BAYTOWN, Texas (April 26, 2015) – The NHRA Mello Yello Series event near Houston will always be special to Antron Brown.
The 2012 NHRA Top Fuel champion scored his first career Top Fuel win at the Baytown track seven years ago. Fast forward to 2015 and Brown has 48 career wins and 32 in the sport’s premier category.
On Sunday afternoon, the popular driver continued a unique trend at the NHRA SpringNationals, making the final round in even numbered years and not advancing past the quarterfinals in odd years at Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events. He won the SpringNationals in 2008 and a year ago, and was runner-up in ’10 and ’12. In 2009, ’11 and Sunday, he posted a quarterfinal finish and in 2013, the Matco Tools flagship driver was ousted in round one.
Brown qualified his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster in the No. 10 position on Saturday afternoon with a lap of 3.782 seconds on Friday evening under the lights and won his first round match against rookie and No. 7 qualifier Dave Connolly before bowing out against Don Schumacher Racing teammate and eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher in the second round of eliminations. Brown had the jump out of the starting gate and posted a lap at 3.808, but the Army car, which qualified second, clocked a pass at 3.774 to score the win by about a quarter of a car’s length.
“The track just ate us up that round against Tony (Schumacher),” Brown said. “It was a close race. We put on a great show for the fans here at Houston. We went down the track twice today and the car did what we wanted it too. That’s progress and that’s important for this Matco Tools team.
“We ran identical to Tony to the 330-foot mark but they ran stronger than us from there to half-track at about 500 feet. The track was very, very good and we may have just underestimated it a little bit. We just eased it up a little too much.”
The Matco team will leave the sixth race of the 2014 season ranked third in the Mello Yello standings after arriving there in first place. The DSR teams will head to home base in Brownsburg, Ind. on Monday and enjoy a two-week break before the series resumes May 15-17 at Commerce, Ga., for the seventh of 24 races in the Mello Yello series. Antron is a five-time winner at Atlanta Dragway, including three times in Top Fuel.
“We’re at about 70 percent of where we need to be heading into the Countdown (to the Championship) in September. That’s good with our new clutch program. When we go to Atlanta we have a better game plan to start the first qualifying session and get down the track on the first lap of the weekend so we can continue to build and get better through eliminations. That’s our goal.”
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 10
First round: BROWN (3.756 sec., 321.73 mph) def. Dave Connolly (3.807, 322.73);
Quarterfinals: Tony Schumacher (3.774, 326.48) def. BROWN (3.808, 318.99)
SATURDAY: 6.952 sec., 93.69 mph, (Session 3); 4.569, 170.58, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 4.536, 175.57, (Session 1); 3.782, 314.02, (Session 2)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Houston; six of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) pts behind
1. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 474 —
2. SPENCER MASSEY (1) 441 -33
3. ANTRON BROWN (1) 437 -37
4. Shawn Langdon (1) 406 -68
5. Doug Kalitta (1) 390 -84
6. Richie Crampton (1) 374 -100
7. Steve Torrence 325 -149
8. Larry Dixon 318 -156
9. Clay Millican 312 -162
10. JR Todd 299 -175