BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 2, 2013) – The NHRA Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown is happy to be back on track as he returns to the home state of longtime sponsor Matco Tools and crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald.

The team advanced to the semifinals of the Route 66 Nationals near Chicago on Sunday and is ready for the Summit Equipment NHRA Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio, which begin Friday.

It hasn’t been often that a semifinal finish would satisfy Brown and the Matco team, which won a series-best six titles last year, but that was a big improvement over the previous four events when the team couldn’t get past the first round of eliminations.

“It’s great to get out of that slump, and if we had to have one it was better to have it happen now rather than later in the season,” said Brown, who won two titles this season in the first seven events of the Mello Yello series and ranks fourth in championship points after 12 of 24 events.

“We had a lot of little things go wrong that no one could have predicted. It just made us stronger and closer as a team. We kept each other positive; when we saw someone down we pulled together tighter.

“That’s what a championship team does; you weather the storm.”

An ideal weather forecast for the weekend at Norwalk should provide the ideal atmosphere for attending executives and guests of Matco Tools, which is headquartered in Stow near Akron.

Brown arrives in Ohio early to spend Wednesday evening in Middleburg Heights, where Corradi and his wife Jackie own Original Master Pizza (15180 Bagley Road just south of the Cleveland metropolitan area) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A raffle will benefit the Guidestone Children’s Home of Berea.

“That’s a great night to be with the Corradi family and with our team away from the track,” Brown said. “We get to eat great pizza and hang out with our fans and friends from around Cleveland.

“Then we have to go to Norwalk and win for our Ohio boys.”

Oswald is a native of Cincinnati and Corradi is a native of Middleburg Heights near Cleveland where he lives with his family.

Another Buckeye on the roster for Matco Tools is Wayne “Red” Waite of Elyria, who has been an engine specialist with the team for the past four years.

Brown has won 39 NHRA titles since turning pro in 1998 but never has left Norwalk with the trophy but was runner-up in 2010. His only NHRA title in Ohio came as a Pro Stock Motorcycle rider in 1999 when the event was held at National Trail Raceway east of Columbus.

Last event (June 30, Joliet, Ill.): Qualified No. 11; lost in semifinals to eventual titlist Tony Schumacher.
A year ago at Norwalk: Qualified No. 2; lost in second round to eventual titlist Spencer Massey.
Career at Norwalk: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2010); Poles 0.

Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, Ohio
Friday: 5:30, 8 p.m. ET, qualifying
Saturday: 12:30, 3 p.m. ET, qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m. ET, championship eliminations

Saturday: 6-8 p.m. (ET, delayed), qualifying
Sunday: 7-10 p.m. (ET, delayed), eliminations

WEATHER.COM (As of July 2)
Friday: High 78, 30 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 81, 20 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 81, 30 percent chance of rain