Matco Tools team, Brown continue to show poise, championship form on two-race winning streak heading to Denver
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 15, 2014) – Antron Brown is one of only eight NHRA drivers whose teams can boast of sweeping the annual Western Swing.
The grueling three-race, 5,400-mile journey in three weeks begins this weekend near Denver then heads to Sonoma, Calif., before concluding near Seattle on Aug. 3.
It takes an exceptional race car and team to win one NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title, let alone three in a row at tracks ranging from being mile-high to at sea level.
Above all, it takes teamwork.
And none have proven this year to be more resilient than Antron and his Matco Tools Top Fuel team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason.
The 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champions have won the past two Mello Yello titles and lead the series with five trophies in 13 events, and are within 48 points regaining the No. 1 spot in the standings. (One round win on Sunday pays 20 points.)
The Matco team swept the Western Swing in 2009 and two years ago won the first two legs – Denver and Sonoma. Despite falling short of another sweep, the team went on to win the championship.
Antron, who owns 46 NHRA titles including 30 in Top Fuel, has been inspired by the way his Matco team has rebounded from adversity this year. After winning three of this season’s first six events, the team lost its primary racecar in a crash at Atlanta Dragway. Three weeks later, Don Schumacher Racing fabricators created a new one and the Matco team assembled it flawlessly as it has won two of the four events in which it has competed.
At Norwalk two weeks ago, the team was faced with another challenge before the championship round when the engine began smoking during its warm-up about 20 minutes before the final run.
“That is the closest we’ve been to not making it to the starting line in time for a final round,” Antron said.
“Our Matco boys were talking back and forth while they found the problem and fixed it. The communication was unparalleled. Nobody got in a panic. Nobody got in a rush. I prayed, ‘Lord, just give us the strength to get through it.’
“The experience to stay poised and collect ourselves definitely played a part in it. I could have been a wreck up there at the line wondering if the car was right, and the boys could have been too. But that’s how much I believe and trust in my team.”
He added, “They put that car back together to perfection, and we pulled out that win. That gives you the sense of confidence that this is a championship team. That’s what it takes to win championships, when you can pull through those tough times like we did. It’s just a blessing to be on a team with a good group of boys like that.”
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster
Last event Norwalk, Ohio (July 6): Qualified No. 3; defeated Shawn Langdon in championship round
A year ago at Denver: Qualified No. 12; lost in first round to Shawn Langdon
Career at Denver: Wins 2 (2012, 2009); Runner-ups 4 (TF- 2008; PSM-2005, 2001,1999); Poles 3 (TF-2010, 2009; PSM-2001
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 2nd 13 5 1 3 1 3 2 0 29-8
CAREER 299 46 39 61 83 67 36 3 505-250
Best Time, Speed: 3.701*/** sec. (10- 8-12, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (10-8-12, Reading)
* Quickest ever/** NHRA record
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Official after 13 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) pts behind
1. Doug Kalitta (1) 1,130 —-
2. ANTRON BROWN (5) 1,082 -48
3. Shawn Langdon (1) 938 -192
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 785 -345
5. SPENCER MASSEY (2) 780 -350
6. Steve Torrence 747 -383
7. Brittany Force 690 -440
8. Khalid alBalooshi (1) 652 -478
9. Richie Crampton (1) 626 -504
10. J.R. Todd 593 -537