COMMERCE, Ga. The saying all good things must come to an end rings true for Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team after suffering a rare first round loss during the NHRA Southern Nationals on Sunday.
The Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald had not dropped out of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competition in the opening round since the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in 2010 (Shawn Langdon).
The Matco Tools dragster had strong qualifying efforts, placing them fifth in the 16-car field and pitting them against Doug Kalitta for the opening round of eliminations on a 100-degree Atlanta Dragway track. It is the second longest round-one winning streak in Top Fuel behind Tony Schumacher’s 35 from 2007-’09.
“We went out there and the track looked good and our whole Matco team put their heads down and focused,” said Brown. “Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) said they were going to run a 3.82 or 3.83 and we got out there and the car just got a little bit aggressive.”
The Matco Tools dragster was out in front of opponent Doug Kalitta before losing traction before half-track as Kalitta went by for the win. Brown is now 16-7 in his career against Kalitta and currently ranks third in the NHRA Full Throttle standings.
“It didn’t wear any clutch,” Brown said. “When it doesn’t wear any clutch it just makes your car aggressive early and that’s what it did. It started spinning a little bit and I was on the right edge of the groove also so that didn’t help at all either. A combination of all those things happening just didn’t make it a good scenario.
“This is just a testament to how strong this class is right now. You have to race Doug Kalitta first round. He’s a tough competitor and title contender and his car ran a really good lap and they do that.
“It’s just a tough break. We were pressing really hard because we want to race really hard. We had 33 consecutive first round wins in a row and we just wanted to keep that going. It’s a bummer.”
Brown and the talented Matco Tools team won’t hang their heads in disappointment for long though. The NHRA Full Throttle Series will head to the Midwest in two weeks for the NHRA Summernationals at Heartland Park Topeka, May 18-20, a track Brown has never won at.
“We just have to go back, regroup and go to Topeka and we’re going to race hard,” Brown said. “We’re going to lick our wounds and go to the next race and it’s going to make us even more hungry. We really wanted to get this win in Atlanta but we’ll go to Topeka hungry and see if we can pull that one off.”
Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Qualifying position: No. 5
Round one: Kalitta (3.895 sec., 318.02 mph) def. BROWN 4.019, 281.07
Full Throttle Points Standings
(Unofficial, updated after seven of 23 events)
1. Tony Schumacher, 604
2. Spencer Massey, 579
3. Antron Brown, 574
4. Morgan Lucas, 536
5. Steve Torrence, 467
6t. Doug Kalitta, 385
6t. Shawn Langdon, 385
8. Bob Vandergriff, 352
9. Brandon Bernstein, 316
10. Clay Millican, 299