SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 2, 2015) – It started more than 29 years ago.
A young 10-year-old boy saw something that made a lasting impression.
When drag racing icon Don Garlits flipped his Top Fuel dragster and climbed out of the cockpit and waved to the fans at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park during the Summernationals, Antron Brown knew he wanted to one day to drive a Top Fuel dragster.
Fast forward nearly 30 years and Antron now has the same number of NHRA Top Fuel wins as his racing hero known as “Big Daddy.”
Brown and his Matco Tools/U.S. Army team, led by his master tuning duo of Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, used a dominate performance during the Sonoma NHRA Nationals as Antron collected his 51st career NHRA win and 35th in Top Fuel.
“That is just a true, true, true blessing,” Antron said of his category best fourth win of 2015. “When I was a kid watching this sport everybody knew who Big Daddy was. What got my interest in the sport was in 1986 in Englishtown when I saw him blow over. I said man, he’s crazy, but he got out. I watched him on TV he got back in the car and he ended up winning the championship that year.
“To tie one of the greatest racers in history is just unbelievable and it hasn’t sunken in. It won’t sink in until I actually stop racing because I won’t look at what we’ve done, I won’t do that until I walk away from this sport because I’m still young and I’m hungry.”
Antron now ranks sixth in NHRA career Top Fuel wins.
Antron’s dominant weekend started Friday afternoon when the Matco/Toyota team carded the second quickest lap of the first qualifying session at Sonoma Raceway. Later that evening, Antron unleashed the fourth quickest pass in Top Fuel history at 3.707 seconds to earn his fifth No. 1 qualifying award of the season and 42nd career pole.
“It was a great race weekend,” Antron said of his fourth Sonoma Raceway triumph.
“Anybody that can be a part of an organization such as DSR, you are just truly blessed to be a part of an organization like this. Even though I was on (Pro Stock Motorcycles) I was there at the start back when the shop was on 38th Street in Indy. We started from there and I’ve seen how this whole organization has grown over the years. Not to just a great organization but to be so great for the sport of NHRA. Every one of the teams works together. It’s pretty awesome.”
During qualifying at the track located just north of San Francisco, Antron’s Matco Tools rail was the quickest of two sessions and second quickest of the other two sessions.
On race day, Antron’s car, which flies the names of more than 1,500 Matco Tools distributors, posted three laps in the 3.7-second range, including a pass of 3.787 seconds at 320.74 mph to edge Top Fuel rookie Dave Connolly in the final round.
“I think it’s just the atmosphere of Sonoma,” Antron added. “When you come out here you feel at ease. It’s laid back, the scenery is beautiful. Our crew chiefs Brian and Mark, they love sea-level race tracks. The car makes great, great power and when you have a track like this here at Sonoma, everything just works so well here. When you’re running a six-disc package like our dragsters are right now the more power you make, it’s better to run. We love coming out here doing that. The vibe from the fans. There wasn’t an empty seat in the grandstands and that energy just boosts you up.”
Antron now trails DSR teammate and reigning series champion Tony Schumacher by 37 points in the NHRA Mello Yello standings.
Antron and the Matco team will complete the grueling three-race Western Swing next weekend at Pacific Raceways near Seattle. He won the Seattle race in 2009 en route to sweeping the Swing.
Winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Brown, 3.707 sec.-track record, 326.95 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 1
First round: BROWN (3.769 sec., 321.27 mph) def. Steve Chrisman (6.090, 102.81)
Quarterfinals: BROWN (3.805, 318.09) def. Richie Crampton (4.536, 165.99)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.797, 319.45) def. Tony Schumacher (3.816, 322.34)
Final: BROWN (3.787, 320.74) def. Dave Connolly (3.808, 319.14)
SATURDAY: 3.809 sec., 318.62 mph, (Session 3); 3.775, 315.78, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 3.753, 324.28, (Session 1); 3.707-track record, 326.95, (Session 2)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO TOP FUEL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Sonoma; 15 of 24 races; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND
1. TONY SCHUMACHER (3) 1,206 —–
2. ANTRON BROWN (4) 1,169 -37
3. Larry Dixon 975 -231
4. Doug Kalitta (2) 912 -294
5. Richie Crampton (3) 901 -305
6. SPENCER MASSEY (1) 820 -386
7. Brittany Force 794 -412
8. Steve Torrence (1) 783 -423
9. J.R. Todd 782 -424
10. Shawn Langdon (1) 780 -426