JOLIET, Ill. (June 29, 2014) – It was a milestone day for Don Schumacher Racing in the backyard of its team owner led by Antron Brown who raced his Matco Tools dragster to its fourth win of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Series season.
Brown, who qualified the Matco rail in the No. 3 spot under the lights at the Route 66 Nationals on Saturday evening, tamed the tricky strip located in the Chicagoland suburbs behind the wheel of his Top Fuel dragster tuned by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald.
“The track got tricky on us,” Brown said after earning his 45th career NHRA event title. “We’ve been trying a new (engine) combination and it dropped a couple (cylinders) this weekend, but we were able to get the round wins. The Matco Tools guys are getting the car where it’s happy again and it was happy in that final round. When you get to the final and you know you’re racing someone like Brittany (Force) you have to put out your A-plus game because everybody we’re racing is bringing their A-plus game. Her (reaction time) lights were good all day.
“That was great to put a 3.81 out there in the final. Mark and Brian said we can run a low .80 and they were right. That’s special when your crew chiefs say that and the car goes out and does it.”
Brown, who began racing professionally in 1998, raced to his category-best fourth win of the season by defeating part-time runner Billy Torrence, Australian rookie Richie Crampton, veteran Clay Millican and popular second generation racer Brittany Force in the final round. The semifinal win over Millican was the 500th round win of Brown’s decorated multi-category career. He now stands at 501 with 279 coming in Top Fuel.
One year ago at Joliet, Brown’s DSR teammates Tony Schumacher and Matt Hagan earned the double-up wins for “The Shoe” at his home track. Last Sunday at Epping, N.H., Schumacher and Capps earned the 39th nitro double-up for team DSR. Brown and Hagan made that double-up No. 40 for the only team in NHRA history to earn wins in all four professional classes.
“It was so cool to see Matt (Hagan) and those Mopar boys get that monkey off their backs and get that win today,” Brown said of his Funny Car teammate’s first win since the 2013 season finale in California. “(Crew chief Dickie Venables) and that entire Mopar team has been working so hard, and I’m so proud of our Matco team with Toyota and the U.S. Army to step up to the plate and get the job done.
“To send Don home with two more Wally trophies is a special feeling. It’s always good to get some brownie points in front of the bossman’s friends and family.”
On the efforts of his 29th career Top Fuel win, Brown now trails first-place driver Doug Kalitta by 102 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel standings at the midway point on the 2014 schedule.
The NHRA tour next heads to Norwalk, Ohio, July 4-6, for the 13th event and the final of four consecutive races that began in Bristol, Tenn. on June 13. Brown’s sponsor, Matco Tools, is headquartered in Stow, Ohio, about an hour from the Norwalk track.
“Norwalk is one race we want and we want it really bad,” Brown said.
“To bring home that Wally trophy in front of all the Matco Tools folks would be awesome. It would be so cool to send the Norwalk Wally back to Stow next Sunday night and our team is up for the challenge.”
Event winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.767 sec., 327.43 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying Position: No. 3
FIRST ROUND: BROWN (3.803 sec., 319.07 mph) def. Billy Torrence (5.487, 125.40); QUARTERFINALS: BROWN (4.813, 221.85) def. Richie Crampton (5.899, 175.16); SEMIFINALS: BROWN (3.961, 308.64) def. Clay Millican (4.470, 196.30); FINAL: BROWN (3.814, 317.34) def. Brittany Force (3.850, 320.89)
FRIDAY: 3.859 sec., 322.65 mph, (Session 1); 3.808, 319.75, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.976 sec., 266.06 mph, (Session 3); 3.783, 312.42, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Unofficial after 12 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) points behind
1. Doug Kalitta (1) 1,065 —-
2. ANTRON BROWN (4) 963 -102
3. Shawn Langdon (1) 835 -230
4. SPENCER MASSEY (2) 74 -318
5. TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 71 -354
6. Steve Torrence 688 -387
8. Brittany Force 638 -427
7. Khalid alBalooshi (1) 620 -445
9. Richie Crampton (1) 600 -465
10. J.R. Todd 557 -508