Brown, Matco team miss opportunity at Gateway near St. Louis but championship veterans not giving up on fourth NHRA world title
MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 1, 2017) – Antron Brown knows he let an important round get away from him Sunday in the NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis, but the three-time world champion also knows what it will take to win the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship for a third straight year.
Brown and the Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” led by crew chief Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason advanced to the semifinals at Gateway Motorsports Park and faced points leader Steve Torrence in the round.
A win over Torrence would have cut Brown’s deficit by 20 points and an event title could have narrowed the gap by another 20.
But Brown’s time of 3.711 seconds at 331.12 mph narrowly lost to Torrence’s 3.689 (330.72).
The results kept Brown fourth in the Countdown to the Championship standings but Torrence was able to pad his lead over Brown by 40 points and will carry a 94-point lead over the two-time reigning champion when the series resumes in two weeks near Dallas.
“That semi-final round was a big one and we all knew it,” said Brown, who owns five Top Fuel trophies from Gateway. “We went up there and we gave it all we had. The good part is we’re learning. Our car is running good and we’re running consistent. We had back-to-back great runs. We have three races left and the last race is points and half. So we’re going to be right in the thick of things.”
Brown and Torrence are close friends and Brown knows Torrence and the CAPCO Contractors team has a head of steam.
“The CAPCO car is running strong and Steve has been doing a great job of driving. They’re doing exactly what they have to do to win a championship. We’ve been there the last two years doing the same thing.
“Our game is elevating at the right time. It’s just these close races that bite you. We’re going to go into this next race and give it all we’ve got and we’re not going to leave anything behind.”
The Matco Tools team once again is sporting pink for breast cancer awareness month in October.
The special edition Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” pink scheme dragster carries the names of more than 400 people who have fought or are fighting breast cancer.
To date, Matco Tools has donated more than $787,000 to breast cancer research and awareness. Matco is once again offering Tools for the Cause pink merchandise, in which Matco will donate 15 percent of the purchase price to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
“Every year when we carry the names of people who are fighting or have fought breast cancer, it is an extra special time for us,” Brown said. “My family has been affected by it as have so many families so this car is special to all of us.”
The following are results from the Midwest Nationals:
Event winner: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors)
No. 1 qualifier: Clay Millican (Doug Stringer Racing) 3.631 sec.-world record, 330.39 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason
First round: BROWN (3.721 sec., 328.94 mph) def. Terry McMillen (4.332, 186.56)
Second round: BROWN (3.692, 331.12) def. Tony Schumacher (4.218, 208.26)
Semifinals: Steve Torrence (3.689, 330.72) def. BROWN (3.711, 331.12)
Qualified: No. 6
FRIDAY: 3.759 sec., 325.45 mph, (Session 1); 4.336, 180.28, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.736, 329.34, (Session 3); 3.693, 330.55, (Session 4)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 4th 21 4 6 3 7 0 2 0 47-16
CAREER 378 65* 53 77 100 80 49 3 670-310
* 49 TF/16 PSB
Career best time, speed: 3.667 (2017, Phoenix); 333.16 mph (2017, Topeka)
BY THE NUMBERS
Last event: Sept. 22-24, Reading, Pa.: Qualified No. 8, lost in semifinals to Brittney Force
A year ago at Gateway: Qualified No. 12, lost in first round to Shawn Langdon
Career at Gateway: Wins 5 (2009, 2012-15), Runner-ups 1 (2005-PSM), Poles 1 (2012)
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official standings through St. Louis; 21 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- Steve Torrence (8) 2376 —–
- Doug Kalitta (1) 2334 -42
- Brittany Force (2) 2293 -83
- ANTRON BROWN (4) 2282 -94
- Clay Millican (1) 2235 -141
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 2234 -142
- LEAH PRITCHETT (4) 2224 -152
- Terry McMillen 2115 -261
- Scott Palmer 2105 -271
- Shawn Langdon 2100 -276