GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2015) – There’s nothing like winning, but 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion and his Matco Tools/U.S. Army team have the perfect view of a bigger picture.
Antron and the Don Schumacher Racing team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald advanced the semifinals of the 46th annual NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., on Sunday but were pleased despite falling two-round wins short of their goal for every NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
But they know after only three of 24 events on the circuit, a long road lies ahead.
“Anytime you go to the semifinals, it’s not a bad weekend at all,” he said. “It was the typical Gainesville with a very tricky track. We’ve been at two killer tracks (Pomona and Phoenix) because of higher altitude and cooler air. They were both phenomenal. The thing is, Gainesville is how summer is going to be and we’re building on our program and making it better and learning. This is the first time we’ve faced hot conditions with our clutch program.”
Antron, who ranks fourth in points and is only 40 outside of first, qualified sixth and received a bye in the opening round. Larry Dixon, who was qualified 11th and slated to face the Matco Tools team, was uninjured in a ferocious crash that split his car in two and sent it sailing into the air. Dixon’s Bob Vandergriff Racing team did not have a back-up car that gave Matco team the free ride.
After defeating J.R. Todd of Kalitta Racing in the quarterfinals, Antron faced eventual event winner and DSR teammate Spencer Massey in the semifinals.
The Mello Yello series resumes in two weeks with the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte for the fourth of 24 races.
“We’re going to go into the Four Wide (Nationals) at Charlotte and we’re excited to get there with how well we did last year,” Antron said of winning the title there a year ago.
“We know (track owners) Bruton and Marcus Smith have redone all four lanes and that track will be in A-1 shape. We’re excited to get there and try to repeat, but it still was a good weekend here at Gainesville.”
Event winner: Spencer Massey (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Shawn Langdon (Alan Johnson Racing) 3.765 sec., 325.45 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S Army
QUALIFIED: No. 6
First Round: BROWN (8.690 sec., 76.90 mph) def. Larry Dixon (Dixon did not compete due his race car being destroyed in qualifying crash in which Dixon was uninjured); Quarterfinals: BROWN (3.850, 314.90) def. J.R. Todd (4.008, 270.48); SEMIFINALS: Spencer Massey (3.858, 308.07) def. BROWN (5.182, 144.98)
SATURDAY: 4.920 sec., 151.44 mph, (Session 3); 3.811, 314.09, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 6.074 sec., 105.84 mph, (Session 1); 3.854, 310.63, (Session 2)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND
1. Shawn Langdon (1) 281 —
2. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 268 -13
3. SPENCER MASSEY (1) 250 -31
4. ANTRON BROWN 241 -40
5. Doug Kalitta 184 -97
6. Richie Crampton 159 -112
7. Larry Dixon 140 -141
7. Brittany Force 140 -141
9. J.R. Todd 139 -143
10. Steve Torrence 121 -160