CONCORD, N.C. (March 29, 2015) – The Matco Tools team pushed the limits during Sunday’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte and it paid off with the event title that also moved into the championship points lead.
But it wasn’t an easy road.
In the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations Antron, who qualified No. 8, was in a quad with some of the toughest competitors on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. Brown raced No. 1 qualifier J.R. Todd, NHRA champion Shawn Langdon and Top Fuel rookie and standout Pro Stock racer Dave Connolly.
The Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald won the first heat with a 3.771-second lap at 313 mph and advanced to the second round with Connolly.
“That first quad was like an all-star event and then you go into the next round and it’s stacked up again,” said Antron.
The second quad turned into a pedal-fest when teams were pushing the envelope on an 80-degree racetrack and air temperatures in the 50s.
“All of us knew what we had to run and we pushed the racetrack too hard because none of us made it 60-feet. We were trying to run a 3.72 like the Sarge (Tony Schumacher) does. We snuck around that round and came back for the final. Brian and Mark made the right call and we ran low ET of that round and we did what we needed to do to win that race.”
Antron and the Matco Tools team posted their best elapsed time of the weekend in the final round with a 3.749-second pass at 319 mph to earn their first win of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello season. It was Antron’s 48th career win, 32nd in the Top Fuel category and he has won at least one event title in each year of his Top Fuel competition since he switched from the Pro Stock Motorcycle class in 2008. The Matco Tools team also earned the Four-Wide title last year.
“It has been an incredible run for us at this race,” Antron said. “The reason we love coming here is because the fans get really, really excited about it and plus this is the only time we come out and have a battle royal with nitro cars. It’s insane, there’s a lot going on.
“You have to run a four-lane racetrack and we had two runs to try and get used to four lanes,” Antron said referring to Friday’s washout that cancelled two qualifying sessions. “The good part is it really helps out with our multiple teams at DSR, our other dragsters had different lanes than we had. We can lean on our Funny Car teams too.”
The Don Schumacher Racing organization embodies the “One Team” slogan commonly used throughout the shop in Brownsburg, Ind.
“Don has put all the right people in all the right places. We are able to lean on each other. Our deal is we have an open door policy. We have grown as a tight knit unit and we’ve been able to grow together. We work hard together, we learn together.
“To sneak out with it this year, it was definitely a long road. We’ve been fighting some new combinations, some gremlins in our Matco Tools car. It felt really good to go out there and run good in that last run and get the win for all of 1,600-plus Matco distributors.”
DSR enjoyed its third consecutive double-up of 2015 on Sunday with Jack Beckman taking the Funny Car title, marking the 47th time DSR has collected more than one trophy at an event.
Event Winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1: J.R. Todd (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.713 seconds (track record), 309.63 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S Army
QUALIFIED: No. 8
First Round: BROWN (3.771 sec., 313.58 mph) and Dave Connolly (3.944, 301.07) advanced over J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon;
Second Round: BROWN (5.817, 185.00) and Steve Torrence (6.019, 200.95) advanced over Dave Connolly and Doug Kalitta;
Final Round: Winner-BROWN (3.749, 319.90), runner-up-Steve Torrence (3.847, 317.57), third-Richie Cramton (4.030, 277.15); fourth-Clay Millican (5.526, 128.02).
SATURDAY: 10.277 sec., 68.74 mph, (Session 3); 3.792, 318.62, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: Sessions 1 and 2, rained out
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Charlotte 1, 4 of 24 races; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND
1. ANTRON BROWN (1) 354 —
2. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 328 -26
3. Shawn Langdon (1) 312 -42
4. SPENCER MASSEY (1) 286 -68
5. Doug Kalitta 238 -116
6. Richie Crampton 232 -122
7. Steve Torrence 213 -141
8. Brittany Force 192 -162
9. Clay Millican 189 -165
10. J.R. Todd 180 -174