POMONA, Calif. – Antron Brown has control of his NHRA world championship destiny, which is all any driver could ask going into the final day of a season.
But the Top Fuel points leader also knows he could have a tougher foe in Sunday’s opening round of the Auto Club NHRA Nationals at Pomona, Calif.
Brown and his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster will start racing at 11 a.m. with a 67-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher. But before Brown thinks about what Schumacher does, he will have to face Spencer Massey, another DSR teammate, in the opening round.
And Massey is 70 points behind Brown heading to the final race of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Moments after Brown’s engine exploded Saturday evening on his last qualifying run, Massey dragster lost traction and didn’t improve on his qualifying position. But the result was the best hope Massey had of catching Brown. Massey qualified seventh and Brown 10th that sets up the first-round meeting.
“Our Matco car was trucking along, and it felt really good in the middle of the run,” Brown said of his last round that appeared ahead for a solid run that would have move him higher on the qualifying ladder.
“It went away quick. It’s a bummer. It was going to be a good run. Tomorrow’s when everything you worked all season for is on the table. We have a championship to go win. It’s like I always say there isn’t another group of guys that I would want to be going into tomorrow with than the ones I got.
“Facing Spencer first round is going to be tough, but no one said winning a championship was going to be easy. DSR has had the top three cars all season. It’s no surprise we have to beat one of them in order to complete our ultimate mission. We need to go out and race for the championship. We are going to go out there and do what we do.”
The following are Brown’s qualifying results heading to Sunday’s championship eliminations on Sunday at Pomona’s Auto Club Raceway:
No. 1 qualifier: Shawn Langdon (Al-Anabi Racing) 3.730, 327.82 mph
Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Qualified: No. 10
First-round opponent: Spencer Massey
Session 1: rained out
Session 2: 3.804 sec., 321.27 mph
Session 3: 3.797, 325.58
Session 4: 3.842, 269.78
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(Through Nov. 10, 2012; DSR drivers in CAPS)
TOP FUEL Pts. Pts. Behind
1. ANTRON BROWN 2,555 —
2. TONY SCHUMACHER 2,488 -67
3. SPENCER MASSEY 2,485 -70
Here’s how pro drivers can earn points on Sunday:
During championship eliminations, each of the 16 qualifiers are assured 20 points, then each round winner gets 20 points so the event winner will receive 100 points;
There also is a 20-point bonus for a driver who sets and leaves an event with an NHRA national elapsed-time record. (No bonus points are offered for a national speed record.)
PENALTIES. A driver can lose points as the result of a malfunction that results in fluid being deposited on the racing surface and requires NHRA Safety Safari to clean the track resulting in an event delay.
48TH ANNUAL AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS AT POMONA, CALIF. SCHEDULE
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
(As of 5 p.m. Friday)
Sunday: High 69, 0 percent of rain
Sunday: 6-9 p.m. (EST), championship eliminations