BROWNSBURG, Ind. – This week is one Antron Brown certainly will remember. It became filled with emotion several days before he starts to race Friday in the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA Super Nationals.
At the end of last week, Brown and his family drove from their home in Pittsboro, Ind., to New Jersey to visit family en route to nearby Englishtown, N.J., where he will race this weekend.
Brown and his wife of 12 years, Billie Jo, flew Saturday night from Philadelphia to Charlotte, N.C., where the native of Chesterfield, N.J., spent Sunday visiting with guests of sponsors Aaron’s, Toyota, U.S. Army and Freightliner before the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
His primary mission at Charlotte, however, was to drive his Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster alongside the U.S. Army dragster driven by Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in a side-by-side burnout on the oval track’s pit road.
“Doing that burnout at the Coca-Cola 600 was exciting and we a lot of fun, but what made it real special was that we were able to help celebrate Memorial Day with a lot of soldiers,” Brown said. “We talked to Army Strong soldiers who were there and it was a reminder of how lucky we are to live in America and drive these cars.
“It was an emotional day and this coming weekend will be emotional when I go back to the track where my dream started. I’m going where as a little kid I’d play in the sand under the (dragstrip) grandstands while my dad and uncle were racing.”
Brown has raced professionally at Englishtown since 1998 when he rode an NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle. He won Englishtown titles twice on two wheels but despite advancing to the championship round of Top Fuel in 2009 and 2010, he has yet to win a dragster title at the track.
The former star athlete and graduate of Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus, N.J., and Mercer Junior College can only imagine what that post-race celebration would be like.
“I’ve been blessed to have won as many times as I have but it would be hard to top winning in Top Fuel here and having my family on the stage with me,” said Brown, 36, who has won 32 NHRA titles including 16 in Top Fuel.
Brown with crew chiefs Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi have won one title this season (Phoenix) and advanced to the championship round four times.
The Matco team is third in the NHRA Full Throttle standings.
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
In 2011: Lost in second round to Larry Dixon
Career: Wins 2 (2002 and 2005, Pro Stock Motorcycle; runner-ups 2 (2009, 2010, Top Fuel); poles 3 (2008, Top Fuel; 2001 and 2005, PSM)
2012 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
Antron Brown 3rd 1 3 1 0 17-7
Career Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
Antron Brown 32* 34 30 2 411-213
FRIDAY: Qualifying, 3:45 and 6:15 p.m.
SATURDAY: Qualifying, noon and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.
SATURDAY: Qualifying, 4:30-6 p.m. (ET, delayed) on ESPN
SUNDAY: Championship eliminations, 4:30-7 p.m. (ET, delayed) on ESPN2
2012 NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING STANDINGS
(through eight of 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. SPENCER MASSEY, 670
2. TONY SCHUMACHER, 658
3. ANTRON BROWN, 638
4. Morgan Lucas, 598
5. Steve Torrence, 527
6. Doug Kalitta, 452
7. Shawn Langdon, 420
8. David Grubnic, 405
9. Brandon Bernstein, 399
10. Bob Vandergriff, 384