BAYTOWN, Texas – After an impressive spring storm moved through the Houston-area on Saturday, 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Series champion Antron Brown is looking to storm through the Top Fuel competition next weekend at Atlanta Dragway.

Losing two qualifying sessions to rain showers at the last two races, including yesterday at Royal Purple Raceway, Brown’s Matco Tools team eye four solid qualifying laps next weekend in north Georgia as they aim for rounds wins after two straight opening round losses, something that’s happened just three times in 122 career Top Fuel races.

“We’re really disappointed with our result this weekend,” Brown said, who won his first career Top Fuel race at Houston in 2008. “The track got really tricky for everybody. We went out there and thought we had slowed it down enough to run like a mid to high 3.80, which we were confident would get the job done. You can’t take Bob Vandergriff or anyone in this class lightly.

“The car was trying to go way faster than we thought it would go. It left the line and felt like it was trying to go a high 3.70 instead of high 3.80. That’s just what happens sometimes. The track just didn’t come around and we just got beat.”

Brown won’t have long to dwell on the defeat as the popular champion keeps a busy schedule during NHRA’s first three-race swing of 2013. The 22-time Top Fuel winner will join champion teammates “Fast Jack” Beckman and Matt Hagan at Coca-Cola’s annual champion’s dinner at The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta on May 1, before joining more than 60 guests of team owner Don Schumacher as the DSR team patriarch is inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala. on May 2. The 2013 Hall class also includes Rick Hendrick, Rusty Wallace and Dale Inman.

“We just need to regroup,” Brown said. “We thought we were going to have a good weekend down in here in Houston, get some points and get back into our normal routine. It didn’t work out, so we’ll just have to get back after it in Atlanta, another track we’ve had success at.”

Atlanta could be the perfect therapy for the Matco Tools team as Brown has four career wins at the NHRA-owned Commerce, Ga. facility, including two in Top Fuel (2008, ’11).

The following are Brown’s results and other notes for the NHRA Spring Nationals:

Event winner:

Antron Brown, Matco Tools
Qualifying position: No. 4 (3.816 seconds, 314.83 mph)

First round: Bob Vandergriff (4.181, 260.71) def. ANTRON BROWN (4.902, 158.19)

Session 1: 4.205 sec., 202.91 mph
Session 2: 3.816, 314.83
Session 3: rained out
Session 4: rained out

Event winner: Bob Vandergriff, Bob Vandergriff Racing

Antron Brown, Matco Tools
Qualifying position: No. 4
First round: Bob Vandergriff (4.181, 260.71) def. ANTRON BROWN (4.902, 158.19)

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
(Unofficial through Houston event; 6 of 24; DSR drivers in CAPS)

3. Shawn Langdon, 423
5. Morgan Lucas, 347
6t. Doug Kalitta, 333
6t. Khalid alBalooshi, 333
8. Bob Vandergriff, 295
9. Brandon Bernstein, 281
10. David Grubnic, 250
Event winners: Shawn Langdon, TONY SCHUMACHER, ANTRON BROWN, SCHUMACHER, Bob Vandergriff

NEXT MELLO YELLO EVENT: May 3-5, NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga.