BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 17, 2013) – Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team are close to peaking at the right time with only two more championship Sunday’s left before the start of the six-event NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff.
Brown qualified No. 6 for eliminations Sunday in the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. It’s the second consecutive event when the Matco team with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald has qualified sixth and fourth time in the past five events when the Matco team has entered eliminations in the top seven.
After winning two of the season’s first seven event titles, the team began testing new parts and combinations and were mired in a midseason slump and fell to fifth in the standings. “We just have been working at it and picking it up a little at a time,” said Brown, who Saturday earned the fourth spot in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff.
“I feel like we’re just starting to get to where we want to be. The car is working great. It’s responding to everything (co-crew chiefs) Brian, Mark and our whole Matco Tools/U.S. Army team are trying to do. That’s a good feeling, because the fourth and last qualifying session was on the hottest track condition we’ve had all weekend, and we made a really, really good run. It’s something we can build on for tomorrow. That’s very promising. We’re pumped up and just getting back into that zone we’re used to being in. That’s our main focus. Doing well here in Brainerd, and then fine tuning things at our test sessions next week at Indy so that we’re ready for the U.S. Nationals and the Countdown. It’ll be nice to pick up some momentum heading into the Countdown and that’s our goal.”
Brown opens Sunday’s eliminations against Doug Kalitta, who is ranked one spot behind him in fifth. The winner of the opening-round race determines fourth of fifth place in the standings. “They’re all tough matchups,” Brown said. “It doesn’t matter where you are on the ladder. Every driver in this class is tough, so we know we’ll have to be on our game versus Doug Kalitta. It’s going to be extremely competitive. It should be a great first round.”
TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
No. 1 qualifier: Clay Millican (Bob Vandergriff Racing), 3.773 sec.,*ties track record; 326.63 mph
Antron Brown, Matco Tools
Qualified: No. 6
First-round opponent: Doug Kalitta, No. 11
Session 1: 3.902 sec., 313.37 mph
Session 2: 3.821, 319.45
Session 3: 3.847, 317.94
Session 4: 3.814, 318.62
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS SCHEDULE
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m. (CT) ON ESPN2/ESPN2HD
Saturday: Qualifying, 11 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: Eliminations, 9 p.m. (ET), delayed
WEATHER.COM FORECAST FOR BRAINERD
Sunday: High 84; 10 percent chance of rain
Two events – including this weekend at Brainerd – remain before the regular season concludes Labor Day Weekend at the NHRA U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis and that will set the field for the top-10 drivers in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff series that will determine the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champs in each of four pro categories. Arriving at Brainerd, Matt Hagan of DSR is the only Funny Car driver to lock up a spot in the Countdown.
In Top Fuel, Hagan’s teammates Spencer Massey, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown join points-leader Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta and Khalid alBalooshi in the Countdown field.
About Matco Tools
Matco Tools manufactures, distributes and services premium quality automotive equipment, tools and tool storage for the professional technician. The company has more than 60 years of national brand experience in the automotive equipment industry and a vast product line of more than 13,000 of the highest quality, innovative tools and accessories. The company’s franchise offering has been ranked as the #1 tools distribution franchise for five of the past seven years by Entrepreneur Magazine.
Initial corporate and ongoing local training create and build outstanding value for the franchisee’s business. For more information on Matco Tools products or franchise opportunities, visit www.matcotools.com.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional teams in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In Top Fuel, the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion Matco Tools dragster driven by Antron Brown and the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher and the Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher dragster driven by Spencer Massey; and in Funny Car, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Valvoline Max Life/MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors Dodge Charger R/T, 2011 world champion Matt Hagan in the Magneti Marelli. Offered by Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Pitch Energy Dodge of Johnny Gray.
DSR has won 214 NHRA national event titles and 11 world championships.