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Heat puts damper on performances at Norwalk track; Matco’s Brown holds No. 2 spot and takes points lead

NORWALK, Ohio – There was no chance a Top Fuel Dragster would run quicker Saturday than what Steve Torrence did the night before.

The last two qualifying sessions in the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals were held in the afternoon when temperatures were in the high 90s and the best use of two runs would be to get prepared for Sunday’s championship eliminations.

Antron Brown believes his team is ready for what is expected to be the coolest day of the three-day event at Summit Motorsports Park.

His team’s solid runs in each of four, hot qualifying sessions enabled him to earn enough bonus points to take the Top Fuel points lead away from Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher.

“I’m stoked, and excited for the way our team has performed out here so far,” he said. “We have to take what we’ve learned in two days and that will help us go some rounds on Sunday.”

Brown will race a familiar car in the first round when he meets Morgan Lucas. The drivers, each of whom has won two titles this year through 11 events, have met five times with Brown holding a 4-1 edge.

Crew chiefs Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi tuned Brown to a run of 3.832 seconds at 321.27 mph in their Matco Tools dragster on Friday night under the weekend’s coolest and most optimal conditions. Brown was second quickest to Torrence’s 3.829 that was run in the same session.

Brown’s team produced the weekend’s top speed.

“This is one of those races where the conditions aren’t what you would like and it can wear you down physically and mentally, especially our guys on the crew that worked out here in the heat for two days,” Brown said.

Everyone at Norwalk – from drivers, to crews and fans – will get a respite from Saturday’s heat indexes that were well over 100 when the forecast calls for highs in the low 80s on Sunday.

“We’ll see some low to mid 3.80s on Sunday early and we might slow up a little when it gets warmer in the afternoon and the sun heats up the track.”

Brown’s last run Saturday was a 3.978 (298.27) and the quickest of the session.

“That was a great run,” he said. “It feels good to get juiced up and energized for race day.”

TOP FUEL
No. 1 qualifier: Steve Torrence 3.829 sec., 319.98 mph

Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Qualifying position: No. 2
First round opponent: Morgan Lucas

FRIDAY
Session 1: 3.947 sec., 305.42 mph
Session 2: 3.832, 321.27
SATURDAY
Session 3: 4.097, 237.25
Session 4: 3.978, 298.27

BROWN STATS
Career at Norwalk: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2010); Poles 0
2011 at Norwalk: Qualified No. 9; lost to Del Worsham in second round.

2012 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2nd 2 3 2 0 23-9

2011 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
3rd 6 2 3 0 50-16

Career Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
33* 34 31 2 417-216

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

ON ESPN2
Sunday: 8-11 p.m. (ET), championship eliminations (delayed)

WEATHER.COM FORECAST
Sunday: High of 83; 30 percent chance of isolated thundershowers

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