NORWALK, Ohio (July 4, 2015) – There is no driver hungrier to win NHRA races than 2012 NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown. The defending winner of the NHRA event at Norwalk, Ohio, feasted on the competition in Northern Ohio last July en route to one of the more important of his 50 NHRA Mello Yello Series victories.
Brown’s longtime marketing partner, Matco Tools, is headquartered about an hour east of Norwalk in Stow near Akron. Not only was the win Brown’s first at the Norwalk track, but he and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team were able to personally hand the Wally trophy to Matco president Tim Gilmore, who was able to celebrate with the team and share the trophy with the employees at Stow a day later.
Fast forward a year and the Don Schumacher Racing Top Fuel team that has collected the most NHRA Top Fuel wins since 2009 is eager to repeat that performance after Brown qualified the Matco-backed rail third Saturday night in the ninth annual NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.
“We’re very hunger out here,” Brown said of the team’s top half qualifying effort. “Just look in the eyes of my guys and see the determination on the faces of these Matco boys. This being the home track for Matco and my crew chiefs Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald), and we have a lot of family and friends, this is an important race of ours, always.
“It’s also my son Anson’s 11th birthday and we want to win for him too. We’re going to give it all we got on Sunday and see where the chips fall.”
The Matco team made four full pulls in qualifying at the Norwalk track, including three passes in the 3.7-second range highlighted by Saturday’s final attempt under the lights with a blistering run of 3.739 seconds at 321.58 mph.
“We were trying to go for No. 1 and we’ll take it at No. 3,” Brown added after clocking his third quickest pass of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello season. “We’ve just been plugging away and getting better and better. That was our game plan entering the weekend here at Norwalk.
“We’re in a great spot for race day. We ended up in the top three and we’ll get a good choice to go in the first round. We’ll get after with our Matco Tools car and try to be poised like we always do on race day and attack.”
Brown and U.S. Army Racing teammate Tony Schumacher enter Sunday’s final eliminations tied for the points lead. Championship eliminations are scheduled to being at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday with a live telecast from 1 to 4 p.m. on ESPN.
The following are Brown’s qualifying results from Norwalk:
No. 1 qualifier:Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.731 sec.-track record, 327.82 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 3
First round: BROWN vs. Terry McMillen
SATURDAY: 3.773 sec., 318.39 mph, (Session 3); 3.739, 321.58, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 3.841 sec., 319.22 mph, (Session 1); 3.787, 319.75 (Session 2)