POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2014) – On rare occasions when Antron Brown’s day ends in the opening round of an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event he’s eager to hop a plane and rush home to be with his family in Pittsboro, Ind.
When the 2012 Top Fuel world champion was eliminated Sunday in the first round of the season-opening Circle K Winternationals, instead of heading back to Indiana to be with his wife, Billie Jo, and their three children, he was going to be with his second family.
Brown, who qualified third for championship eliminations at Pomona, Calif., was to fly Sunday night to San Antonio for a couple days at the Matco Tools Expo 2014 where about 1,000 Matco distributors will give him a warm welcome regardless of what happened at Pomona.
“I wanted to take the Winternationals Wally (trophy) to the Expo and share it with my Matco family, but they’ll just have to settle for me,” he joked.
Brown and his Matco team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald held the Winternationals provisional pole position until Saturday evening’s last qualifying session and they dropped to the No. 3 seed heading to Sunday’s eliminations.
Despite having their choice of lanes against Clay Millican, the Matco dragster lost traction and slowed to a time of 4.076 seconds at 205.53 mph to Millican’s 3.797 (312.28).
“We went out there with our heads down and we were pressing,” Brown said. “We were going good down the track but it just couldn’t hold what we put down. The car was marching.
“When we got back to the pit, Brian and Mark looked at the (computer) graph and our Matco dragster was going to run a very low 3.70. It just didn’t hold what we threw down under these conditions (track temperature at 68 under an overcast sky with an ambient temperature in the mid 50s).
“It just puts a bad taste in our mouth because we’ve never won the Winternationals. We’ve won at a lot of other racetracks across the country and we’ve always wanted to win the Winternationals.
“It’s alright. We’ll have our game faces on when we get to Phoenix and give it all we’ve got. We’ll regroup and get ready for Phoenix.”
In two weeks, the Mello Yello series ventures to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly Firebird) near Phoenix where Brown has won twice, most recently in 2012.
Winner: Khalid alBalooshi (Al-Anabi Racing)
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
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)
First round: Clay Millican (3.797, 312.28) def. BROWN (4.076, 205.53).