BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 24, 2013) – Despite being eighth in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and trailing the points leader by 150 points with four events remaining, reigning Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown is confident that his Toyota Top Fuel dragster will gain critical momentum this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
After winning two of this year’s first seven events and advancing to the championship round in another, the Toyota/Matco Tools team has struggled to regain its championship form and is eager to return to the track where a year ago it was the No. 1 qualifier en route to winning of its six titles of the year.
“Our main focus is going to St. Louis in attack mode and leave with the title,” said Brown, who remained near Dallas Monday and made three successful test runs after he lost in Sunday’s second round of championship eliminations.
“St. Louis has always been a great race for us. We love going there and seeing what else (owner) Curtis Francois has done to make Gateway an even better facility.
“We’re amped up. We ran well there last year and hopefully we can start to light it up and end the year like we started.”
Through the first two of six events in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff, Brown didn’t qualify for the opener two weeks ago near Charlotte and could only muster a No. 14-spot for Sunday’s eliminations at the Texas Motorplex.
“This year has been a little rough on our Toyota/Matco Tools team. It hasn’t been something we’re used to have happen to us,” he said of losing in the opening round at eight of the past 13 events and not qualifying for another during that span.
“One thing that makes me so proud of this team is that we still have so much fight in us. We’re not letting what’s happened kick us in the butt. We’re taking it round by round, race by race.
“We’ll see where we end up at the end of the year and whatever happens we’ll know we gave it everything we had and then some. We’ll never throw in the towel, just keep giving it all we’ve got.”
Brown knows he and his team face a daunting task, but after Gateway the Mello Yello Series heads to Maple Grove Raceway at Reading, Pa., where last year he earned 20 bonus points for setting an NHRA elapsed time record en route to making the championship round.
“We know we’re 150 points out of the lead, but there are a lot of races left. We’re starting to see some things come around and going in the direction we want to go.”
ANTRON BROWN, Toyota/Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Last event (Sept. 20-22, Ennis, Texas): Qualified No. 14; lost in second round to teammate Spencer Massey.
A year ago at Gateway: Qualified No. 1; defeated teammate Spencer Massey in championship round.
Career at Gateway: Wins 2 (2012, 2009); runner-ups 1 (2005-Pro Stock Motorcycle); poles 3 (2012, 2004-PSM, 2001-PSM).
Pts Races Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2013 8th 20 2 1 4 2 10 2 1 21-17
CAREER 282 39* 37 58 81 64 34 3 464-240
*23 Top Fuel/16 Pro Stock Motorcycle
BEST TIME, SPEED
3.701 sec. */** (10- 8-12, Reading, Pa.) 328.78 mph (10-8-12, Reading); * quickest ever, ** NHRA record
MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES
NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Unofficial through Sept. 22 near Dallas; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Shawn Langdon 2,251 (—)
1. Doug Kalitta 2,251 (—)
3. SPENCER MASSEY 2,249 (-2)
4. Morgan Lucas 2,216 (-35)
5. TONY SCHUMACHER 2,163 (-88)
6. Clay Millican 2,140 (-111)
7. Bob Vandergriff 2,103 (-148)
8. ANTRON BROWN 2,101 (-150)
9. Khalid alBalooshi 2,097 (-154)
10. Steve Torrence 2,080 (-171)
2013 REGULAR SEASON WINNERS: Langdon, SCHUMACHER, BROWN, SCHUMACHER, MASSEY, Vandergriff, BROWN, Langdon, Langdon, Steve Torrence, MASSEY, SCHUMACHER, alBalooshi, MASSEY, Langdon, Lucas, MASSEY, Langdon.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Lucas (Charlotte), Doug Kalitta (Dallas).
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Sept. 13-15 – Charlotte, N.C.
(Finals: TF/Morgan Lucas def. MASSEY; FC/Hight def. HAGAN)
Sept. 19-22 – Texas Motorplex, Dallas
(Finals: TF/Doug Kalitta def. Langdon; FC/C. Pedregon def. J. Force).
Sept. 27-29 – Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
Oct. 3-6 – Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
Oct. 24-27 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
Nov. 7-10 – Auto Club Raceway, Pomona
(Times are ET)
Friday: 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Sunday: 8:30 p.m. (ET), championship eliminations, delayed
(As of Tuesday afternoon)
Friday: High 81; 10 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 82; 20 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 71; 40 percent chance of rain