CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 23, 2014) – Antron Brown is a fan favorite at NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events throughout the country but Sunday the crowd at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix might have been pulling for his opponent in the championship round.
Antron and his Matco Tools team faced Brittany Force, 27, in the final round, and while Antron was going for his 42nd Wally trophy it was the first final round for the second-year Top Fuel racer.
In one of the closest races of the day, Antron with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald along with assistant Brad Mason and the Matco Tools team produced a time of 3.755 seconds at 324.20 mph to Force’s 3.793 (322.04).
“She’s at a young stage of her career and she’s just getting better and better and you can tell it,” Antron said of John Force’s youngest daughter. “That’s how she got to the final.
“I didn’t look at who I was racing. None of these teams are out here to play games. It’s not recess anymore. School is in and you better have your thinking caps on and be ready to go. She was a strong competitor all day.”
It was the 42nd event title of his career, including 16 in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The 2012 Top Fuel world champion also registered the 220th title for DSR.
But Antron is focused on future races. After losing in the first round two weeks ago at Pomona, Calif., in the opener he knows the importance of getting the year’s first win.
“I have a lot of confidence when we get to the later rounds in racing. As the rounds go on, our team gets stronger and stronger. We have a great final round kick all the time. When we have to step up to the plate, we step up to the plate.”
Sunday marked his third Phoenix title in the past six years.
“We love coming to Phoenix. This place has been great to us. It’s an aggressive track. They revamped it, and Wild Horse Pass has done a phenomenal job on it. I get amped up every time I come here.
“We’ve had a lot of great wins here. I think that’s why this place holds a special place in my heart for what we’ve been through here and what we’ve accomplished here. It’s definitely one of the tracks that’s close to me and my whole team.”
Event winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports), 3.735 sec., 327.74 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5
First round: BROWN (3.825 sec., 314.83 mph) def. Richie Crampton (5.067, 149.48); Quarterfinals: BROWN (3.771, 322.34) def. Shawn Langdon (3.851, 291.95); Semifinals: BROWN (3.782, 321.81) def. Doug Kalitta (4.458, 250.04); Final: BROWN (3.755, 324.20) def. 3.793, 322.04).
FRIDAY: 6.099 sec., 105.44 mph, (Session 1); 3.793, 316.75, (Session 2). SATURDAY: 3.815, 319.67, (Session 3); 3.768, 323.27 (Session 4).
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Unofficial, Through Phoenix, second of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Doug Kalitta, 191
2. Khalid alBalooshi, 165
3. ANTRON BROWN, 156
4. Steve Torrence, 155
5. SPENCER MASSEY, 127
5t. Brittany Force, 127
7. Shawn Langdon, 124
8. TONY SCHUMACHER, 92
9. Richie Crampton, 84
9t. David Grubnic, 84