‘Crew chief’ Brown ready to swap back to driver role as Matco team heads to Route 66 near Chicago with memories of Terry Chandler
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 5, 2017) – In typical Brown family fashion, a weekend off from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for three-time Top Fuel champion Antron Brown doesn’t necessarily mean a weekend off from the dragstrip.
Brown traveled to National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio with his son, Anson, and played the role of crew chief on his son’s junior dragster.
“This is what we do,” Brown said. “We’re racers and I love being out here not only with my son but with all of the kids. This is the future of the sport out here and it’s just fun to see it all go down.”
But the two-time defending world champ is reflecting on the past with a heavy heart as Don Schumacher Racing and the NHRA community begin the second half of the season this weekend near Chicago.
Terry Chandler, who funded DSR Funny Cars for Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr., since 2014, lost her valiant fight with brain cancer on Tuesday afternoon. She was 65 when she died in Florida with family and loved ones at her side.
“I will always remember the smiles and laughter,” Brown said of Chandler, who received the NHRA Blaine Johnson Award in 2015 for her dedication to helping others.
“She helped us all through tough times and made us smile and laugh. God hug her tight because she hugged everyone around her that way.”
Brown and thousands of others will carry her memory throughout the rest of the 2017 season and beyond.
Brown also knows that she would not be happy with him if he focused on her and instead of racing this weekend during the 20th annual Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., where he has three event titles at the facility near Chicagoland Speedway.
“I absolutely love racing at Route 66,” he said. “When you roll out from underneath the tower the stands are so unique and it’s like you’re a gladiator going into the battle-royal. It’s just incredible.”
The Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason have been to five final rounds through 12 events this season.
“We’re plugging away at it,” Brown said. “Some of the finals haven’t gone our way but going rounds is important. The competition is just unbelievable right now. We’re halfway through the season and the top three are separated by four rounds of racing. We can trade spots each weekend.
“We just have to focus and take it one lap at a time like we always do. We can’t think about points or wins or anything like that. We just have to focus on getting down the track each and every lap and the rest will happen as it does.”
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster – 3x world champion
Last event (June 15), Norwalk, Ohio: Qualified No. 5, lost in second round to Leah Pritchett
A year ago at Chicago: Qualified No. 4, won in championship round over J.R. Todd
Career at Chicago: Wins 5 (2016, 2014, 2012, 2001*, 2000*); Runner-ups 2 (2009, 2002*);
Poles 2 (2009, 2015) *Pro Stock Motorcycle
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 3rd 12 2 3 2 5 0 1 0 26-10
CAREER 370 63* 50 76 98 80 48 3 649-304
* 47 TF/16 PSB
Best time, speed: 3.667 (2017, Phoenix); 333.16 mph (2017, Topeka)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official after Norwalk, Ohio; 12th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Steve Torrence (4) 1,071 —–
2. LEAH PRITCHETT (3) 1,021 -50
3. ANTRON BROWN (2) 990 -81
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 856 -215
5. Doug Kalitta 781 -290
6. Brittany Force (1) 734 -337
7. Clay Millican (1) 695 -376
8. Terry McMillen 477 -594
9. Troy Coughlin Jr. 464 -607
9. Scott Palmer 464 -607