MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 29, 2013) – When Antron Brown walks onto the stage Monday night at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, he will be honored for winning the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world championship during the 28th annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.
When he’s introduced along with such world famous athletes as James Worthy, Terry Bradshaw, Dave Winfield, Shawn Johnson and Nick Faldo by emcee Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, Williams can add that Brown also is the most recent winner in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Brown with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald along with members of the Toyota/Matco Tools team put their Don Schumacher Racing dragster into the winner’s circle Sunday after winning the AAA Insurance Midwest NHRA Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
It is the team’s third title of the season but first since May near Atlanta and the first time the team advanced to the semifinals since July 28 at Sonoma, Calif.
The victory kept Brown’s hopes of defending his championship alive but with three events left in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship he trails points leader Shawn Langdon by 102 points and knows there still is a hill to climb.
“Our goal from here on out is to go race like every race is the last race. We’re going to push hard; we’re going to push really hard,” said Brown, who won his 40th NHRA title including 24 in Top Fuel. “Hopefully we can go out and qualify in the top half of the field again next weekend (at Maple Grove Raceway at Reading, Pa.) then we’ll take it one round at a time.
“At the next two races if we can creep up and gain some points here and there, we can go into that last race in Pomona (Calif.) with a shot at it. All we want is to have a shot to win the championship again. It’s still in our scope, so we’re not going to let that go. And, we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
Brown, who qualified sixth at Gateway, beat DSR teammate Tony Schumacher in the semifinals before using a run of 3.788 seconds at 322.88 mph to top Khalid alBalooshi’s 3.833 seconds (319.98) for Al-Anabi Racing.
It was Brown’s first win over Schumacher in six meetings this season.
“The thing about it is every race is a dogfight right now,” Brown said. “It doesn’t get any tougher than having Tony and the U.S. Army car sitting next to you. They put up a monster run in the second round and we ran a 3.80. Brian and Mark felt like we simply needed to speed the car up in the middle of the track a little bit. We knew we had to step up to the plate if we were going to take them out. We sped up our car up and it was flawless.
“That really helped us have a plan for the final. We knew that we were in for another fight with those Al-Anabi Racing guys. Brian and Mark softened it up in a couple of areas where it was real edgy in the run against Tony and it went right down the track. They gave me a great race car this weekend, and I was just letting it do what it do.”
The following is a summary of Brown’s weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park and updated standings:
TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
Event winner: ANTRON BROWN, Don Schumacher Racing
No. 1 Qualifier: Shawn Langdon (Al-Anabi Racing) 3.761 sec., 326.40 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Toyota/Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6
Round 1: BROWN (3.827 sec., 318.24 mph) def. Billy Torrence (5.454, 134.59)
Round 2: BROWN (3.805, 321.68) def. Clay Millican (4.837, 134.52)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.783, 322.88) def. Tony Schumacher (3.834, 322.42)
Final: BROWN (3.788, 323.97) def. Khalid alBalooshi (3.833, 319.98 mph)
First session: 3.923, 306.12
Second session: 3.796, 318.24
Third session: 4.241, 200.77
Fourth session: 3.855, 316.90
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Sept. 29 near St. Louis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Shawn Langdon 2,317 (–)
2. Doug Kalitta 2,284 (-33)
3. SPENCER MASSEY 2,282 (-35)
4. Morgan Lucas 2,272 (-45)
5. TONY SCHUMACHER 2,245 (-62)
6. ANTRON BROWN 2,215 (-102)
7. Clay Millican 2,198 (-119)
8. Khalid alBalooshi 2,192 (-125)
9. Bob Vandergriff 2,134 (-183)
10. Steve Torrence 2,115 (-202)
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), BROWN.