BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Nov. 5, 2013) – Antron Brown’s Matco Tools team has had a bookend season with a strong start being matched by a strong finish as the reigning Top Fuel champion of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Brown won two of the first seven events this season, and has won two of the last three.
In between, however, the Matco Tools team stumbled and fell what seemed to be out of contention to win back-to-back championships when he was ranked ninth in points after the first race in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship when the team did not qualify for the playoff opener near Charlotte.
A hard charge over the last three Countdown events shows the team’s resilience that has driven Brown back into title contention.
Brown’s Don Schumacher Racing team was in the winner’s circle two weeks ago at Las Vegas and three weeks before that near Reading, Pa. That would have seemed to be enough for him to be closer than 102 points to leader Shawn Langdon heading to Pomona, Calif., where the finale to the 24-race season begins Thursday.
The most points a driver can earn at Pomona is 150, which includes a 20-point bonus for an NHRA elapsed time record, which the team set last year on Oct. 8 at 3.701 seconds at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.
“We know Langdon has a good points lead, and he really has to mess up out there,” Brown said. “And we have to win the race and maybe set a record to catch him. We’ll give it our all and see where everything lands.”
Despite winning two titles in the past three Countdown events and finishing as the runner-up to Langdon in the other, Brown barely has made up ground on Langdon.
“All the hard work is finally paying off,” Brown said. “We just never quit even with all the struggles we went through in mid-season and starting the Countdown. The results have been showing that.
“We’ve just wanted to be able to go to Pomona and be able to contend for the championship.”
And the Matco team will get that chance.
“It’s hard to go out there and predict what another team will do; it’s Langdon’s championship to lose right now. We’d like to go out there and be the spoiler.”
And to the spoiler would go the championship.
The following are Brown’s statistics and other event information for the NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif.:
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools dragster
Last event (Oct. 27, Las Vegas): Qualified No. 6; defeated Clay Millican in championship round.
February at Pomona: Qualified No. 4; advanced to semifinals where he was unable to race after a second-round crash destroyed his dragster although he was uninjured.
Last year at Pomona Finals: Qualified No. 10; lost in first round to teammate Spencer Massey but clinched the 2012 world championship.
Career at Pomona Winternationals: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (2012, 2009); Poles 2(2009, 2008)
Career at Pomona Finals: Wins 3 (2010, 2009, 1999-Pro Stock Motorcycle); Runner-ups 2 (2004-PSM, 2003-PSM); Poles 0
Career at Pomona: Wins 3; Runner-ups 4; Poles 2
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi 2nd rd 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2013 2nd 23 4 2 4 2 10 2 1 32-18
Career 285 41* 38 58 81 64 34 3 475-241
*25 TF/16 Pro Stock Motorcycle
Career Best Time, Speed: 3.701*/** (10- 8-12, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 (10-8-12, Reading); * Quickest ever/** NHRA record
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(After Las Vegas, 23rd of 24 events; 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
REGULAR SEASON WINNERS: Langdon, SCHUMACHER, BROWN, SCHUMACHER, MASSEY, Vandergriff, BROWN, Langdon, Langdon, Steve Torrence, MASSEY, SCHUMACHER, alBalooshi, MASSEY, Langdon, Lucas, MASSEY, Langdon.
COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Lucas (Charlotte), Doug Kalitta (Dallas), BROWN (St. Louis), Langdon (Reading), BROWN (Las Vegas).
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. 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)
AUTO CLUB FINALS AT POMONA, CALIF.
SCHEDULE (times are PT)
Thursday: Nitro qualifying, 2:30 p.m.,
Friday: Nitro qualifying, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday: Nitro qualifying, 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.
ON ESPN2 (times are ET)
Sunday: Qualifying, 2:30 a.m. (delayed)
Sunday: Qualifying (re-air), 2 p.m.; Eliminations, 7 p.m. (delayed)
(As of Nov. 5)
Thursday: High 84; 00 percent chance of rain
Friday: High 76; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 73; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 71; 0 percent chance of rain