BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 16, 2014) – The always energetic Antron Brown has a flair for the dramatic. Brown and his Matco Tools team took advantage of late afternoon cloud cover in central Minnesota to claim his 37th career No. 1 qualifying position on the final Top Fuel pass of the day.
Brown, whose Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald-tuned dragster was the quickest of both sessions on Saturday, used a lap of 3.810 seconds at 318.77 mph to earn his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season and third at Brainerd International Raceway. It’s his first Top Fuel pole at BIR after scoring two in Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001, 2004).
“That’s what we were planning on,” Brown said of his pole-winning effort. “We were pushing to run better. The first run of the day, the track was still hot so we knew we wouldn’t be running for the No. 1 spot. But the cloud cover came in and everything looked good, so we pushed for it. We tried to get an .80 flat, a (3.)79, but it’s so humid out there, and even though the cloud cover came around, it’s tough to make power up here at Brainerd. The track is just tight and it kind of takes from your car.
“We looked at Tony and Langdon in front of us and thought they were about to run really good. But it’s just tricky to get down, sometimes. My guys just did an incredible job, the whole Matco Tools, U.S. Army, Toyota boys did an incredible job. We’ll take that No. 1.”
Brown has a keen liking for the Brainerd track. Five of his 46 career NHRA wins have come at the Minnesota facility, four in Pro Stock Motorcycle and one in Top Fuel. Brown and then DSR teammate Johnny Gray scored a DSR nitro double-up in 2012 at Brainerd.
“That’s three more bonus points, and a couple of points for first,” Brown said of his points battle with leader Doug Kalitta. “We’ll just keep on chipping and try to get closer and closer to Kalitta a little bit. Tomorrow we’ll just take it one round at a time. We’ve got that tough first-round matchup against J.R. Todd and we’re going to go after it. It’s not going to be easy out there so we might as well go out there in the first round and get to racing.”
Brown enters Sunday’s final eliminations trailing Kalitta by 72 points or less than four rounds of racing. Teams earn 20 points for each elimination round win. The Matco Tools team has a category-best five NHRA Mello Yello wins this season.
No. 1 Qualifier: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.810 sec., 318.77 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying Position: No. 1
First round opponent: J.R. Todd (No. 16)
FRIDAY: 3.890 sec., 307.93 mph (Session 1), 3.827, 316.38 (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.845, 315.34 (Session 3), 3.810, 318.77 (Session 4)