Early Toyota Nationals exit at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ends 2014 championship hopes for Brown, Matco Tools team
LAS VEGAS (Nov. 2, 2014) – The NHRA Toyota Nationals didn’t turn out the way it did a year ago for Antron Brown and the Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” Top Fuel dragster.
Last year, Antron left with the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event title but on Sunday his first-round loss ended his chance to defend of winning his second Top Fuel world championship in three years when he was sidelined by Leah Pritchett at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The early exit mathematically eliminated him from championship contention heading to the season finale in two weeks at Pomona, Calif.
“Drag racing is just like basketball, it’s all about a long series of runs,” he said after needing his fourth and last chance to qualify on Saturday evening and was seeded 11th in the 16-car eliminations field. “We got ourselves back together in qualifying and got back in the show at the end.
“We knew we had a good shot in the first round but we just faced a tough opponent in Leah Pritchett. We went after them. The car didn’t necessarily do what we wanted it to do.”
Pritchett’s run of 3.793 seconds at 320.89 mph slipped past Antron’s 3.800 (319.90) to produce a winning margin of .0156 of a second. His time was good enough to have won three of the eight first-round races.
“We could’ve raced numerous other people and won in that first round,” he said. “But that’s how it rolls. We’re just going to lick our wounds and stay here and test tomorrow to get our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota car back in the shape we’re used to seeing it in.”
Antron and the Matco Tools team has won a series-best six event titles this year and another to close out the 2014 season would be the most of his career.
“We just want to end this season right, go into Pomona and throw our best shot out there, be competitive and have a chance to win. If we can end the season with a win, it’ll definitely get our spirits up for the offseason and we’ll come back strong next year.”
Event winner: Spencer Massey (DSR)
No. 1 qualifier: J.R. Todd (Kalitta Motorsports), 3.732 sec. (track record), 327.33 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying position: No. 11
First round: Leah Pritchett (3.793 sec., 320.89 mph) def. BROWN (3.800, 319.90)
FRIDAY: 6.571 sec., 99.35 mph, (Session 1); 3.976, 248.98 (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 5.902, 110.72, (Session 3); 3.790, 320.89 (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial points through Las Vegas 2; DSR drivers in CAPS)
Driver (wins) points behind
1. Tony Schumacher (5) 2,501 —-
2. Spencer Massey (3) 2,392 -109
3. JR Todd (1) 2,389 -112
4. Shawn Langdon (1) 2,367 -134
5. Doug Kalitta (2) 2,366 -135
6. Steve Torrence 2,355 -146
7. Antron Brown (6) 2,324 -177
8. Khalid alBalooshi (2) 2,292 -209
9. Brittany Force 2,239 -262
10. Richie Crampton (2) 2,238 -263