BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 1, 2014) – It was a successful regular season for Antron Brown and Don Schumacher Racing’s Matco Tools Top Fuel team.

The Matco bunch won a category-best five races during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ 18-race regular season, along with receiving a multi-year contract extension with Matco.

Now, the team has a new goal: to win a second NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world championship in three years.

It was an uncharacteristic Labor Day Weekend in the U.S. Nationals that saw Brown qualify 16th in the quickest Top Fuel field in NHRA history and lose to DSR and U.S. Army Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the opening round of eliminations on Monday morning at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Schumacher, the No. 1 qualifier, posted a lap of 3.793 seconds, while Brown’s Matco rail dropped an engine cylinder early on the lap and were slower at 3.854 seconds.

“It certainly wasn’t the U.S. Nationals that we wanted to have,” Brown said of the team’s performance at the 60th annual U.S. Nationals. “We came out here and fought hard and put up a good fight, but it just wasn’t our weekend. We have a week off and we’re going to go back to the shop and regroup and get ready for what’s next and that’s to try and win the world championship.

The Matco team turned the page on Indy and will now concentrate its efforts on the start of the Countdown to the Championship on Sept. 12 at zMax Dragway at Concord, N.C., near Charlotte. Brown will trail points-leader Doug Kalitta by 30 points when points are reset to start the playoff.

“We’re starting off in a good spot at No. 2 and we’re going to work hard, come in lean and mean for Charlotte in two weeks and get ready for a six-race battle.

“We’re confident,” Brown said of his team’s chances in the Countdown. “All the teams are on their A-game and you can’t slip and this weekend we did. We slipped here at Indy. We got our bad weekend out of the way and NHRA drag racing can be that way. We have to get ready for Charlotte and be poised and ready and be in attack mode. This race gave us a wake-up call.”

Brown, who won the Four-Wide Nationals at zMax this spring, won the fall Charlotte race to open the Countdown three years ago. A zMax double-up in 2014 would be the perfect rebound race for the Matco Tools team and just the start to the Countdown they are looking for.

Winner: Richie Crampton (Morgan Lucas Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Tony Schumacher (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.748 sec., 328.54 mph

ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying Position: No. 16
First round: Tony Schumacher (3.7932 sec., 324.75 mph) def. BROWN (3.859, 313.07)
FRIDAY: 4.056 sec., 281.36 mph, Session 1
SATURDAY: 3.854, 314.46, Session 2; 3.833, 320.20, Session 3
SUNDAY: 4.660, 171.14, Session 4; 3.845, 316.25, Session 5

(Unofficial after 18 of 24 events and end of regular season); DSR drivers in CAPS

driver (wins)                        points     behind
1.Doug Kalitta (2)                1,479       ——
2.ANTRON BROWN (5)       1,385        -94
3.Shawn Langdon (1)          1,261      -218
4.TONY SCHUMACHER (2)  1,160      -309
5.Steve Torrence                  1,075     -404
6.SPENCER MASSEY (2)        985      -494
7.Khalid alBalooshi (2)            959      -520
8.Richie Crampton (2)             958      -521
9.Brittany Force                       921      -558
10.JR Todd (1)                         805     -674

(Standings and reset points for contestants qualified for the Countdown to the Championship)

driver (wins)                          points behind
1. Doug Kalitta (2)                         —-
2. ANTRON BROWN (5)                -30
3. Shawn Langdon (1)                   -40
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (2)          -50
5. Steve Torrence                         -60
6. SPENCER MASSEY (2)             -70
7. Khalid alBalooshi (2)                 -80
8. Richie Crampton (2)                  -90
9. Brittany Force                          -100
10. JR Todd (1)                            -110