Brown’s Matco team produces 300th win for Don Schumacher as DSR sweeps nitro titles in NHRA Las Vegas Nationals
LAS VEGAS (April 2, 2017) – Antron Brown grew up and went to school in New Jersey and now lives near Indianapolis with his family.
The three-time NHRA world champion who won the last two prestigious titles might want to buy a vacation home in Las Vegas.
Brown’s celebration string at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway now extends to the last four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events at the track. The long-time Toyota driver clinched the 2015 Top Fuel championship at the fall Las Vegas race, won the 2016 spring event, clinched his third world championship at the 2016 Toyota Nationals and won the Las Vegas Nationals trophy Sunday when he defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the final round that also gave DSR its 300th event title.
“When I think about Vegas, it’s like coming home,” he said. “It has been very good to us. It seems like big things happen here. Vegas has been a crucial turning point at the beginning of the season for us and obviously when we come back for the Toyota Nationals in the fall the focus is on winning championships and we’ve been fortunate to clinch here two years in a row.”
Brown also became the first Top Fuel driver to win at least one race in 10 consecutive seasons.
“That’s a testament to the team we’ve got here. It’s not just our Matco Toyota team, but it’s everyone back in the DSR shop. There are a lot of people that make this thing work with their blood, sweat and tears and that’s what makes something like this possible.”
DSR entered 2017 with 293 NHRA event titles and it seemed inevitable to happen sometime this year in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. But not even the most optimistic at DSR expected it to happen in the fourth race of the 24-event Mello Yello Series season.
That’s what happened Sunday in Las Vegas, when Tommy Johnson Jr. and Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T team won its first Funny Car title of the year for DSR’s 299th that was followed by Brown’s win.
The 68th double-up of nitro titles by DSR at the same race since 2003 was also the third time in four NHRA races this year when DSR won both Top Fuel and Funny Car titles.
Coincidentally, the same teams earned DSR its 199th and 200th wins nearly four years ago in Florida; Johnny Gray was in what is now the Make-A-Wish Funny Car sponsored by his sister Terry Chandler and Brown was at the wheel of the Matco dragster.
The first win by DSR was when team owner Don Schumacher drove and owned a Funny Car in 1970 and the joy has not diminished after 299 more.
“I never imagined I’d win my first Wally let alone 300,” he said during a joyful celebration in the winner’s circle with Johnson and Brown.
“It’s not because of Don Schumacher, it’s because we have the best drivers and crew chiefs in the business and winning contributions from everyone at DSR from the fabrication and machine shops to our management, hospitality, marketing, public relations and social media teams.”
DSR leaves Las Vegas with the top three spots in Top Fuel but a switch was made at the top with eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher passing teammate Leah Pritchett with Brown in third. Each of the DSR drivers have won at least one title this year.
Brown also won the Las Vegas title last spring with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald.
“It started out as a very challenging weekend because we had something that had been plaguing us, but the Matco Tools/U.S. Army boys just went to work,” said Brown, who won 39 of his 46 Top Fuel titles and six of his 16 Pro Stock Motorcycle titles with DSR.
“Today, it was tough battles. In the second round against (Steve) Torrence, in the semis against my teammate Leah (Pritchett) – those guys and her are doing a phenomenal job this year. And Tony, those Army boys kicked our tails in Gainesville (two weeks ago in the final round).
“When you race two of your teammates, you know you’ve got a battle on your hands because we all have the same quality parts and pieces that Don provides for us. So when you go up against them, you’ve got to throw everything at it. Especially Tony, he hasn’t won eight championships for nothing, believe me. He knows how to race, how to get wins.
“But Brian and Mark and all of our boys had to push hard. We qualified eighth this weekend and to get that win today was pretty spectacular. I feel like I just won my first race, that’s how tough the competition is this year.”
The Mello Yello Series is off for two weeks before returning for the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals near Houston. to start the first three-race swing of the Mello Yello schedule.
QUALIFYING TOP FUEL
Winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors), 3.720 sec., 327.03
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; assistant: Brad Mason
Qualified: No. 8
First round: BROWN (3.752, 325.53 mph) def. Scott Palmer (5.501, 125.27)
Second round: BROWN (3.822, 318.24) def. Steve Torrence (4.035, 276.41)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.797, 320.89) def. Leah Pritchett (3.919, 311.20)
Final: BROWN (3.747, 321.04) def. Tony Schumacher (3.809, 325.14)
FRIDAY: 3.794 sec., 319.90 mph, (Session 1); 4.277, 190.03, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.793, 321.88, (Session 3); 3.792, 321.27, (Session 4)
2016 Las Vegas 1: Qualified No. 3, won in final round over Troy Buff
2016 Las Vegas 2: Qualified No. 4, lost in semifinals to J.R. Todd
Career at Las Vegas 1: Wins 3 (2011, 2016, 2017); Runner-ups 3 (2013, 2012, 2008, 2001-PSM); Poles 3 (2014, 2013, 2010,
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Official after Las Vegas 1; 4 of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 382 —–
- LEAH PRITCHETT (2) 376 -6
- ANTRON BROWN (1) 357 -25
- Doug Kalitta 301 -81
- Brittany Force 258 -124
- Steve Torrence 251 -131
- Clay Millican 187 -195
- Troy Coughlin Jr. 176 -206
- Terry McMillen 164 -218
- Scott Palmer 148 -236