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Top Fuel points leader Brown, Matco Tools team have map to winner’s circle at classic Atlanta track

BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Antron Brown doesn’t believe close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Getting close to winning an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing title is OK by him.

It’s not like he and his Matco Tools Top Fuel team enjoy being runner-up like they have been four times in six races this season. They sure would like to have won more than once in championship rounds this year.

But Brown along with crew chiefs Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi know that season championships are determined by points and not event titles.

“Of course we always want to win, but you can’t win unless you get to the final round, and we’ve done that a lot,” said Brown, whose team was runner-up Sunday in the NHRA Spring Nationals near Houston.

“We smoked the tires earlier than I can remember us doing that before. But we earned good points being runner-up.”

“Runner-up” hasn’t been in Brown’s vocabulary at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga., where this weekend’s NHRA Southern Nationals will be held. Brown has won 32 NHRA national event titles in his career and four of them were earned at the track about 70 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Brown, 36, won the Atlanta Top Fuel title a year ago and in 2008, his rookie Top Fuel season. He also won a Pro Stock Motorcycle title there in 2006. He was, however, the PSM runner-up in 2003.

Atlanta Dragway was built in 1976 and originally intended as an airport. Brown grew up at New Jersey dragstrips watching his dad and uncle race and he loves the intimate, old-style nature of Atlanta.

“I’ve always considered it to be an East Coast track, an older track where guys like my dad and uncle raced,” he said. “It’s a track we visited often from Pro Stock Bike days to now.

“You get out there and everything is tight and close. The stands are right next to the racetrack. You get that sense of the great old tracks. It puts me back in my element – what I grew up around – and I feel real comfortable there.

“It brings back memories of how drag racing was.”

AT ATLANTA 2011
Qualified 7th; defeated Tony Schumacher in final round.

CAREER AT ATLANTA
Wins: 4 (2011 and 2008 in Top Fuel; 2006 and 2001 in Pro Stock Motorcycle)
Runner-ups: 1 (2003 PSM)
Poles: 1 (2006 PSM)

ANTRON BROWN STATISTICS
(Updated through Spring Nationals near Houston; 6th of 23 events)

2012 Pts W Rups Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 1 4 0 0 16-5

2011 Pts Ws Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
3rd 6 2 3 0 50-16

Career Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
32* 34 29 2 410-211
*(16 PSM)

2012 NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(Through six of 23 events; DSR drivers capitalized)

TOP FUEL
1. ANTRON BROWN, 535
2. SPENCER MASSEY, 523
3. Morgan Lucas, 505
4. TONY SCHUMACHER, 497
5. Shawn Langdon, 348
6. Steve Torrence, 343
7. Doug Kalitta, 313
8. Bob Vandergriff, Jr. 300
9. David Grubnic, 259
10. Clay Millican, 258

SOUTHERN NATIONALS NITRO SCHEDULE
Friday – 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m., qualifying
Saturday – 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., qualifying
Sunday – 11 a.m., championship eliminations

ON ESPN2
Qualifying: 7-9 p.m. ET, Saturday (delayed)
Eliminations: 7-10 p.m., ET, Sunday (delayed)

WEATHER.COM FORECAST
Friday: High of 90, partly cloudy
Saturday: High of 90, partly cloudy
Sunday: High of 92, partly cloudy

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