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Matco’s Brown gets 30th pole of NHRA career at Topeka, but knows winning rounds Sunday is the ultimate goal

TOPEKA, Kan. – Antron Brown’s Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster is the No. 1 qualifier for the third time in four years at Heartland Park Topeka.

That’s a lofty accomplishment but it pales when compared to winning the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series title at the track, and that’s something Brown and crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald haven’t done.

“It’s great to get No. 1 and make four good runs in qualifying but then you could go out and lose first round on Sunday,” said Brown, who won his 19th Top Fuel pole and 30th of his NHRA career. “We don’t want that to describe how our trip to Topeka ended up.”

He couldn’t explain what has derailed his path to Topeka’s victory lane, and he is focused on doing what needs to be done to get there Sunday.

“On race day you want to have confidence and go out on that first run and get it in the groove. That’s the run that really counts – that first run on Sunday to get you started. That sets the tone for how the rest of Sunday will go.

“You have to have one good round after another and focus on each one.”

Brown, who has won one of his 32 career titles this year, will start the race ranked second in points behind teammate Tony Schumacher, who he could face in the semifinals should both win their first two rounds.

Brown’s first-round opponent will be former DSR teammate Cory McClenathan. Brown wants to rebound from the last event two weeks ago when he lost in the first round for the first time in 33 NHRA events (Indianapolis 2010).

The following are final qualifying results and other notes:

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

Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Final qualifying position: No. 1
First round opponent: No. 16 Cory McClenathan

QUALIFYING RUNS
FRIDAY
Session 1: 3.865 sec., 316.01 mph
Session 2: 3.797, 324.98 (track record)
SATURDAY
Session 3: 3.848, 319.67
Session 4: 4.234, 313.58

ANTRON AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA
In 2011: Qualified No. 9; lost in second round to Tony Schumacher
Career: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 3 (2009-10, ’12)

ANTRON’S STATISTICS
(Updated through May 19)
2012 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2nd 1 3 1 0 16-6
2011 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
3rd 6 2 3 0 50-16
Career Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
32* 34 30** 2 410-212
*(16 TF/16 PSM) (19 TF/11 PSM)

FULL THROTTLE NITRO SCHEDULE
Sunday: 11 a.m. (CT), eliminations

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

WEATHER.COM FORECAST
Sunday: High 80, 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms

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