POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9, 2013) – The resiliency exhibited by Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team during the last four events of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season truly has been worthy of world champions.
Brown has remained poised and confident in his Don Schumacher Racing team and was the best dragster over the past three events, but on Saturday he was eliminated from contention to repeat as the NHRA Top Fuel world champion.
Brown, who has won four titles this year, started Saturday’s last day of qualifying trailing leader Shawn Langdon by 104 points and despite cutting the gap to 101 in Saturday’s opening session when his time of 3.798 seconds at 320.58 mph was quickest of the heat to earn three bonus points while Langdon smoked the tires and was shut out.
Brown needed to earn three more as the quickest on the fourth and final session while Langdon could not earn any in order for Brown’s hopes to be extended to Sunday.
But both drivers lost traction on their last runs, and that made it mathematically impossible for him to catch Langdon, who takes a 104-point lead into Sunday when the most Brown could earn is 100.
“We both were going for it, you could tell,” Brown said. “The track was great and the car left really well. We were going for it, stepped on it, gave it our best shot, and we’ll never hang our heads. We just work as hard as we can each and every day.
“And we have a race tomorrow, four more rounds of racing. We’re looking forward to getting out there tomorrow because our car has run exceptionally well this weekend. It’s run exceptionally well the three races before this one.
“Our Matco/Toyota/U.S. Army team has worked hard and no one was going to give up until it was impossible to catch him,” Brown said, adding praise for crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, assistant Brad Mason and the rest of the crew.
“For the fourth straight race our team has been phenomenal and we’re going to finish out the year on a good note … that’s going to be determined by tomorrow’s outcome. We just want to go out, have some fun and win this race.”
The following are Brown’s qualifying results and other information about the NHRA Finals:
TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
No. 1 Qualifier: Shawn Langdon (Al-Anabi Racing) 3.750 sec., 327.03 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5
First-round opponent: Bob Vandergriff
Session No. 1: 3.787 sec., 323.74 mph
Session No. 2: 3.775, 322.42
Session No. 3: 3.798, 320.58
Session No. 4: 6.083, 107.70
AUTO CLUB FINALS AT POMONA, CALIF.
SCHEDULE (times are PT)
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.
ON ESPN2 (times are ET)
Sunday: Qualifying (re-air), 2 p.m.; Eliminations, 7 p.m. (delayed)
(As of Saturday afternoon)
Sunday: High 78; 0 percent chance of rain