Monday, July 9, 2018

"Oldest Pole-sitter In Daytona History" Mark Thompson Born - July 9, 1951

July 9, 1951
 Mark Thompson
Born in Cartersville, Georgia, USA.
Mark is an American stock car racing driver, pilot, and businessman. He currently competes part-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 66 Ford Fusion for MBM Motorsports, and part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 13 car for MBM Motorsports. At age 66, Thompson is currently the oldest driver competing in the Cup series.

Thompson enlisted in the United States Air Force as a warrant officer, flying helicopters in the Vietnam War. Late in the 1970s, Thompson founded Phoenix Air as a parachuting school, which later evolved into an air transport company with ties to fifteen U.S. and foreign government agencies, carrying government workers who had been infected with diseases. The company had garnered attention for transporting the Americans who had contracted the Ebola virus disease from Liberia to the U.S. Phoenix Air also provides tactical electronic warfare training services to the Air Force, the Air National Guard and the Navy.

In 1993 and 1994, Thompson made three NASCAR Winston Cup Series attempts with Henley Gray, driving the No. 62 and No. 86, respectively. He failed to qualify in his first attempt at Darlington Raceway, but made the second race at Pocono Raceway after qualifying 38th. However, after eight laps, he retired from the race due to an engine failure, and finished 39th. In 1993, Thompson failed to qualify for the Pepsi 400 after not making an attempt. The next year, he joined Mike Brandt in the No. 66 Ford, but withdrew from the Daytona 500.

On Feb 13, 2015, during qualifying for the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 in 2015, the 63-year-old Thompson became the oldest pole-sitter in Daytona International Speedway history after recording a lap speed of 187.336 miles per hour. A longtime ARCA Series veteran, it was Thompson’s fourth career pole, and his first in 18 years. His previous poles all came at Michigan International Speedway, twice in 1996 and once in 1997.

“Winning the pole at Daytona is a big deal,” Thompson, driver of the No. 11 Phoenix Air-Ken Schrader Racing Toyota, said in a DIS media release. “It’s special. There’s probably not another place I’d rather win the pole than here.”

In 2015, Thompson made his Xfinity Series debut in the Winn-Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, driving the No. 13 for MBM Motorsports, and qualified 31st, while finishing 27th, two laps down.

In 2017, Thompson joined Premium Motorsports to drive the No. 15 Chevrolet for the Alabama 500 at Talladega, Thompson's first Cup event in 25 years.

In 2018, Thompson raced in the 2018 Daytona 500 becoming the oldest driver at 66 years of age to drive in the event. He finished 22nd in what would become his final race in any series.

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