BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 9, 2014) – One of the last developments Antron Brown and the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team wanted two weeks ago at the biggest drag race of the season was its worst qualifying effort through 18 events and a first-round loss within 10 miles of where Antron and nearly all of his crew live.

Matco crew chiefs Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, assistant Brad Mason and the crew didn’t waste time making certain the problem was quickly corrected by heading back to Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis for testing a couple days later.

“We found out what was plaguing us,” said Antron, the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion. “The problem hasn’t been our ability to make power but we weren’t able to keep all of our holes (engine cylinders) lit. Brian, Mark, Brad and all of our Matco crew worked really hard. We made one run Wednesday night and three on Thursday after the U.S. Nationals just to make sure we found the culprit.

“We’re going to Charlotte with a really good feeling now, and we’re definitely going to be back to where we need to be. We’re ready to get after it.”

The surprisingly subpar performance for the team that has won a Top Fuel-best five event titles this season and ranks second in championship points see it as positive in that it didn’t happen this weekend near Charlotte in the first of six events of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoff.

A year ago at zMAX Dragway next to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Antron and his team did not qualify for the Countdown opener. It was only the second time in the past six years that they did not race on championship eliminations day.

“We didn’t have a mechanical problem at Charlotte a year ago,” he said. “We went out too aggressive for the track and then when we backed off the track got aggressive. It just bit us.

That dug a deep hole that prevented the Matco Tools team from defending its world championship despite winning two of last year’s final four Mello Yello event titles that helped rally the team to finish second in points for the third time since Antron turned pro in 1998.

“We’re going zMAX trying to put down a good solid qualifying lap the first time out and then keep improving.

“We’re sitting in a good spot for our plan of attack.”

Antron Brown, Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster
Last event (Sept. 1, Indianapolis): Qualified No. 16; lost in first round to Tony Schumacher
Traxxas Nitro Shootout (Aug. 30): lost in first round to Richie Crampton
4-Wide this spring at zMAX: Did not qualify (No. 17)
Last fall at zMAX: Qualified No. 7; lost to Morgan Lucas in championship round
Career fall at zMAX: Wins 1 (2011); Runner-ups 1 (2004-Pro Stock Motorcycle); Poles 0
Career at zMAX: Wins 1 (2011); Runner-ups 1 2008; Poles 0

         Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 2nd    18          5        2       4     2       5        3        0       35-13
CAREER     304      46       40     62   84     69     37       3     511-255
Best Time, Speed: 3.701*/** sec. (10- 8-12, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (10-8-12, Reading)
* Quickest ever/** NHRA record

(Points reset for contenders in six-race Countdown that opens Sept. 12-14 near Charlotte; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins)                                 points   behind
1. Doug Kalitta (2)                        2,110     ——
2. ANTRON BROWN (5)              2,080      -30
3. Shawn Langdon (1)                  2,070      -40
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (2)       2,060      -50
5. Steve Torrence                         2,050      -60
6. SPENCER Massey (2)              2,040     -70
7. Khalid alBalooshi (2)                 2,030     -80
8. Richie Crampton (2)                  2,020     -90
9. Brittany Force                            2,010   -100
10. JR Todd (1)                              2,000  -110