COMMERCE, Ga. (May 11, 2013) – Antron Brown and Don Schumacher Racing’s Matco Tools team were not daunted by barely losing the No. 1 qualifying position and settling for the second seed to start Saturday’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
The team merely went out during the rain-delayed Southern Nationals and dominated the four rounds of championship eliminations to win its second title of the season and move to within five points of DSR teammate Tony Schumacher.
“This is big, especially down here at the Southern Nationals,” Brown said. “This track has always been special to us. It’s our fifth time winning – two times in Pro Stock Motorcycle and three times now in Top Fuel. So, we like this place a lot. It reminds me a lot of tracks where I grew up in (New Jersey), like one of the grassroots tracks that’s been around forever. It’s got that special atmosphere, and the fans here are just intense.”
When Brown beat Brandon Bernstein in the championship round, it marked the 205th national event win for DSR, 39th career title for Brown and the fourth time this year and 36th since 203 when DSR has won two or more titles at the same NHRA national event.
After rain wiped out the Southern Nationals last weekend, the Mello Yello Series returned to the track north of Atlanta for abbreviated qualifying with only two sessions on Friday to determine the top-16 for Saturday’s championship eliminations.
“The track was a challenge these last two days,” Brown said. “We ran a (3.78) in the semis but Brandon threw the gauntlet out there with a (3.76 in the semifinals), so we thought we needed to set up for speed in the final.
“But then, like Atlanta does, the clouds went away and the sun came out and the track got warmer. We knew what we needed to do to get the job done. If we got beat, we got beat, but we wanted to go A to B and put on a race and not throw it away. We were fortunate to get the job done.”
Bernstein’s run in the semifinals was the quickest run over the two days.
“When he busted that (3.76) out in that semifinal round, all of our guys were looking at each other, (crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald) were looking at their computer screens, and telling me, ‘We’ll make this happen.’
“Then the sun came out and I saw our boys go back to their (computer) boxes doing different things. Those guys are just incredible. I’m very blessed to have them and to be a part of this Matco Tools/U.S. Army team. Those guys make it happen. They dialed back the car because the sun was out for so long before our run. All I do is pull the trigger on that bullet and hold on tight.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series moves to Heartland Park Topeka next weekend for the Kansas Nationals, an event Brown has never won in five tries.