Antron’s Sandvik Coromant/Matco Tools team rallies after subpar qualifying performance to advance to Seattle championship round
KENT, Wash. (Aug. 3, 2014) – Antron Brown and the Sandvik Coromant/Matco Tools team wanted something more Sunday than their sixth title of the year in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Antron and his team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald have been chasing the points lead since losing it in April after the sixth race of the 24-event season and could have made up ground to leader Doug Kalitta.
While Antron advanced to Sunday’s championship round of the Northwest NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle, so did Kalitta and Kalitta edged Antron at the finish line to win the Northwest title and extend his points lead to 76 points. (Each round of eliminations is worth 20 points.)
Antron’s time of 3.887 seconds at 311.70 mph in the championship round nearly beat Kalitta’s 3.844 (318.84).
“All in all it was a great day for our Sandvik Coromant/Matco Tools team,” Antron said. “We threw our best shot out there and we thought it would be good enough to win but they just threw a monster run out there. They got us this weekend.”
Antron and his team showed resiliency after its weakest qualifying effort of the season when they started Sunday seeded 12th in the 16-car field. Their previous worst start was ninth at two races.
The Sandvik Coromant/Matco team started the day upsetting Bob Vandergriff and followed with a win over Richie Crampton. In the semifinals, Antron defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher, who was the No. 1 qualifier.
“We had some trouble in qualifying but we definitely rebounded today,” Antron said. “That just shows you the fight that we have in this team to win after struggling in qualifying.”
While most other teams in the Mello Yello series will enjoy next weekend at home after completing the grueling “Western Swing” – three races in three weeks – and seven over the past eight weeks, Antron and his team will compete in the “Night Under Fire” special non-points event at Summit Motorsports Park at Norwalk in Northern Ohio.
The series resumes Aug. 15-17 at Brainerd, Minn., in the next-to-last race of the Mello Yello regular season after which the top-10 drivers will be determined for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff when points will be reset.
When the Countdown opens, the points leader will have a 30-point edge over the No. 2 driver.
“We’ll just keep our heads down and get after it in Brainerd and Indy to end our regular season, and see if we can make some points up on those Kalitta boys and sneak around them before the Countdown starts.
“We’re still in the fight and we’re not giving up. We are ready for a heckuva fight. That was a monster blow by them today in the final round. But that’s alright, we’ll be back.”
The following are results from the Northwest Nationals and unofficial standings:
Event winner: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports)
No. 1 Qualifier: Tony Schumacher (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.804 sec., 320.20 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Sandvik Coromant/ Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying Position: No. 12
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMATIONS
FIRST ROUND: BROWN (3.828 sec., 317.79 mph) vs. Bob Vandergriff Jr. (redlight); QUARTERFINALS: BROWN (3.866, 309.77) def. Richie Crampton (10.822, 70.61); SEMIFINALS: BROWN (3.883, 312.13) def. Tony Schumacher (3.944, 295.66); FINAL: Doug Kalitta (3.844, 318.84) def. BROWN (3.887, 311.70)
FRIDAY: 4.307 sec., 193.05 mph, (Session 1); 3.884, 309.34, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 6.874, 87.53, (Session 3); 4.741, 159.97, Session (4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Unofficial after 16 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) points behind
1.* Doug Kalitta (2) 1,345 —-
2.* ANTRON BROWN (5) 1,269 -76
3.* Shawn Langdon (1) 1,146 -199
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 999 -346
5. Steve Torrence 920 -425
6. SPENCER Massey (2) 895 -450
7. Brittany Force 856 -489
8. Khalid alBalooshi (2) 855 -490
9. Richie Crampton (1) 808 -537
10. JR Todd (1) 774 -571