BROWNSBURG, Ind. – One of Antron Brown’s first reactions after winning the Top Fuel title Sunday at the NHRA Mile-High Nationals near Denver was that he knew what question he would be asked question the most this week.
And it wouldn’t be if he can win at Sonoma, Calif., for the second straight year and third time in the past four.
The question of the week will be: Do you think you can sweep the Swing again?
Sonoma is the second stop on the annual Western Swing that involves three consecutive weeks of racing on the West Coast. The event in the Rocky Mountains at Bandimere Speedway was first, and this week the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is near San Francisco for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Next week the last Swing stop is near Seattle.
On the very rare occasions when a driver wins each of the event titles it is called “The Sweep” like in other sports.
The last professional driver to accomplish it was Brown in 2009, and his Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Tony Schumacher, did it the year before. They are two of only five Top Fuel pilots to have done it.
“It’s a great feat to do but there really isn’t much you can say about it unless you win Denver, win Sonoma and then if you’re in the final round at Seattle.
“We would have our work cut out for us at Sonoma whether we won at Denver or not.
“It’s a waste of time for us to even think about sweeping the Swing. When we did it 2009, no one on the team talked about until the final round of the Swing when it was in Sonoma. Our guys won’t even think about it or focus on it.
“Right now, we just got through Denver. It takes a lot of things to make the Sweep happen; your team has to be on point for every round, and then you need some things to go your way. It’s not just skill by me, but it’s the skill of our crew chiefs Mark (Oswald) and Brian (Corradi) and the whole Matco team. And some luck.
“The way our Top Fuel class is right now, any of the top 12 teams can win on any given Sunday.”
Last Sunday, it was Brown and Matco time.
Brown qualified second to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey in the horsepower choking mile-high altitude of Bandimere. In the championship round, Brown was trailing Brandon Bernstein for most of the run before Brown won by inches. Brown was a little quicker off the starting line and his winning time of 3.957 seconds (308.21 mph) just edged out Bernstein’s 3.959 (307.58).
“Brandon was on his game. We just had a great, old drag race and won by one-hundredth. That’s pretty strong.”
It was Brown’s second win in the last three Denver finals.
His third title through 13 events this year helped him move around Schumacher into second in the Full Throttle standings. Brown trails points leader Spencer Massey, another DSR mate, by 11 points
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools Top DSR dragster
Career at Sonoma: Wins 2 (Top Fuel – 2009, 2011); runner-ups 2 (Pro Stock Motorcycle – 2004, 2006); poles 1 (Top Fuel – 2008)
2011 at Sonoma: Qualified No. 3; defeated Tony Schumacher in final round.
2012 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2nd 3 3 2 0 28-10
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
252 34* 34 31 2 422-216 (*18 Top Fuel)
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(unofficial through Denver; DSR drivers in CAPS)
TOP FUEL STANDINGS
1. SPENCER MASSEY, 1,071
2. ANTRON BROWN, 1,060
3. TONY SCHUMACHER, 990
4. Steve Torrence, 950
5. Morgan Lucas, 762
6. Doug Kalitta, 744
7. Shawn Langdon, 685
8. Brandon Bernstein, 661
9. David Grubnic, 625
10. Bob Vandergriff, 568
SONOMA NITRO SCHEDULE
FRIDAY: 4, 7 p.m., qualifying sessions
SATURDAY: 12:30, 3 p.m., qualifying sessions
SUNDAY: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
SATURDAY: 7-9:30 p.m. (ET), delayed
SUNDAY: 7-10 p.m. (ET), delayed