BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Antron Brown was at Don Schumacher Racing headquarters on Monday meeting with his Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster team.
It wasn’t a strategy session or discussion on how to approach this weekend’s Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at Concord, N.C.
The New Jersey native and Pittsboro, Ind. resident frequently visits the race shop, and this mostly was a chance to hang out with his crew.
“It’s like family time. I just like seeing my brothers,” Brown said.
“I come in a lot to see what the boys are doing or to have lunch with them, to see if they might need some help. I like being at the shop.”
Close communications with his crew chiefs and Matco Tools crew could be a reason why the team has advanced to three of this season’s four national event championship rounds, winning the event title in the second race and taken over the Top Fuel points lead for the second time this year.
“Leading the points is always a good deal, but it’s so early in the season,” he said of a schedule that has 19 of 23 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events remaining. “We have to stay hungry, and I know we will.”
Heading to the unique format Friday-Sunday at the four-lane zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway comes at a time when the event’s novelty offers a refreshing change from traditional two-wide drag races.
“We always get excited to go to the Four-Wide. It’s an all-out battle royal. Yeah, it’s fun but we’ll go there and attack it like any other Full Throttle race.”
Brown, who won the second race of the season on Feb. 19 near Phoenix, has an 11-3 record in championship eliminations rounds this year. He only has been beaten by DSR teammates Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey.
Massey has defeated Brown twice in final rounds this season including on April 1 for the event title at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Last fall at zMAX, Brown beat Massey for the championship trophy.
But don’t think for a minute there’s a DSR rivalry brewing.
“No way,” Brown said. “You need to have a grudge against somebody for a rivalry to start and that’s not going to happen at DSR.
“It’s just good competition between me and Spencer and Tony. We go up against each other because we’re all going rounds and doing our jobs.
“There’s no grudge; we all just want to win.”
BROWN AT zMAX: Wins (1), Fall 2011; runner-ups (1), 2008
The fifth of 23 events on the Full Throttle tour is the most unique of the season.
zMAX is the only dragstrip with four racing lanes and each lane will be used for each of our qualifying sessions (Friday and Saturday) and championship eliminations on Sunday.
The 16-car eliminations ladder in each of the three major professional categories will match as follows: Race A (qualifiers 1, 8, 9, 16), Race B (qualifiers 4, 5, 12, 13), Race C (qualifiers 2, 7, 10, 15) and Race D (qualifiers 3, 6, 11, 14)
Lane choice for eliminations goes to the driver with the quickest E.T., then the second-quickest, and so on.
The first two drivers in each elimination heat to cross the finish line advance to the second round and final; In the final round, teams will finish in the order they cross the finish line (barring any red-light starts), with winner, runner-up and two semifinalists in that order.
FULL THROTTLE SCHEDULE:
FRIDAY: Qualifying, 2, 5 p.m.
SATURDAY: Qualifying, Noon, 3 p.m.
SUNDAY: Eliminations, Noon
Saturday: 5 p.m. (ET).
Sunday: 7 p.m. (ET).