ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. – Losing in the first round certainly wasn’t how Antron Brown wanted the annual visit to his hometown track to end.

“Man, that’s drag racing,” Brown said. “One year you can be a hero and the next year you can be a zero. This year, we’ll take our bumps and bruises and move on to the next race in Bristol (Tenn.) in two weeks.

“We’ll collect ourselves and get ready for that race.”

Although Brown and his Matco Tools team lost in the first round for the second time in the past three races, the scores of family and friends from around his nearby hometown of Chesterfield, N.J., would never considered him to be a zero.

Perhaps the most popular driver in the Top Fuel category, Brown was able to hold on to his third-place ranking in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

The early exit could be attributed to the first qualifying session on Friday when Brown lost traction and smoked the tires. That contributed to a subpar qualifying effort that produced a No. 9 qualifying spot, which meant he did not have choice of lanes in the opening round.

“We went out and gave it all we had but for some reason that (right) lane didn’t produce what we needed it to produce,” Brown said. “We were trying to run hard, it just didn’t take it.

“This is a tough one. Lane choice makes a big difference. We have to go back to basics and do what we do. This was a tough weekend for us, for sure.

“We always find the time to spend with family and friends, win or lose. There’s no upside to our Sunday.

“The only good news was we qualified and made the show on Sunday. We gave it our shot, it just didn’t stick. The tide will turn.”

The following are race results for Brown:

Antron Brown, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 9
Round 1: Doug Kalitta (3.811 sec., 318.77 mph) def. BROWN (5.774, 120.07)

1. Spencer Massey, 753; 2. Tony Schumacher, 719; 3. Antron Brown, 671; 4. Morgan Lucas, 657; 5. Steve Torrence, 644; 6. Doug Kalitta, 508; 7. Brandon Bernstein, 493; 8. Shawn Langdon, 479; 9. David Grubnic, 437; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 416

June 15-17, NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.