SOMONA, Calif. – Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team didn’t have the typical Sunday afternoon drive en route to their second win in a row during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Northern California’s Napa Valley.
It was a tough eliminations ladder for Brown to climb, but he conquered some of the biggest names in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series as he tied his hero and NHRA legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits with 35 career wins in pro categories.
“This Matco Tools dragster is just running phenomenal,” Brown said. “It’s easy to drive and it’s a pleasure just to be in it. The competition was brutal today.
“It was cruel the ladder that we had. We just kept our head down and kept digging. That’s what you have to do. You can’t worry about who you’re racing you just have to take it one round at a time.”
Brown, along with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, did just that as they ousted Steve Torrence in the opening round, Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the second round and Brandon Bernstein in the semi’s before meeting another teammate, Spencer Massey, in the final.
Brown’s winning time of 3.814 seconds at 318.02 mph enabled him to win by 0.0056 of a second over Massey’s 3.826 at 323.50. It was the first time in four tries this season that Brown beat Massey for an event title.
The victory moved Brown into a tie with Massey for first in Full Throttle points, and each driver has won a series best four titles through 14 of 23 events.
“In the first round we had to face Steve Torrence,” Brown said of the fourth-ranked driver in points. “It tells you how hard it is right now to win just one round of drag racing in Top Fuel.
“Our Matco boys just made really great decisions each and every round and the car performed flawlessly.”
The new chassis built in-house at the DSR headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind. has not lost a round of racing since its debut last Sunday in Denver, Colo. Massey, who set the track speed record several times, also was in a new DSR racecar.
With the second Wally trophy of the three-race Western Swing in his collection, Brown was questioned about the possibility of becoming the first driver to sweep three Swing races twice. He did it in 2009.
“We will talk about sweeping if we can get to the final round of the race next weekend in Seattle. But first we have to qualify.”
Event winner: Antron Brown
No. 1 qualifier: Doug Kalitta 3.785 sec., 321.65 mph
Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Qualified: No. 4
First round: BROWN (3.782 mph, 322.88 mph) def. Steve Torrence (redlight, 3.788, 323.66)
Second round: BROWN (3.825, 321.12) def. Tony Schumacher (4.465, 192.60)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.817, 320.36) def. Brandon Bernstein (5.126, 142.03)
Final: BROWN (3.814, 318.02) def. Spencer Massey (3.826, 323.50)
Session 1: 4.487 sec., 175.52 mph
Session 2: 3.799, 322.27
Session 3: 5.021, 143.98
Session 4: 3.871, 315.12
NHRA FULL THROTTLE TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(through Aug. 29, 2012; Sonoma, Calif.; * clinched spots in Countdown)
1. *ANTRON BROWN, 1174
1. *SPENCER MASSEY, 1174
3. *TONY SCHUMACHER, 1048
4. Steve Torrence, 984
5. Doug Kalitta, 828
6. Morgan Lucas, 796
7. Shawn Langdon, 741
8. Brandon Bernstein, 734
9. David Grubnic, 684
10. Bob Vandergriff, 601
NEXT FULL THROTTLE EVENT
Aug. 3-5, NHRA Northwest Nationals, Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash.