Kent, Wash. (Aug. 9, 2015) – The Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel team with driver Antron Brown has clinched a spot in the 10-car NHRA Countdown to the Championship and the team isn’t giving up on regaining the lead in Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings over the next two events and before the six-race playoff begins in September.
Antron made a strong run at catching Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher, the leader, a week ago when the Matco team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald won the pole and their fourth event title of the year at Sonoma, Calif.
But Antron suffered a setback Sunday in the Northwest NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle when the team lost in the opening round and Schumacher advanced to the semifinal round to extend his lead to 87 points.
The visit to the Northwest was the third and final race of the annual Western Swing that Antron swept in 2009.
“It wasn’t a bad swing for the Matco team,” said Antron, who qualified eighth and was paired against a resurging and former world champion Shawn Langdon. It was a repeat of the first Swing race at Denver when Antron qualified eighth and lost in the opening round.
“The highlight obviously was winning at Sonoma last weekend,” Antron said. “But Denver beat us up, and we were looking to do good at Seattle after going to the final round there last year. We wanted to win. The competition is so stiff out here in the NHRA you can’t mess up. It’s hard to win rounds. We have to make better luck for ourselves and that starts with qualifying better.
“The track heated up Sunday and our Matco dragster got loose like a lot of other teams. You make so much power at Seattle because of all the trees and it’s at sea level. We went out and spun the tires. I tried to catch it and did, but Langdon was able to get a little farther down the track before his car pulled the tires loose. We just couldn’t nip him at the end.”
The Mello Yello teams get next weekend off and return on tour the following week at Brainerd, Minn., which will be the 15th of 16 events of the Mello Yello regular season. The Countdown begins two weeks after the U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis.
“We’ll go to Brainerd and get to work. We’ve clinched a Countdown spot. We have to push and put pressure on our teammate Tony for that No. 1 spot. We have two races left and Indy is worth extra points so we can catch him.”
Winner: J.R. Todd (Kalitta Motorsports)
No. 1 qualifier: Richie Crampton (Morgan Lucas Racing) 3.727 sec.-track record, 323.50 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 8
First round: Shawn Langdon (4.419 sec., 199.64 mph) def. BROWN (4.714, 225.11)
SATURDAY: 3.803 sec., 316.15 mph, (Session 3); 3.737, 288.33, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 4.190, 207.91, (Session 1); 3.772, 314.39, (Session 2)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO TOP FUEL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Seattle; 16 of 24 races; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND
1. TONY SCHUMACHER (3) 1,289 —-
2. ANTRON BROWN (4) 1,202 -87
3. Larry Dixon 1,034 -255
4. Richie Crampton (3) 969 -320
5. Doug Kalitta (2) 944 -345
6. JR Todd (1) 896 -393
7. Shawn Langdon (1) 872 -417
8. SPENCER MASSEY (1) 855 -434
9. Brittany Force 851 -438
10. Steve Torrence (1) 835 -454