LAS VEGAS – Antron Brown and his Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” team picked the wrong time to record their worst qualifying effort of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
After a solid effort in Friday’s first session of the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals near Las Vegas, the team was unable to complete a successful run on its last three tries down the track at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Brown will start Sunday’s championship eliminations seeded 13th in the 16-car Top Fuel field. The team’s previous worst start was 12th at the April NHRA event at Las Vegas, but the team rallied on that Sunday to advance to the championship round where it lost to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey.
“We just have to keep digging,” said Brown, who started the event with a 104-point lead over Massey but it has been trimmed to 90 after Massey earned eight bonus points in qualifying and is seeded No. 2.
“On that last run (Saturday), we had the car set-up and just dropped a (cylinder). Once you feel good and like you have everything else right that you want to get right, something else jumps up and bites you.
“It’s just a part of drag racing. We’re in the show, so tomorrow we’re going to go out there like we’ve got nothing to lose. We’re going to go up there and give the car everything we got. We’ll have a tough first round match-up against Khalid alBalooshi. We owe those guys. We just need to keep our heads down and keep battling.
Brown was referring to the last time he faced alBalooshi of Al-Anabi Racing. It was in the championship round at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., and alBalooshi pulled the upset to record his first NHRA Top Fuel event title.
But Brown always says crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald race the track and not the opponent.
“Tomorrow morning we’ll have some really good conditions, so we’ll just go back to where we started the weekend and see if we can get a first-round win and move on.”
The following are Brown’s qualifying results from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway near Las Vegas:
No. 1 qualifier: Tony Schumacher (DSR) 3.773 sec., 323.66 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” dragster
Qualified: No. 13
First-round opponent: Khalid alBalooshi (Al-Anabi Racing)
Session 1: 3.869 sec., 313.88 mph
Session 2: 5.582, 117.93
Session 3: 5.470, 124.32
Session 4: 4.013, 251.95
UNDERSTANDING THE POINTS
The following is an explanation of how drivers in NHRA’s pro categories can earn points.
In each of four qualifying sessions, the three quickest in each session earn up to 3 bonus points; 3 for the quickest, 2 for second quickest and 1 for third quickest. A maximum of 12 qualifying points can be earned at an event.
Points are awarded incrementally after final qualifying: 1st, 8 points; 2nd, 7 points, 3rd, 6 points; 4th, 5 points; 5th and 6th, 4 points; 7th and 8th, 3 points; 9th-12th 2 points; and 13th-16th, 1 point.
During championship eliminations, each of the 16 qualifiers are assured 20 points, then each round winner gets 20 points to the event winner will receive 100 points.
There also is a 20-point bonus for a driver sets an NHRA national elapsed-time record and leaves that event as the record-holder.
Every driver who enters that event and makes a qualifying attempt gets 10 points.
A perfect weekend would produce 150 points.
NHRA FULL THROTTLE EVENT SCHEDULE:
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.
WEATHER.COM FOR LAS VEGAS
(As of 5 p.m. Saturday)
Sunday: High 82, 0 percent of rain
Sunday: 8 -11 p.m. ET, eliminations
NEXT FULL THROTTLE EVENT
Nov. 8-11; Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.