Off-season productive for Antron, Matco Tools team as Mello Yello season opens Friday with NHRA Winternationals at Pomona
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 3, 2015) – Antron Brown and his family enjoyed their favorite time of the year during the past two months away from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.
In addition to a wonderful holiday season at home, Antron spent a few days racing his radio-controlled boats in Louisiana before attending a friend’s wedding with his wife, Billie Jo, in Cancun.
“It was great, to go out and have five days with Billie Jo and share a special moment with our good friends Tommy DeLago and Rachel DeLago,” Antron said of the newlyweds. “It was a great time.
“Billie and I stayed a few extra days to take a breather from everything that’s been going on and enjoyed the weather and soaked it in. We had some ‘us’ time which made it an even more special trip. It energized me and got me ready to come back and be ready for the new season.”
The trip also served as an early anniversary celebration for the Browns, who were married 14 years ago this Tuesday.
“Now we’re ready to take charge,” the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion said before this weekend’s NHRA Circle K Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., that opens the 24-event season.
Antron returns with his team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald that won an NHRA-best six event titles last season with a sterling 41-18 record in championship eliminations. The Matco Tools/U.S. Army team won five of the season’s first 18 events but couldn’t catch Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher, who won his eighth world championship and 13th for DSR.
“It’s right there,” Antron said of getting Matco its second championship in four years. “All we have to do is reach up there and grab it. Trust me, we are going to be grabbing hard with everything we’ve got.”
The team showed its intention of starting the season fast when he ran a 3.720 last month during preseason testing at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla.
“The offseason went good. It felt good just to be down in Florida for good weather and just getting back at it … busting all the cobwebs out and getting back at it in game mode. All our Matco crew guys and myself got our racing legs back under us. We tried some new stuff and ran well.”
And nothing was better than the team’s 3.720 run.
“It definitely gives us confidence. The thing about it is you have to keep on going. We just want to be consistent. That’s what wins rounds, that’s what wins drag races and that’s what wins championships.
“Our guys are seasoned, poised and have communication energy where they can look into see each other’s eyes and actually know what’s going on without talking.
“I’m going into this season with a great group of guys. As a driver, I’m living the dream right now. I love our guys, and I love the way we all work together. We are very passionate about what we do and we drive hard.”
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
World championship: 2012
Last event (Nov. 16, 2014, at Pomona): Qualified No. 2; lost in semifinals to Morgan Lucas.
2014 Winternationals: Qualified No. 3; lost in first round to Clay Millican.
Career at Winternationals: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (2012, 2009); Poles 2 (2009, 2008)
Career at Pomona: Wins 3; Runner-ups 3; Poles 2
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss 2014 7th 24 6 2 5 2 9 3 0 41-18
CAREER 310 47 40 63 84 73 37 3 517-260 Best Time, Speed:3.701*/** sec. (10- 8-12, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (10-8-12, Reading) *Quickest ever/** NHRA record
2014 NHRA MELLO YELLO CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL STANDINGS
(DSR drivers in CAPS)
Driver (wins) points behind
- TONY SCHUMACHER (5) 2,594 —-
- JR Todd (1) 2,463 -131
- SPENCER MASSEY (3) 2,430 -164
- Shawn Langdon (1) 2,419 -175
- Doug Kalitta (2) 2,407 -187
- Steve Torrence 2,406 -188
- ANTRON BROWN (6) 2,405 -189
- Khalid alBalooshi (2) 2,326 -268
- Richie Crampton (2) 2,299 -295
- 10. Brittany Force 2,249 -345