LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27, 2013) – When Antron Brown was one of the country’s top sprinters in junior college, he never quit a race because he was behind.
And he doesn’t plan to start doing it now.
Brown and his Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” Top Fuel dragster led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald won the title Sunday in the NHRA Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas that moved him from fourth to second in Mello Yello Series standings with one event remaining.
The reigning Top Fuel world champion will arrive in two weeks at Pomona, Calif., trailing points leader Shawn Langdon by 102 points. Brown is the only driver with a chance to catch Langdon.
The most points a driver can earn at Pomona are 150.
“Going to Pomona, we’ll stick with our usual mindset that it’s never done until the last race of the year,” he said. “We’re going to give it all we’ve got. We’ll try and get all the qualifying points we can, qualify in the top half of the field, take it one round at a time and see where we end up.
“This just couldn’t have been a better weekend, and we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and see if we can win this championship.”
Brown qualified sixth but was dominant through Sunday’s four rounds of eliminations by winning with times of 3.790 seconds (323.19 mph), 3.808 (323.58), 3.788 (326.16) and 3.782 (324.51) in the championship round against Clay Millican.
“We’ve been hoping and praying, and the Good Lord has been blessing us – we’ve had the jars out and he sure is filling them right now, so anything is possible,” said Brown, who won his fourth title of the season and the 41st of his career.
“Mark, Brian and all of our Matco boys have been working so hard.”
While the win was important to Brown because it extends his championship hopes and it was at an event sponsored by one of his supporters, Toyota, he also was able to win while helping the Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” campaign to help the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.
“We know breast cancer affects everybody all across the world, so it’s good to give something back for something really, really special,” he said. “And just to win a Toyota race, it feels so good.
“Hats off to all of our boys,” said Brown, who was ninth in points after the first of six Countdown events. “We’ve just been working hard. We struggled during the middle of the year, but what I’m most proud of is just the way we kept our heads down and we never gave up. When mishaps were happening in the middle of the season, we just put our heads down and we worked harder.”
The following are Brown’s results from the NHRA Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
Event winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Shawn Langdon (Al-Anabi Racing) 3.778 sec., 324.28 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6
First round: BROWN (3.790 sec., 323.19) def. Bob Vandergriff (9.648, 77.05)
Second round: BROWN (3.808, 323.58) def. Tony Schumacher (4.260, 212.73)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.788, 326.16) def. Brandon Bernstein (3.921, 288.77)
Finals: BROWN (3.782, 324.51) def. Clay Millican (3.822, 322.50)
First session: 6.666 sec., 75.06 mph
Second session: 3.820, 317.94
Third session: 3.813, 321.88
Fourth session: 3.808, 321.96
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Las Vegas qualifying, DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Shawn Langdon 2,530
2. ANTRON BROWN 2,428 (-102)
*3. Doug Kalitta 2,392 (-138)
*4. SPENCER MASSEY 2,388 (-142)
*5. Morgan Lucas 2,367 (-163)
*6. TONY SCHUMACHER 2,363 (-167)
*7. Clay Millican 2,326 (-204)
*8. Khalid alBalooshi 2,254 (-276)
*9. Bob Vandergriff 2,219 (-311)
*10. Steve Torrence 2,166 (-364)
* eliminated from championship contention
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Sept. 13-15 zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.
(Finals: TF – Lucas def. MASSEY; FC – Hight def. HAGAN)
Sept. 19-22 Texas Motorplex, Dallas
(Finals: TF – Kalitta def. Langdon; FC- C. Pedregon def. J. Force)
Sept. 27-29 Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
(Finals: TF – BROWN def. alBalooshi; FC – J. Force def. BECKMAN)
Oct. 3-6 Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
(Finals: TF – Langdon def. BROWN; FC – J. Force def. Chad Head)
Oct. 24-27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
(Finals: TF – – BROWN def. Millican; FC – J. Force def. C. Force)
Nov. 7-10 Auto Club Raceway, Pomona, Calif. (final event of 2013)