BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 16, 2012) – Antron Brown will start Sunday’s championship eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

The lofty position, the second pole in past three races for his Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster, is why he makes some personal sacrifices to be a professional race car driver.

One thing he has to forego is being able to be in his native New Jersey to spend Father’s Day with his dad, Al, or at home in Pittsboro, Ind., with his three children.

“You know, sometime you have to spend Father’s Day away from the family, but when Father’s Day comes around it makes you think more about being away from them.”

But that’s the life he chose and the one his father and uncle, Andre Brown, prepared him for when they nurtured him to have a solid work ethic and a love for racing when he joined them at various New Jersey dragstrips when they raced.

“I always think about my dad and my uncle Andre. They always have been close and dear to me throughout my life. They showed me so many things about life and mechanical aspects of things that have helped me in racing.

“They made me and my older brother (Carlos) the men we are today.”

Brown, ranked third in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series standings, grew up with his father and uncle drag racing. It is something they continue to do regularly.

“I wouldn’t be in the place I am today without them and grandpop,” he said of his grandfather, Albert S. Brown, who died in 1981. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without those three guys.”

And now he has his own children that he has to explain why he won’t be home Sunday.

“You always try to make things better for them and hope they understand why I won’t be home. They love me and I love them to death. When we’re on the phone and they say ‘I miss you daddy,’ that touches my heart.

“Father’s Day holds a big, special place in my heart. My dad, uncle and Grandpop will be riding on my shoulders on Sunday.”

Brown and other fathers on the Aaron’s/Matco team will be able to share in the delight assistant crew chief Brad Mason will enjoy by having his wife, Amy, and their 2 ½-year-old daughter Kylie spend Sunday with the team.

“Having Kylie here will mean a lot,” Mason said. “It will be our first Father’s Day together. When I can look over and see her while we’re working on the car definitely makes the day go by easier, for sure.”

Brown and Mason hope they can look at Kyle in the winner’s circle late Sunday afternoon.

No. 1 qualifier: Antron Brown (3.814 sec., 323.12 mph)

ANTRON BROWN, Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools dragster
Ranked No. 3 in Top Fuel points
Session 1: 3.892 sec., 319.75 mph
Session 2: 3.814, 323.12
Session 3: 4.182, 213.91
Session 4: 3.843, 319.45
2011 AT BRISTOL: Qualified No. 5; lost in final to Larry Dixon
CAREER AT BRISTOL: Wins 0; runner-ups 1 (2011); poles 2 (2010, 2012)

Sunday: Eliminations, Noon

Sunday: High 81, 50 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms late afternoon through evening

Eliminations: 5 p.m. (ET) Sunday (delayed)