BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 17, 2015) – Many from east of the Mississippi travel to Phoenix this month to get away from freezing temperatures and snow.

Antron Brown doesn’t mind a weekend in the 70s under sunny skies, but he mainly heads west to win, and he’s done that frequently driving his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing.

The 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion who led his category last year with six event titles, will start Friday defending the title he won a year ago at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix. He has won there three times in the past six years, also taking the NHRA Wally trophy home in 2009 and 2012. He was runner-up in 2011.

“Very, very, very excited to go back to Phoenix,” said Antron, who owns 47 NHRA Wally trophies including 31 in Top Fuel. “It’s always held a special place in my heart. We’d like to make it a fourth time to the winner’s circle. First, we want to qualify with a good run and build on that.”

That’s not what happened Feb. 6-8 in the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., to open the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

But Antron and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team rallied from a disappointing No. 11 qualifying spot to get to the championship round where they lost to Shawn Langdon, whose time of 3.700 seconds in qualifying took away Antron’s previous quickest ever run at 3.701 that his Matco team made in 2012. But Antron remains the NHRA elapsed time record holder because Langdon wasn’t able to back up his run with a time within 1 percent of his 3.700 during the event.

It’s already been a special week for Antron, who has been in Orlando participating in the annual Matco Tools Expo’s National Business Conference where he unveiled the new design of his Don Schumacher Racing dragster that features the names of 1,450 Matco distributors.

“The new paint scheme will make some eyes bounce,” said Antron, who is driving a Matco-backed dragster for the sixth year. “It’s real cool to have all distributors’ names on it. Now, it’s not just the Matco car it will be the Matco distributors car going down the track with me. I’ve got all the support around that cockpit I need to go out there and win another championship.”

Just attending the Matco Expo provides a memorable time for Antron.

“I’ve just been having fun and catching up with our Matco family and their families. We’ve just been having fun and catching up. It’s always great to hear how Matco’s business has grown and they’re energized for our 2015 race season. You come here and it gives you such an energy boost.

“We’ll be heading to Phoenix with a breath of fresh air and head full of steam with all the support from our Matco family. What’s really cool about coming to Expo and the convention is feeling all the support and getting ready to get after it to try and win.”

ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster
Last event (Feb. 6-8, Pomona, Calif.): Qualified No. 11; lost in championship round to Shawn Langdon
A year ago at Phoenix: Qualified No. 5; won in championship round over Brittany Force
Career at Phoenix: Wins 3 (2009, 2012, 2014); Runner-ups 1 (2011); Poles 0

         Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ    W/L
2015 2nd      1         0       1        0     0       0         0        0      3-1
CAREER     311     47      41     63    84     73       37      3    520-261
(31 TF/16 PSB)
Best Time, Speed: 3.701 sec.-NHRA record (2012, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (2012, Reading)

(DSR drivers in CAPS; after 1 of 24 events)
Driver (wins)                    points   behind
1. Shawn Langdon (1)     124         —
2. ANTRON BROWN         92        -32
3. SPENCER MASSEY     78        -46
4. Larry Dixon                     73        -51
5. Richie Crampton             59        -65
6. Doug Kalitta                    56        -68
7. Steve Torrence               54        -70
8. Leah Pritchett                 52        -72
9. TONY SCHUMACHER   36        -88
10. Brittany Force               33        -91