CORSICANA, Texas – One trip to the race track was all it took to convince Marcus Thomas that the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car division was right for him.
Three-plus seasons was all it took for him to win his first national championship in IMCA’s fastest growing class.
“I had a weekly drag racing background and hadn’t even been to a dirt track before we went to Heart O’ Texas Speedway four years ago to watch the races,” the Corsicana driver said. “The Sprint Cars were there that night, they caught my attention and I knew right then that was what I wanted to race.”
Eight of his 11 feature wins came at Kennedale Speedway Park, where Thomas repeated as track champion. He also paced Allstar Performance Texas State standings while picking up single checkers at Sabine Motor Speedway, RPM Speedway and Lone Star Speedway.
The season-opening victory at Kilgore paid a hefty $1,200 and made Thomas the winner of back-to-back Sprint Smackdown specials at Lone Star.
It also proved to be Thomas’ only win in his first 14 starts of 2017. He collected another eight top-five finishes before finally getting win number two in late April.
“You kind of get down on yourself after starting so well and then not winning for a while,” he admitted. “Once we did, we got on a roll. I told myself to just keep rolling and keep the momentum up. It all started coming together for us. Then it seemed like everything started going our way.”
Thomas returned to Heart O’ Texas and ran second in an Elite Non-Wing Sprint Series show, a finish he said was just as satisfying as a win. A shock builder by profession, he continued making minor set-up adjustments that paid off with nine wins over the last three months of the season.
“The Lone Star race at the beginning of the season was big for us because we’d won it the year before,” he said. “By June, the tracks were getting the way I like them and I could run right up against the wall. We wanted to win the last race of the year at Kennedale (the Summit Racing Equipment Showdown on Oct. 7) and we were able to do that, too.”
Fifth in the 2015 national points race and third last year, Thomas is also appreciative of joining fellow Texans Jason Howell, John Ricketts and Chad Wilson, as well as Oklahoman Andy Shouse in earning the highest IMCA RaceSaver championship.
“To be able to have progressed as well as we have and win the national championship in our third full season is awesome,” he said. “And to be in that group of drivers that has won a national championship is amazing.”
Additional Top Fives-18
HIS CREW: Parents Robert and Vicki, girlfriend Shelbie Goad, Trevor Goad, Michael Hoots and Randall Cartey.
HIS SPONSORS: Thomas Disposal, Valvoline Express Care and O’Reilly Auto Parts, all of Corsicana; 517 Designs of Whitney; Allard Racing Engines of Ennis; Best Deal Services of Kennedale; Schoenfeld Headers of Van Buren, Ark.; DSR Fuel Pumps of Indianapolis, Ind.; CSI Shocks of Brownsburg, Ind.; and Keizer Aluminum Wheels of Orange City, Iowa.