CONCORD, N.C. – It was surprising when points leader Antron Brown could qualify his Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools dragster no better than 10th for Sunday’s NHRA Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s zMAX Dragway at Concord, N.C.
Then it was shocking when a mechanical problem led to his first-round loss to Toyota Racing teammate and Al-Anabi Racing’s Khalid alBalooshi, who also had problems but his slow 4.425-second run at 182.43 mph was better than Brown’s 4.716 at 159.31.
“We were going down the racetrack fine,” Brown said. “We just broke an input shaft. It actually broke an input shaft. We just don’t know why. It’s the second one we broke this year. It didn’t have many runs on it at all. Practically brand new.
“We broke one earlier in the year, but it had almost 25 runs on it. We used to run them 40 times before you change them. The one we broke today had maybe 12 runs on it. It was just checked, so it was just one of those deals that happens. We’re going to investigate it and do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again, especially in this countdown.
“That’s how drag racing goes. You can go from a hero to zero pretty quickly in NHRA racing. It just wasn’t our weekend no matter how you look at it. We fought hard in everything we tried to do, but the outcome was just the opposite.”
The combination of Brown’s premature departure from the event coupled with Don Schumacher Racing teammates Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey going at least two rounds deeper in eliminations to pass Brown in points after the first of six events in the Countdown to the Championship. Schumacher moved to first followed by Massey and Brown.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series’ next event is this coming weekend at the Texas Motorplex at Ennis, Texas, outside of Dallas.
“We’re going to regroup and get ready for Dallas,” Brown said. “We are going to head there with a full head of steam and keep on pressing. There are still five races left, plenty of racing left. It just hurts because it’s the first race of the Countdown. It was just out of our control.”
A sporadic drizzle and light rain throughout the day delayed by four hours the start of the opening event in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. But after diligent work by the NHRA Safety Safari to dry and prepare the track, racing began at 4 p.m.
The following are Brown’s results from the NHRA Nationals near Charlotte:
Antron Brown, Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools dragster
Qualified: No. 10
Round 1: Khalid alBalooshi (4.425 sec., 182.43) def. BROWN (4.716, 159.31)
Session 1: 4.393 sec., 207.08 mph
Session 2: 4.913, 152.06
Session 3: 3.865, 318.69
Session 4: 3.851, 319.22