JOLIET, Ill. – Antron Brown is all about family whether its wife Billie Jo and their three beautiful children, or his “boys” on the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster team at Don Schumacher Racing.
Brown, who has been blessed with a father and uncle who have served as lifelong role models, could consider Don Schumacher a godfather.
And Brown provided a perfect end to a perfect day for Schumacher, who started the day by being surprised when he was told that he was selected to be a member in the 2013 class to be inducted into the prestigious International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala.
The Matco team, led by crew chiefs Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi along with assistant crew chief Brad Mason, won the NHRA Route 66 Nationals title Sunday night about an hour from where Schumacher grew up and 10 hours after he learned of his pending induction.
“Starting out the day by being told that I was elected into the International Hall of Fame was overwhelming,” Schumacher said. “That was a big surprise.
“And then to have Antron win Top Fuel capped off a perfect day for me. It’s like I said after Bruce (Ramey of the Hall) told me I made it in that I am going in because of our drivers and all the great people I’m surrounded by at DSR.
“It’s a day I’ll remember and for it to happen near where I grew up and started to race is more than I could ever have imagined.”
It is the 33rd NHRA pro title in 250 NHRA events for Brown and one he’ll never forget. And not just because it’s the second of the season for his Matco team and moved him to second in points and just three points behind DSR teammate Tony Schumacher.
“It was very special to be able to be there this morning when Don was told he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year,” Brown said. “Don has given me everything I ever could have wanted as a professional racer.
“He makes sure we have all the best people and parts and the safest race cars he can build. We are a big family over at DSR. Just look what happened after we blew an engine in the semifinals. A lot of our teammates on the U.S. Army car came over to help. I have great crew chiefs and great crew guys on our Matco Tools team but those Army guys were a big, big help.”
Brown moved from third to second in the standings, passing teammate Spencer Massey who lost in the second round. Tony Schumacher held onto the points lead despite losing in the first round with a violent engine explosion.
Only 11 points separates Schumacher from Massey as DSR continues to hold the top three spots.
The following are Brown’s event results:
Event winner: Antron Brown
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools dragster
First round: BROWN (3.820 sec., 319.98 mph) def. Morgan Lucas (4.321, 229.94)
Second round: BROWN (3.801, 323.04) def. David Grubnic (6.184, 101.38)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.794, 321.04) def. Shawn Langdon (3.803, 319.37)
Final: BROWN (3.784, 322.88) def. Steve Torrence (3.809, 322.42)
Session 1: 3.867 sec., 318.77 mph
Session 2: 3.773, 322.50
Session 3: 6.689, 99.46
Session 4: 6.598, 99.54
TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Unofficial July 1 through 11 of 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. TONY SCHUMACHER, 879
2. ANTRON BROWN, 876
3. SPENCER MASSEY, 868
4. Steve Torrence, 775
5. Morgan Lucas, 698
6. Doug Kalitta, 656
7. Shawn Langdon, 596
8. Brandon Bernstein, 536
9. David Grubnic, 521
10. Clay Millican, 490
July 5-8, NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio