Brown, Aaron’s/Matco team earns top seed in Top Fuel heading to Countdown’s opening round near Charlotte
BROWNSBURG, Ind. – The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series held its annual “Western Swing” with three races in three weekends in three western states in the heat of the summer.
Brown and his teammates won the first two “Swing” titles, and although the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Top Fuel Dragster team didn’t win the last leg to complete a sweep, valuable lessons were learned that will be applied during the six-event Countdown to the Championship playoff that opens Friday near Charlotte and begins a run of four events in four states over four weekends.
“That’s the hard part,” Brown said. “Every team out here is going to go through that but our Aaron’s/Matco boys are primed, set and ready. We used the grind and pressure of the Western Swing to help us prepare for these next four races. We have to be ready and we know what we’ll be up against. We can’t let the tired-factor get in our minds. We have to stay in the attack mode and attack every round.
“It’s just time to get started with Charlotte,” said Brown, whose team won the event title a year ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s zMAX Dragway at Concord, N.C., to start the Countdown but advanced to only one other final round in the playoff.
He believes toughness and discipline instilled by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald along with assistant Brad Mason will be a big benefit in the Countdown.
Although Brown lost Sunday in the U.S. Nationals semifinals to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey, Brown’s second-round win clinched the regular season points title in the 17th event of the season. Being ranked No. 1 heading into the Countdown earned the Aaron’s/Matco team a 20-point bonus. The Countdown standings are reset at 10-point increments so Brown will lead Massey by 30 when racing begins.
“Our goal at the start of the year was to come into the Countdown in the top-three, and once we were in the top-three we wanted to get that No. 1 spot,” Brown said. “Those 20 bonus points are crucial. Now that we’ve achieved that, we are going to attack each race individually. In Charlotte, we’ll just take it one qualifying run at a time. Then attack each round on Sunday.
“I don’t have to play any mind games. I just have all the confidence in my race team that they will give me a great racecar. There’s no need to play any tricks to get over on somebody.
“Our main deal is just being smart, and the team that makes fewer mistakes during the Countdown is going to win the championship.
A year ago, Massey finished the season second in points and Brown was third.
This year the popular drivers were first in points after 13 of 17 Full Throttle events and were tied for first after the 14th event. They each have won a series-best four event titles, and while Brown has advanced to more final rounds (9 to 7), Massey’s win over Brown at the last event gave Massey a 4-3 edge in head-to-head battles this season.
“When you lose to a team member it doesn’t feel any better,” Brown said. “We’re all there for the same purpose, to win for DSR and to win for our sponsors. It doesn’t make a difference who you lose to. Losing just sucks, period.”
Antron Brown, Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools dragster
Career at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Wins 1 (2011), Runner-up 1 (2008), Poles 0
April 2012 at CMS: Qualified No. 3, finished third in Four-Wide final
September 2011 at CMS: Qualified No. 5, defeated Spencer Massey in final round
2012 Pts Races Wins R-up Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 17 4 5 2 0 38-13
Career Races Titles R-up Poles DNQ Win/Loss
256 35* 35 31 2 4 32-219 (*19 Top Fuel)
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
Countdown to the Championship
Official thru Sept. 9, 2012
(Points reset for six-event Countdown; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. ANTRON BROWN, 2,110
2. SPENCER MASSEY, 2,080
3. TONY SCHUMACHER, 2,070
4. Steve Torrence, 2,060
5. Doug Kalitta, 2,050
6. Morgan Lucas, 2,040
7. Shawn Langdon, 2,030
8. Brandon Bernstein, 2,020
9. David Grubnic, 2,010
BROWN, HAGAN AT KANNAPOLIS AARON’S
Antron Brown and Matt Hagan will visit with fans from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Aaron’s store in Kannapolis located at 711 N. Cannon Blvd. where they will sign autographs, pose for pictures and give away NHRA event tickets, autographed parts from their 8,000-horsepower engines and other souvenirs.
For information, contact the Aaron’s store at (704) 932-0046.
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
The fields are set for each of the four Full Throttle professional categories heading to the six-event Countdown to the Championship.
The points will be reset at 10-point increments for the Countdown contestants and the points leaders after Indy, which was the 17th event of the year, getting 20-point bonus so they will start the Countdown with 30-point leads in Top Fuel (Antron Brown), Funny Car (Ron Capps), Pro Stock (Allen Johnson) and Pro Stock Motorcycle Eddie Krawiec).
Only the top-10 drivers can contend for season championships but all drivers entered in the last six events will contend with Countdown drivers for event points and titles. The best season finish for non-Countdown driver can be 11th.
SIX IN A ROW
Postponing the U.S. Nationals by one week means the Full Throttle series will now race on five consecutive weekends beginning next weekend with the first race in the Countdown at zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway at Concord, N.C.
Factoring in last week’s rainout it actually means teams will have competed six straight weekends.