BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 21, 2015) – Being a spectator at a major sports event with a loved one competing put Antron Brown in a different position last weekend.
The role reversal occurred in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where his daughter, Arianna, 13, was competing in the Starpower International dance competition and her father was the one awaiting the outcome instead of her waiting to see if the win light illuminated over his lane to indicate his Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster won an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race.
The cool, calm Antron insists that he never gets nervous whether Arianna is on stage or racing with her brothers in NHRA Jr. Dragster competition. And he certainly is never nervous when he’s behind the wheel of the 320-mph Matco dragster.
“I don’t get nervous but I get very excited,” said the winner of three events this year with the Matco team lead by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald that is ranked second in points. They trail Don Schumacher Racing teammate and points leader Tony Schumacher by 20 heading to the Mopar Mile-High Nationals this week at Bandimere Raceway near Denver.
And he was very excited at Myrtle Beach when Arianna placed first in Jazz solo and first in team with the Sister Act Dance Academy. She also was selected seventh best dancer in the entire competition.
“You just want to see your children succeed,” he said. “It was exciting to see her nail her routines after all the practicing she did. You just want them to do well with their performance.”
Now the family spotlights switches back to Antron as he prepares for the 14th of 24 events in the Mello Yello season, and perhaps its most challenging.
The Mile-High Nationals starts the three-race Western Swing with stops over the next two weekends in Sonoma, Calif., and near Seattle.
“It’s tough for everybody. It’s like doing a marathon,” he said of the Swing. “It’s not just the back-to-back-to-back races, we do that a few times during the season. Our teams are out there on the road the whole time. The guys have to work on the car, pack it up and drive another thousand miles to the next race. And they won’t get home or back to the shop for more than three weeks.
“It’s not just a marathon for the drivers, but it is for the whole team.
“And then there’s the mile-high altitude in Denver that takes the guys’ breath away. It’s the week in the thin air and all the travel that knocks you down.”
ANTRON BY THE NUMBERS
Last event: Joliet, Ill (July 12, 2015): Qualified No. 1; lost in semifinals to Larry Dixon
A year ago at Denver: Qualified No. 6; lost in quarterfinals to Larry Dixon
Career at Denver: Wins 2 (2009, 2012); Runner-ups 4 (1999*, 2001*, 2005*, 2008); Poles 3 (2001*, 2009, 2010)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2015 2nd 13 3 2 3 2 3 4 0 25-10
CAREER 323 50 42 66 85 76 41 3 542-270
Best Time, Speed: 3.701 sec.-NHRA record (2012, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (2012, Reading)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO TOP FUEL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official after Chicago; 13 of 24 races; 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