Brown, Matco Tools team post solid effort at Route 66, looking to peak for Countdown to the Championship on Western Swing
JOLIET, Ill. (July 12, 2015) – Antron Brown and his Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel team know that a small setback can sometimes lead to a greater result and that was the team’s result on Sunday afternoon at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.
Brown and championship crew led by Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald qualified the Matco Tools car on the pole for the fourth time in 13 races this season, a category best, with a track record run of 3.729 seconds on Friday evening. On race day, the Matco team defeated Luigi Novelli, whose car broke on the starting line, and Doug Kalitta, in a rematch of last weekend’s final in Northern Ohio, before an aggressive semifinal tune-up stopped their day against three-time series champion and nemesis Larry Dixon.
“We just got a little too aggressive in the middle of the track for that semifinal race against Larry (Dixon),” Brown said after racing in the semifinals for the eighth time this season. “The track was actually 2 degrees cooler than round two and we just tried to make the same run as we did the round before and it was just too much. The car ran quicker to the 330 than the run before. It was trying to run an 80 flat or a (3).79. With that being said the track was getting too slippery for that tune-up. We’ll learn from it and we’ll grow.
“We’re happy with the progress of the team and we’re moving forward right now and that’s our main focus. We’re going on the Western Swing with three grueling races in July and August and Lord knows we’re going to need a lot of strength to get our arsenal together and be prepared for those races starting at Denver. These next three races will really shape up how we all go into the Countdown (to the Championship). We learned a lot this weekend and we need to keep that going into the Countdown.”
Brown, who enters the Western Swing trailing DSR teammate Tony Schumacher by 20 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel standings, has been on his “A” game as a driver. At the last two events, he has left the starting line first on all seven of his opponents. He has a .633 leave-first percentage rate his year.
“I just try to get in the groove and let it happen,” Brown said of his starting line tactics. “I’ve been working hard at home and hopefully the work pays off. I want to get better, so when the Countdown comes we’re at our best.”
The Matco bunch will return to the DSR shop, about three hours from Joliet, in Brownsburg, Ind. for one off weekend before they hit the road for nearly a month straight on July 22 for the July 24-26 Mile-High Nationals near Denver. Brown has two wins in six final rounds at Bandimere Speedway.
Event winner: Tony Schumacher (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.729 sec.-track record, 323.58 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 1
First round: BROWN (3.788 sec., 319.98 mph) def. Luigi Novelli, broke
Quarterfinals: BROWN (3.817, 319.29) def. Doug Kalitta (4.000, 297.09)
Semifinals: Larry Dixon (3.880, 322.34) def. BROWN (4.121, 226.43)
SATURDAY: 3.755 sec., 316.01 mph, (Session 3); (Session 4, canceled)
FRIDAY: 3.775 sec., 317.94 mph, (Session 1), 3.729 sec.-track record, 323.58 mph, (Session 2)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official through Chicago; 13 of 14 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
Driver (wins) Points Behind
1. TONY SCHUMACHER (3) 1,028 —–
2. ANTRON BROWN (3) 1,008 -20
3. Larry Dixon 848 -180
4. Doug Kalitta (2) 844 -184
5. Richie Crampton (3) 796 -232
6. SPENCER MASSEY (1) 752 -276
7. Shawn Langdon (1) 696 -332
8. Brittany Force 681 -347
9. J.R. Todd 651 -377
10. Steve Torrence 609 -419