Antron, Match team bolt to No. 2 seed with last qualifying run heading to Sunday’s Gatornationals championship eliminations
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2014) – Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald could pull off a unique double on Sunday during championship eliminations of the 45th annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.
The 2012 Top Fuel world champions that finished second in the championship running last season, won at the last Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event two weeks ago near Phoenix and a year ago in the Gatornationals.
“We’re going to race hard and go out there to win,” he said after earning the No. 2 qualifying spot on his fourth and final qualifying pass. “It doesn’t matter what we did at the last race or here a year ago. We’re not worrying about what we did. We just want to go out Sunday and take it one round at a time and continue with our work ethic and hopefully it pays off.”
Antron’s trip to the winner’s circle at the last event was the 42nd of his career including 16 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Last year’s title run at Gainesville marked Antron’s first victory at the fabled track after runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2010. The Wally trophy also was the 200th for Don Schumacher Racing.
“I’ll always remember our last time at Gainesville as a career highlight,” Antron said. “Winning at a track where I dreamed of just racing at as a kid was memorable, and that being able to give Don his 200th trophy along with all of our other drivers that made it even more special.
“On Sunday, we just want to keep our Matco dragster winning. It’s only the third race of the year and we have 21 left but any round-win can determine if you’re going to get the championship.”
The focus of the Matco team shifts from lane conditions under sunny skies during two days of qualifying that kept the nitro-fueled cars to their slowest performances through three events to Sunday’s anticipated partly cloudy skies.
“The track’s been a little loose for us so we haven’t been able to run those 3.70s that we’re used to seeing,” Antron said of his last three qualifying runs of that ranged between 3.804 and 3.868. His last run of 3.804 (320.43) came very close to being only the third 3.7-second qualifying run of the weekend.
“We got after it on the last run and tried to step it up,” he said. He jumped two spots from No. 4 that prevented a DSR first-round match-up between Antron and teammate Spencer Massey, who qualified No. 11.
Antron is dedicating the race to his father, Albert, who will be 63 on Sunday, and his uncle Andre, who turned 62 on Saturday.
No. 1 Qualifier: Shawn Langdon (Al-Anabi Racing), 3.776 sec., 325.37 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2
First Round: BROWN vs. Sidnei Frigo
FRIDAY: 4.241 sec., 210.41 mph, (Session 1); 3.836, 315.78 (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.868, 307.58 (Session 3); 3.804, 320.43, (Session 4)