BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 18, 2013) – No one’s faith runs deeper than Antron Brown’s, whether it’s religion, family or race team.
For Brown, the reigning NHRA Top Fuel world champion, adversity just makes you stronger.
And the 37-year-old New Jersey native is taking the biggest slump of his professional drag racing career in stride.
“We just have to keep staying on our plan and keep our focus,” said Brown, following his fourth first-round loss of the season Sunday at Bristol, Tenn. “We just need to beat this resistance with persistence.”
Brown, who lives outside of Indianapolis with his wife, Billie Jo, and their three children, will arrive at Epping, N.H., for the inaugural New England NHRA Nationals at New England Dragway with his Matco Tools team intent on stopping a streak of losing in the first round of three consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events.
“It beats you up, gets you frustrated,” he said of the streak. “But I’m on this team because things like this bring us closer together. They’re all working hard, and we know eventually hard work will pay off.”
On Sunday at Bristol, Brown with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, had a subpar qualifying effort that put them in the No. 12 spot and a match-up with Don Schumacher Racing and U.S. Army teammate Tony Schumacher in the opening round. Brown’s dragster lost traction and Schumacher won, and Brown dropped one spot to fourth in the standings with two titles in 10 events.
“We learn from every experience that we have in this sport,” Brown said. “I’ve been in it for 16 years now. When you go through the down times, you can’t let it keep pulling you down. You have to keep picking at it. I’m confident it will turn around.”
Brown and his Matco team spent Monday testing at the Bristol track and made three successful runs down the dragstrip.
“It was all good,” Brown said. “We accomplished what we wanted to by changing a couple things so we can start off right at Epping.
“We’re going through a point now when you have to regroup, but it shows how tough the competition is. As a team, we’re just down a little bit now but we’re getting back to where we need to be.
“We have to take those bumps and bruises and keep on pushing.”
Last event: Qualified No. 12; lost in first round to Tony Schumacher
Best Time, Speed
3.701 sec. */** (10- 8-12, Reading), 328.78 mph (10-8-12, Reading); * Quickest ever, ** NHRA national record
NHRA MELLO YELLOW DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial standings after 10 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. TONY SCHUMACHER, 802
2. Shawn Langdon, 801
3. SPENCER MASSEY, 716
4. ANTRON BROWN, 660
5. Khalid alBalooshi, 578
6. Doug Kalitta, 563
7. Morgan Lucas, 515
8. Clay Millican, 473
9. Bob Vandergriff, 448
10. Brandon Bernstein, 445
2013 TOP FUEL WINNERS: Langdon, SCHUMACHER, BROWN, SCHUMACHER, MASSEY, Vandergriff, BROWN, Langdon, Langdon, Steve Torrence.
THIS WEEKEND AT EPPING, N.H.
Inaugural New England NHRA Nationals, New England Dragway
Friday: 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1 p.m., 3 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations, noon (ET)
Saturday: 8-10 p.m. ET, qualifying (delayed)
Sunday: 7-10 p.m. ET, championship eliminations (delayed)