Brown, Matco Tools Top Fuel team warms up for Minnesota with exhibition race at Norwalk, ready to catch NHRA points leader
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 12, 2014) – Antron Brown and the Matco Tools Top Fuel team did nearly everything they could at the last NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event to take over the points lead.
Antron advanced to his seventh championship round but was stopped from gaining what would have been his series-best sixth event title by the driver he is chasing for the No. 1 spot.
The Matco team lost in the final round near Seattle to Doug Kalitta, who will carry a 76-lead over Antron heading to this weekend’s NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in central Minnesota.
The Matco team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason showed its resilience after qualifying No. 12 near Seattle with its worst qualifying effort of the year and marching into the final round.
“That’s why I keep saying we’ve got the best team out here,” Antron said. “Brian and Mark didn’t let a bad qualifying effort by us get them off track and Brad led our Matco boys to turning it around on Sunday.”
Brainerd has been a good track for Antron, who has won five titles there including four in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“Another example of how good our team is was on Saturday night at Norwalk where we threw down at the Night Under Fire,” he said of racing at special exhibition Night Under Fire at Norwalk, Ohio on Aug. 9. The NHRA Mello Yello series was at the northern Ohio track over Fourth of July weekend where the Matco team won their fifth event title of the season.
“Running four straight weekends didn’t affect our team at all and we got to test some new pieces on our race car. Our guys had raced seven the eight weekends before we went back to Norwalk, and they were as focused and worked as hard Saturday night like they were racing for Mello Yello points.”
That was evident when the Matco dragster recorded a 3.801-second run at 321.65 mph to beat John Force’s Funny Car in a unique Top Fuel versus Funny Car match-up.
“What impressed me more than the great Norwalk show was the work done by our Matco team. Our guys were tired and wanted to be home that night but they worked a lot harder than I did signing autographs.
“They probably won’t get a day off before they head for Brainerd. I’m so proud to be on the same time with them.”
The race in Brainerd and the U.S. Nationals two weeks later near Indianapolis will cap the 16-race regular season. After Indy, the top-10 drivers in each Mello Yello Series category qualify for the six-race Countdown playoff.
When the Countdown starts drivers racing for the championship and $500,000 bonus will have their points reset at 10-point increments but the regular season No. 1 also gets a 20-point bonus for a 30-point lead.
Antron Brown, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Last event Seattle (Aug. 3): Qualified No. 12: lost in championship round to Doug Kalitta
A year ago at Brainerd: Qualified No. 6; lost in first round to Doug Kalitta
Career at Brainerd: Wins 5 (TF: 2011; PSB: 2006, 2003, 2000-01); Runner-ups 1 (TF: 2012); Poles 2 (PSB: 2004, 2001)
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 2nd 16 5 2 3 2 4 0 0 33-11
CAREER 302 46 40 61 84 68 36 3 509-253
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 16 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS; * clinched spot in Countdown to the Championship)
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