Antron, DSR Top Fuel drivers dominant at zMAX Dragway, new racing surface for Four-Wide Nationals throws a curve
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 24, 2015) – Antron Brown and the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team along with Don Schumacher Racing teammates have enjoyed eight successful outings at zMax Dragway near Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Antron returns to this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals as the defending Top Fuel champion in the world’s only four-lane drag race, and he won the Top Fuel trophy in the fall’s traditional two-lane race in 2011.
The three other drivers with two Top Fuel NHRA Wally trophies all did so with Don Schumacher Racing: Spencer Massey (Four-Wide in 2012 and 2013), Tony Schumacher (2008 and 2014 in the fall event) and former DSR driver Cory McClenathan (2009 and 2010 in the fall).
But the vast information DSR has collected from those successful NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races at the track can be tossed into the dumpster.
Speedway Motorsports Inc., the publicly-held corporation led by Bruton Smith, owns the zMAX drag racing facility along with others in Las Vegas, Bristol, Tenn., and Sonoma, Calif., which hosts six of 24 Mello Yello events.
The four lanes were rebuilt starting in January with a combination of concrete and asphalt with a continual 1 percent grade from the water box behind the starting line to past the quarter-mile finish line. The track originally was flat to the starting line where the grade began to decline.
Several teams including Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Mod tested at zMAX a few days after the Mello Yello event two weeks ago at Gainesville, Fla., and drivers told CompetitionPlus.com they were very pleased with the changes. No DSR teams participated in the test.
“I hear the track is looking good right now,” said Antron, who was runner-up at this year’s opener and ranks fourth in points. “They’ve made it level from before the starting to all the way down track. They replaced concrete with asphalt after about 700 feet to the finish line so the rubber won’t peel up anymore. Those are vast improvements.
“Bruton Smith’s tracks always have been the best. It’s pretty special when a track redoes the whole racetrack. They’ll have been running all four lanes before we get there so the track will be fast for us so we can go out there for some record runs.”
David Fletcher, DSR’s traction specialist and longtime NHRA crew member, would prefer to arrive with baseline information.
“Throw out our notes,” he said. “We can only go there and see what we have to work with. There won’t be a lot of rubber built up. They can drag rubber onto the concrete but really can’t do much with that on the asphalt, and that’s a third of the track for us.
“We’ll adjust and make it work.”
Antron anticipates the unique event and once-a-year excitement it produces.
“I compare the Four-Wide to wrestling,” the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion said. “We usually only race against one car but the Four-Wide is like a battle royal where you’re wrestling everybody. In the final round you’re racing the best of the best and there’s three you have to beat.
“Last year’s final round showed how competitive it was when all four of us ran within one-thousandth of a second of each other and a couple of us ran the same ET. It’s a grueling race but it’s one we always look forward to going to because it is unique.
“You can’t get anything more action packed than having four nitro cars on the starting line at the same time.”
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Last event (March 13-15, Gainesville, Fla.): Qualified No. 6; lost in semifinals to Spencer Massey
A year ago at Four-Wide: Qualified No. 4; won in championship round against Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd, Doug Kalitta
Last fall at zMAX: Qualified No. 9; lost in first round to Spencer Massey
Career at Four-Wide: Wins 1 (2011); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
Career at zMAX: Wins 2; Runner-ups 1 2008; Poles 0
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2015 4th 3 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 7-3
CAREER 313 47 41 65 84 73 37 3 524-263
Best Time, Speed: 3.701 sec.-NHRA record (2012, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (2012, Reading)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Through Gainesville, Fla., 3 of 24 races; 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 -122
7. Brittany Force 140 -141
7. Larry Dixon 140 -141
9. J.R. Todd 139 -142
10. Steve Torrence 121 -160