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Matco Tools’ Brown takes advantage of cool evening to land provisional pole with tune-up by crew chiefs Corradi, Oswald

TOPEKA, Kan. – Antron Brown and crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald love to make qualifying runs at Heartland Park Topeka. Now they just want to leave the track Sunday on a happy note for the first time.

The Matco Tools team set a track speed record of 324.98 mph late Friday night to get hold of the provisional Top Fuel Dragster pole in the Dollar General NHRA SummerNationals. If the time stands after Saturday’s last two qualifying sessions it would mark the third time in four years the team started Sunday eliminations from the No. 1 spot.

But the team has yet to leave Topeka with the big trophy.

“I love coming to Topeka,” said Brown, ranked third in points with one event title this year in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

“We always do well in qualifying, but now we have to close the deal.”

His elapsed time of 3.797 seconds was the only run Friday below 3.8 seconds.

The 36-year-old New Jersey native living in Pittsboro, Ind., is on the verge of winning the 30th pole of his career but first in 11 NHRA events.

“It’s been awhile since our Matco Tools boys have been No. 1,” said Brown, whose last pole came last season at Reading, Pa., in the 19th of 22 events.

“It’s not for lack of work. The (Top Fuel) class keeps getting tougher, so we have to keep digging deeper. It feels great any time you can take a swing and land it.

“You have to make some power to get through that clutch. We went out there trying to get after it. Brian told me it was a little lazy coming off the starting line. We ran a (3.79), but the car did it from 150 feet through halftrack. That’s where it ran strong.”

Several track clean-up delays in the opening session delayed the second session by about 90 minutes until 9 p.m. By then the temperature cooled greatly from an afternoon high of 89 to 77 degrees.

In addition to Brown’s performance, DSR teammate Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army dragster is qualified fifth. Spencer Massey holds the 12th spot for his FRAM/Prestone team.

Saturday’s last two qualifying sessions are scheduled for afternoon when the forecast calls for high 80s, and drivers doubt performances will approach those of Friday night.

“Saturday will be all about getting ready for eliminations on Sunday,” said Brown, who ranked third in points between leader Schumacher and Massey.

“The No. 1 spot is important but what’s most important is qualifying in the top half of (16-car) field so you get to pick that lane you want in the first round on Sunday. We know we are solid in the field so Mark and Brian can work Saturday on seeing what our Matco’s car wants when it’s hot.”

The following are qualifying results and other notes:

TOP FUEL
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Antron Brown (3.797 sec., 324.98 mph)

Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
FRIDAY
Session 1: 3.865 sec., 316.01 mph
Session 2: 3.797, 324.98 (track record)

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 5
FRIDAY
Session 1: 8.295 sec., 79. 57 mph
Session 2: 3.818, 321.42

Spencer Massey, FRAM/Prestone dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 12
FRIDAY
Session 1: 3.916 sec., 313.95 mph
Session 2: 7.765, 74.95

FULL THROTTLE NITRO SCHEDULE
Saturday: 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., qualifying,
Sunday: 11 a.m., eliminations

ON ESPN (ET)
Saturday: 5 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 7 p.m., eliminations

WEATHER.COM FORECAST
Saturday: High 87, wind to 30 mph, 10 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 80, 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms
About Matco Tools
Matco Tools manufactures, distributes and services premium quality automotive equipment, tools, and tool storage for the professional technician. The company has more than 60 years of national brand experience in the automotive equipment industry and a vast product line of more than 13,000 of the highest quality, innovative tools and accessories. The company’s franchise offering has no franchise, royalty, or advertising fees. Initial corporate and ongoing local training create and build outstanding value for the franchisee’s business. For more information on Matco Tools products or franchise opportunities, visit www.matcotools.com.

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