Matco Tools team with Brown rebound after rare two-race stumble to advance to Norwalk final, alone in first heading to Chicago
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 7, 2015) – Antron Brown has proven he can win in the NHRA Route 66 Nationals near Chicago in Joliet, Ill., whether he’s on two wheels or four wheels, and he’s done it often.
The current points leader in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series won at Route 66 in Top Fuel last year and in 2012, and in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2000 and 2001.
“I love coming to Chicago and not just because we’ve been blessed to win there, but it’s so close to where we live (outside of Indianapolis) that friends and family are able to come by. This will be two straight weekends where we raced close to home. Best thing is I didn’t have to go to any airports.”
This past Sunday at Norwalk, Ohio, Antron and the Matco team advanced to their fifth championship round of the season before losing a close race to Doug Kalitta. Through the first 12 events this year, he and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald have won three times.
Antron and Funny Car teammate and points leader Matt Hagan swept the nitro titles a year ago at Route 66, and the double-up for DSR has happened four times through 12 events this year for a total of 48 times since 2003.
“We’d love to be part of something like that again,” said Antron, who has won 50 times in his career including 34 in Top Fuel since joining the class in 2008. “There’s nothing better than to be one of the drivers sharing the same Chicago winner’s circle with Don in his hometown.”
Before racing at Norwalk, the Matco team had stumbled the past two races by losing in first rounds after winning on June 7 for the first time at Antron’s home track in Englishtown, N.J. Antron qualified third at Norwalk and advanced to a championship round for the fifth time in 12 races this year and the 92nd time in his career.
“All of our Matco guys did such a great job last weekend with the fast turnarounds for live TV (on ESPN),” Antron said.
Mello Yello teams will face similar challenges this Sunday with more live TV scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
“We went out there and were running good and it just dropped a (cylinder),” he said. “The car had a great 60-foot time and it didn’t make it to 330 feet before it dropped that cylinder. Lord knows that’s how it goes sometimes.”
The Norwalk weekend began with the Matco team holding a two-point lead over DSR teammate Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army unit, which were able to pull into a tie after a better qualifying performance. Tony lost in the semifinals to Antron that allowed Antron pull ahead by 20 points heading to Route 66.
“We’ll keep on plugging and go to Chicago and build on the leaps and bounds we made at Norwalk,” Antron said. “The car was responding the way Brian and Mark wanted it to, which is great. We’ll work on this and be better.
“We’re like a family,” Brown said. “When we have meetings there are times when we know what each other are thinking before we even say a word. That’s how in tune we are with each other and where we want to go.”
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Last event Norwalk, Ohio, July 2-5: Qualified No. 3; lost in championship round to Doug Kalitta
A year ago at Chicago: Qualified No. 3; defeated Brittany Force in championship round
Career at Chicago: Wins 4 (2014, 2012, 2001*, 2000*); Runner-ups 2 (2009, 2002*); Poles 1 (2009) *Pro Stock Motorcycle
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2015 1st 12 3 2 2 2 3 3 0 23-9
CAREER 322 50 42 65 85 76 40 3 540-269
Best Time, Speed: 3.701 sec.-NHRA record (2012, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (2012, Reading)
NHRA MELLO YELLO TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official through Norwalk, 12th of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS) PTS BEHIND
1. ANTRON BROWN (3) 925 —-
2. TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 905 -20
3. Doug Kalitta (2) 791 -134
4. Richie Crampton (3) 764 -161
5. Larry Dixon 754 -171
6. SPENCER MASSEY (1) 730 -187
7. Shawn Langdon (1) 674 -251
8. Brittany Force 641 -284
9. JR Todd 597 -328
10. Clay Millican 583 -342