ENNIS, Texas – Antron Brown might spend time conjuring the Texas two-wheel spirits that helped him win his first NHRA national title at the track near Dallas in 1999.
And no time would be better for him to get a little push than Sunday when championship eliminations begin in the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex south of Dallas during the second event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship in the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
“This track has always been real special to me, because it’s where I got my first professional win in Pro Stock Bike in 1999,” said Brown, who is qualified eighth for the opening round that begins at 11 a.m.
“It’d be really cool to win one in Top Fuel, but we’re just going to take it one round at a time and stay focused on the task at hand. Tomorrow is race day and it’s where all the points are made and we’ve got to go out there and get after it.”
Brown and his Don Schumacher Racing Matco Tools dragster tuned by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald started the Countdown ranked No. 1 last weekend near Charlotte but a part failure cost them at chance at a win in the first round. The team fell to fourth in the standings heading to Texas.
A few mechanical gremlins impaired qualifying efforts but a solid run to end Saturday under sunny skies and temperatures hovering in the mid-90s provided optimism with a run of 3.948 seconds at 306.88 mph.
“The good part is the last run we made it down the track,” said Brown, who has won four event titles this season.
“When you go out on the track early in the day like we did (Saturday), we weren’t quite sure how good the track really was. The last couple of pairs showed us when they ran high (3.80s). We can step it up a little because the car was really soft, and it went down the track really, really easy.
“We’re looking good for (Sunday), because it’s going to be really hot. We know now in those conditions you have to go out there and try to run a 3.88 to 3.90 to get the job done. All in all, we are right in the mix.”
By qualifying in the top half of the 16-car field, Brown’s crew chiefs get choice a lanes against David Grubnic of Kalitta Motorsports.
“The cool thing for tomorrow’s first round is that we’re going to have lane choice, which is going to be really important,” Brown said. “(We’re) just going to go out there and hit it hard. It’s going to be a tough match-up but everybody is in the same situation. We just have to go out there focused on each run, stay poised and go to work.”
Brown’s DSR and U.S. Army teammate Tony Schumacher held the pole after Friday’s two sessions but Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing’s run of 3.827 (322.34) took the No. 1 position on Saturday.
The following are DSR qualifying results and notes from the NHRA Fall Nationals near Dallas:
No. 1 qualifier: Shawn Langdon 3.827 sec., 322.34 mph
Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Qualified: No. 8
Round 1 opponent: David Grubnic
Session 1: 3.915 sec., 309.77 mph
Session 2: 3.862, 309.70
Session 3: 4.606, 167.51
Session 4: 3.948, 306.88
SUNDAY: High 94 degrees; 10 percent chance of rain
THIS WEEKEND’S EVENT SCHEDULE
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m. (CT)
SUNDAY: 1 p.m, Re-air of qualifying with Traxxas Shootout; Eliminations, 8:30 p.m. (all times ET)