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Matco crew chiefs rely on history, prepared for unexpected when eliminations heat up for Brown in Route 66 Nationals

JOLIET, Ill. – Matco Tools crew chief Brian Corradi appreciates having at least one qualifying session in midday to help prepare for Sunday’s daytime championship eliminations.

But this weekend’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals near Chicago scheduled qualifying sessions for 5 and 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. At most NHRA events, the quickest runs are in the evening and at least one is held early in the afternoon.

With a forecast for a high in the low 90s, Corradi and crew chief Mark Oswald for Antron Brown are prepared for the hottest conditions they’ve faced this weekend.

“We’ll rely on our past experiences,” Corradi said. “We go back to where track conditions and everything else were similar. We’ve been monitoring what’s going on with the track at 11 in the morning. If there’s more sun than there was this morning then it will be a real tricky day for everybody out here.”

Brown and his team earned the provisional pole on Friday and held it until Saturday night’s fourth and final session when the Matco team lost it to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher.

Schumacher’s time of 3.763 seconds (324.83 mph) reset the track elapsed time record that Brown tied the night before with a run of 3.773 seconds.

Brown was trying to win his third pole in the past four NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events. The Matco dragster had an engine problem in the third session and lost traction in the fourth.

Brown fell to the No. 2 position and will face a tough challenger in Morgan Lucas to open eliminations. It will be the third time they have met this season. Brown has won two, and Lucas’ lone victory over Brown was for the title at Houston.

The following are qualifying results from Saturday’s sessions and other notes:

TOP FUEL
No. 1 qualifier: Tony Schumacher, 3.763 (track record), 324.83 mph

Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Final qualifying position: No. 2
Round 1 opponent: Morgan Lucas

SATURDAY
Session 3: 6.689 sec., 99.46 mph
Session 4: 6.598, 99.54
FRIDAY
Session 1: 3.867 sec., 318.77 mph
Session 2: 3.773, 322.50

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

ON ESPN2 (ET)
Sunday: 7 p.m., eliminations

WEATHER.COM FORECAST
Sunday: High of 93; 40 percent of isolated thunderstorms

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