MADISON, Ill. – Antron Brown with the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools team produced a two-race winning streak midway through the season but another one on Sunday near St. Louis would be the most important of his career.

Brown, led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, won the event title a week ago in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Series event near Dallas. Winning again Sunday at Gateway in would be huge in Brown’s quest for a first NHRA season championship.

There is no better time for Brown to a make it two straight by winning the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park for his series-best sixth title of the year. The Gateway event marks the midway point of the six-event Countdown to the Championship playoff.

Brown and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey arrived at Gateway tied for the Top Fuel points lead in the Countdown. On Friday, Brown produced a track record run of 3.737 seconds at 326.79 mph that was his quickest ever, third quickest ever in NHRA and set both track records.

That enabled him to start Saturday with a two-point lead over Massey. Although Massey had a better qualifying day on Saturday, Brown will start Sunday’s racing with a one-point lead.

“Today was a little struggle for us because we couldn’t get the car slowed down enough,” said Brown, who earned his third No. 1 qualifying spot of the season. “It just didn’t want to slow down. We have our work cut out for us (Sunday) because that’s when all the marbles count up quick because you get 20 points for every round you win.”

Brown will open Sunday’s elimination rounds at 11 a.m. against Bruce Litton.

“We have a tough first-round matchup and we have to get down the track with a good (elapsed time) to set us up for the second round with lane choice,” said Brown, who has won a series-best five event titles this season.

The following are Brown’s DSR qualifying results heading to Sunday’s elimination rounds and notes from the NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis:

No. 1 qualifier: Antron Brown (DSR) 3.737 sec., 326.79 mph

Antron Brown, Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools dragster
Qualified: No. 1
First-round opponent: Bruce Litton

Session 1: 3.814 sec., 321.04 mph
Session 2: 3.737, 326.79
Session 3: 5.143, 137.33
Session 4: 4.999, 141.61

Sunday: 11 a.m. (CT), eliminations

(All times ET, subject to change)
Sunday: 2:30 a.m., 1 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 8-11 p.m. ET, eliminations

Sunday: high 70, 10 percent chance of rain

Oct. 4-7, NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa. (Philadelphia area)
Oct. 25-28, Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas
Nov. 8-11, Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.