COMMERCE, Ga. (May 19, 2014) – The extended weekend at Atlanta Dragway will rank among the most memorable NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events for Antron Brown.
And all things considered, losing in Monday’s rain-delayed championship eliminations in the semifinals was disappointing but paled when compared to other events that occurred to the Matco Tools team during the NHRA Southern Nationals.
On Friday night after one of several rain delays during the extended event, he was uninjured in an explosion that led to the destruction of the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team’s primary race car that had won three of the season’s first six events.
Falling to second in points heading this weekend’s Mello Yello event at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas is something worth putting into perspective.
And it was a testament to the caliber of team members with whom he shares the Matco Tools banner led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald along with team manager Brad Mason was able to outfit their back-up car in time to earn the No. 3 qualifying spot Saturday night and win two elimination rounds.
“It was a great rebound from what happened Friday night and, the thing about it is, we wanted this race badly,” said Antron, who has won five of the last 10 event titles and was the event’s defending champion. “It would have been awesome to get this race. But we’re not upset about it. We came back, we brought another car out and it performed just like we wanted it to.”
On Monday, the Matco Tools team produced the second quickest run in the first round with a time of 3.799 seconds at 319.14 mph and then followed that with a 3.744 (324.20) for the quickest of the day.
But a mechanical problem led to his car losing traction in the semifinals against DSR teammate Spencer Massey, who advanced to the championship round.
“Actually, something malfunctioned with our clutch controller,” Antron said. “They’ll figure it out. It had a leak or something. The second-round (run) was exactly what Brian and Mark and the Matco Tools boys wanted.”
Antron’s team and the other six DSR units head directly to Topeka, Kan., to arrive Thursday to prepare for the start of the race on Friday.
“We’re going to Topeka and we’ve got our game faces on,” Antron said. “Sometimes you take a step backward but we’re all about going forward. We’re going to go there with a full head of steam and be on point, be focused and ready.
“We’ve got a lot of work cut out for us but we’re looking forward to it and we’re just going to make things even better.”
Event winner: Spencer Massey (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.732 sec., 328.86 mph (track records)
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3
FIRST ROUND: BROWN (3.799 sec., 319.14 mph) def. Ike Maier (8.466, 145.61); QUARTERFINALS: BROWN (3.744, 324.20) def. Pat Dakin (3.829, 313.58); SEMIFINALS: Spencer Massey (3.816, 322.65) def. BROWN (4.520, 188.80)
FRIDAY: 3.854 sec., 312.42 mph, (Session 1); 3.788, 318.69 (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.833, 289.82, (Session 3); 3.764, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(unofficial through Atlanta)
driver (wins), points
1. Doug Kalitta (1), 649
2. ANTRON BROWN (3), 642
3. Steve Torrence (0), 503
4. Shawn Langdon (0), 461
5. SPENCER MASSEY (1), 454
6. Khalid alBalooshi (1), 413
7. TONY SCHUMACHER (1), 407
8. Brittany Force (0), 336
9. Richie Crampton (0), 257
10. J.R. Todd (0), 257