

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