Announced Thursday afternoon, Thomas will pair up with Mounce-Stout Motorsports to contest the full USAC national midget schedule and take aim at a long-awaited series title.
Thomas was the 2014 USAC national midget rookie-of-the-year and owns six career victories in 153 feature starts, but a championship on the tour has eluded him for a decade.
The Cullman, Ala., native’s career-best points finish with the USAC national midgets was third in 2015.
“I would like to win a midget championship,” noted Thomas, whose ride will carry his familiar No. 9 with sponsorship from Inferno Armor and Rockwell Security. “I came close before but just didn’t get it done. It’s the same thing on the sprint car side.
“I feel like putting yourself in the best position, with a team that has the same goals as you [do] and having the same understanding of what we need to do to get that done, goes a long way.”
Thomas is no stranger to the Mounce-Stout operation, having made nine starts with the team last year and posting a best effort of fourth at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway in June during Indiana Midget Week.
His most recent attempt to capture the USAC national midget crown, however, came in 2021 with a potent Petry Motorsports operation. Since then, Thomas has bounced around, but the performance of Mounce-Stout Motorsports’ equipment last summer stood out to him.
“I was just a fill-in guy here and there, but their stuff was always extremely fast,” said Thomas of the Mounce-Stout operation. “I also like the people who are involved with it too. In this day and age, that goes a long way with me, as far as the way things are run and the kind of people you are. If you’re going to spend the entire year with somebody, you just want it to all flow and for everybody to have the same goals and understanding of what needs to get done. They check all those boxes.
“If you can race with the right people at the right time, I feel like it’s worth your while [as a driver].”
Team co-owner Jay Mounce was always an interested observer of Thomas’ racing efforts, but after getting to work directly with him last year, sees the potential of his team with Thomas at the wheel.
“He has a lot of knowledge and he’s been around the sport long enough to understand what he needs to be successful, which is a little different than what our program has kind of been based around – more of a developmental type of deal,” Mounce explained. “He’s one of those guys who can be a national champion [if] given the right opportunity.”
Mounce-Stout Motorsports does have a USAC national midget win under its belt already, with Jacob Denney in 2022, but Mounce was still unsure even last year of the team’s true position against the sport’s heavyweights.
Having Thomas behind the wheel helped solidify, in the team owner’s mind, that they were indeed on the right track.
“Last year, we were able to see if he had any ideas or thoughts on not only making our program better as a whole, but also to just to [evaluate] where we’re at,” said Mounce of Thomas. “With younger kids, it’s harder to tell. Everybody’s competitive now and you don’t really know if you’re in that top-five percent of guys who need to be doing this for a living, essentially. He has enough experience, and he came in and hit the ground running.
“We were able to plug him in and just see if we were really as fast as we thought we were, and he did very well for us.”
Now that Thomas knows what the Mounce-Stout team is capable of, his focus has turned to the skills and situation necessary to put together a championship run.
Some of the most important intangibles, he tipped, are already in place.
“The work ethic is there, and the passion is there,” Thomas said. “I feel like that’s one of the only reasons I want to do it. I see the want-to and I see the potential of it as well. I have a good feeling about these guys, and I have a good feeling about the opportunity that’s ahead. If we do things right, and we all do our jobs at a high level, nothing says we can’t go win a championship and go win races.
“I feel like if we put good racecars on the track, and we stay on top of our duties as crew members and me as a driver, then it all comes down to whether I do my job or not,” he added. “I feel like I can, so we’ll just go from there and we’ll see.”
The NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series season starts April 26-27 at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway.
Great NEWS! We have taken the green flag and have officially launched our Race Face Digital Kickstarter crowdfunding. To make your pledge click on the button below. Pledges start at $10.