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Brown, Matco team keeps last year’s shortened Winternationals in the past, ready for better start Sunday after qualifying third

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 8, 2014) – Antron Brown insists he only looks forward and never back but it’s hard for him to put last year’s Circle K NHRA Winternationals out of mind.

The 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion for Don Schumacher Racing won his quarterfinal race at Pomona, Calif., a year ago but crashed after crossing the finish line and his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster was destroyed so he was unable to make the call for the semifinals.

After starting Saturday’s final day of qualifying holding the provisional pole, he fell to third after the last session heading to Sunday’s championship eliminations that begin at 11 a.m. (PST).

“It’s always good to start the season off on a strong note and especially here at Pomona after what happened last year,” said Brown, whose Matco team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald won four event titles a year ago and finished the year ranked second in points.

“We’ve never won the Winternationals to start the season,” Brown said. “That would be great but we know we have to take it one round at time because if a team is good enough to qualify here then it’s good enough to beat you if you’re not on your game.”

Including pre-season testing last month in South Florida, the Matco team started Saturday with six consecutive runs in the 3.7-second range. After losing traction on its first run Saturday the streak was snapped but the Matco team rallied on its last qualifying attempt to produce a 3.735-second run at 324.67 mph.

“We have a great race car. Our Matco team is amped up and primed to get after it. The competition is looking tough out here, but we’re ready for the challenge.

“We had a really good off season with testing so we’re ready to put all of our hard work to use and go after it Sunday in first round.

TOP FUEL

No. 1 Qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.713 seconds (track record), 327.98 mph

ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 3

QUALIFYING

FRIDAY: 3.798 sec., 318.17 mph (Session 1), 3.731, 326.00 (Session 2)

SATURDAY: 5.089, 139.76 (Session 3); 3.735, 324.67 (Session 4)

SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS

First round: BROWN vs. Clay Millican

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