Brown ties DSR teammate Massey for Top Fuel lead with Sonoma win; his Matco team can clean up at Seattle
BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Antron Brown rarely says no to his wife and almost never to his mom.
So it’s a good that Brown has remained on the West Coast this week awaiting this weekend’s event near Seattle for the last of three races in the Western Swing on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series circuit.
Were he at home in Pittsboro, Ind., this week, the affable driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster would vehemently yell “NO!” if either woman in his life directed a question to him that began with, “Antron, can you take the broom and go …”
Until Sunday afternoon, Brown, who has won the first two events on the three-week Swing, considers “sweep” to be a four-letter word and forbidden topic.
In 2009, he became the last of seven NHRA drivers to complete the “sweep” by winning each of the three events on the midsummer, western tour. He won Sunday at Sonoma, Calif., and the week before near Denver.
Only the last leg remains, and it’s Friday to Sunday in the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways at Kent, Wash.
“I won’t talk about a sweep until we’re in the final round at Seattle,” Brown said through a big smile after winning at Denver and has continued the mantra since winning his fourth event title of the season in Northern California’s Napa Valley.
“Learning from 2009, we’ll just take the same approach,” Brown said. “We didn’t take anything for granted then, and we never looked past the next round of racing. We’re just focused on the here and now. When we go to Seattle, we’re only going to worry about qualifying.”
His success at Sonoma enabled him to move into a first-place tie with Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey in the Full Throttle Top Fuel standings after 14 events on the 23-race Full Throttle national tour.
What Brown is willing to talk about freely is his Matco team – from crew chiefs Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi to owner Don Schumacher, and every member of the DSR family who works on the DSR-built dragster.
“The car is just paying dividends right now,” said Brown, who along with Massey’s FRAM/Prestone team competed with new DSR chassis for only the second weekend.
“A lot of people don’t realize that there’s over a million things on this racecar that can go wrong. You have to make sure all those things are on a checklist and that they each get checked off. It takes a lot of work.”
Brown, a former standout sprinter who has run the 100-meter dash in 10.2 seconds, edged past Massey for the Sonoma title with a run of 3.814 seconds at 318.02 mph to beat Massey’s 3.826 (323.50) with a victory margin of 0.012 of a second.
It was the fifth time this season that pairings in a Top Fuel final were DSR teams. Making last Sunday even more special to Schumacher was the Funny Car final also pitted his drivers – Johnny Gray and Matt Hagan – against each other. Only one other team DSR teams filled the nitro finals, and when it did in 2011 at Brainerd, Minn., Brown and Gray also won titles.
It was the 30th time that Schumacher drivers won each of NHRA’s premier titles in the same event and pushed DSR’s total of NHRA event titles to 189.
Schumacher, who won the first title for DSR in 1970, was eager to talk about anything … except the chances of Brown repeating as the winner of the three Western Swing titles.
“There’s an opportunity,” Schumacher said. “We take it one race at a time. Antron has the opportunity for the sweep. Sweep sounds nice, but it’s just another race when we get to Seattle.”
The following are statistics for Brown, Full Throttle standings and other notes:
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools DSR dragster
Career at Seattle: Wins 1 (2009); runner-ups 1 (2010); poles 1 (2011)
2011 at Seattle: Qualified No. 1; lost in semifinals to Tony Schumacher
2012 Pts Races Wins Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st (tie) 14 4 3 2 0 32-10
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
253 35* 34 31 2 426-216
(*19 Top Fuel)
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(through Aug. 29, 2012; Sonoma, Calif.; * clinched spots in Countdown)
1. *ANTRON BROWN, 1174
1. *SPENCER MASSEY, 1174
3. *TONY SCHUMACHER, 1048
4. Steve Torrence, 984
5. Doug Kalitta, 828
6. Morgan Lucas, 796
7. Shawn Langdon, 741
8. Brandon Bernstein, 734
9. David Grubnic, 684
10. Bob Vandergriff, 601
NORTHWEST NATIONALS NITRO SCHEDULE
At Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash.
Friday: qualifying, 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. (PT)
Saturday: qualifying, 12:30, 3:30 p.m. (PT)
Sunday: championship eliminations, 11 a.m. (PT)
Saturday: 10:30 p.m.-midnight, delay (ET)
Sunday: 6-9 p.m., delay (ET)