Matco Tools team driving for more than victory at Maple Grove; ‘Tools for the Cause’ program honors those affected by breast cancer
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 30, 2014) – Antron Brown never lacks for drive but he will arrive at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., in ultra high gear.
He fresh off his sixth NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event title with his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team that got them back in the race for a second NHRA world championship in three years
The New Jersey native’s dragster will feature the “I Drive For” campaign on his driver’s suit and Top Fuel dragster beginning this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway. “I Drive For” is part of the annual Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” program to raise awareness and funds for Susan G. Komen® during national breast cancer awareness month that begins on Wednesday.
Matco Tools has raised more than $436,000 since 2012 for Komen, which funds breast cancer research and lifesaving community programs.
Joining the “I Drive For” effort this weekend at Maple Grove will be the DSR Funny Car driven by Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman, who won the NHRA Funny Car world championship in 2012 moments before Antron won the Top Fuel championship.
The cars driven by Antron and Jack will carry 1,350 names of those who have batted or are battling breast cancer that were submitted through Matco’s “I Drive For” social media campaign.
Antron will drive for his mother-in-law, Linda Matranga, a breast cancer survivor, as “I Drive For … Linda” will adorn his firesuit and side of his race car.
“October is a very important month for our series because it’s right in the middle of our Countdown (to the Championship) playoff,” he said, “but October means even more to our Matco Tools team here at DSR. My wife Billie Jo’s mother is a breast cancer survivor and this disease has affected our family as it has many others.
“I’m excited for the ‘I Drive For’ campaign to drive for Linda, and to drive for all those touched by this disease. We want to continue to drive awareness for such a great cause.”
The Matco Tools for the Cause program is focused on raising money to aid in the fight against breast cancer. As part of its 2014-15 program, Matco Tools has committed to donate at least $100,000 to Komen.
Antron will be joined at the track by family and friends from around his hometown of Chesterfield, N.J., who will be cheering for him to continue the comeback he started on Sunday in the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
A series of mysterious mechanical issues for three events contributed to subpar qualifying performances that put the team in the bottom half of the 16-car eliminations fields and led to three straight uncustomary first-round losses by the team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald.
The team arrived at Gateway ranked eighth and 153 points behind DSR teammate and points leader Tony Schumacher but will arrive at Maple Grove fourth and 80 points behind Schumacher.
“This was a big day for us,” Antron said of winning for the 47th time in his career and 31st in Top Fuel to give DSR its 236th event title.
And the driver’s reaction times excelled in the semifinals when he was quicker than Steve Torrence to leave the starting line that enabled the Matco dragster to eliminate the quicker car on that run.
It was Antron’s third straight win at Gateway and fourth in the past five years.
His week in Pennsylvania begins Thursday with a tech school visit to the Automotive Training Center Exton (114 Pickering Way, Exton, Pa. 19341) before he eagerly returns to the cockpit of his Matco Tools dragster.
Although he seeks his first Maple Grove title in three championship round appearances including each of the past two years, the track has been good to him. A major step toward winning the 2012 world championship came at the scenic track when he earned 20 bonus points for setting an NHRA track record that remains today with the quickest run in history of 3.701 seconds and his personal best speed of 328.78 mph.
“With three races left, we’ve just got to keep pushing and doing what we’ve been doing because it’s still anybody’s championship out there.”
The race at Maple Grove Raceway will end a run of four events in four weeks. Following the eastern race and a three-week break, the series races Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the finale Nov. 13-16 at Pomona, Calif.
Antron Brown, Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” dragster
Last weekend at St. Louis: Qualified No. 6; won in championship round against Shawn Langdon
A year ago at Reading: Qualified No. 5; lost in championship round to Shawn Langdon
Career at Reading: Wins 0; Runner-ups 3 (2013, 2012, 2004-bikes); Poles 3 (2011, 2009, 2004-bikes)
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 4th 21 6 2 4 2 7 3 0 39-15
CAREER 307 47 40 62 84 71 37 3 515-257
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 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Points through St. Louis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
Driver (wins) points behind
1. TONY SCHUMACHER (4) 2,337 —-
2. Shawn Langdon (1) 2,280 -57
3. Steve Torrence 2,266 -71
4. ANTRON BROWN (6) 2,257 -80
5. Doug Kalitta (2) 2,250 -87
6. J.R. Todd (1) 2,228 -109
7. SPENCER MASSEY(2) 2,199 -138
8. Khalid alBalooshi (2) 2,188 -149
9. Richie Crampton (2) 2,125 -212
10. Brittany Force 2,085 -252