BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 18, 2015) – Antron Brown usually lets things roll right off his strong back, but the disappointment he felt along with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald stung deeper when their Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster had a premature end to the last Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race.
But the drive that earned the Don Schumacher Racing team the 2012 world championship and a category-best four Mello Yello trophies this season is ready to be shifted into high gear this weekend in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in northern Minnesota that is the penultimate event in the NHRA regular season.
After Brainerd, the last event of the 16-race Mello Yello season will be the prestigious U.S. Nationals over Labor Day Weekend near Indianapolis left before the fields of top-10 are determined to compete for NHRA world championships in the six-race Countdown to the Championship.
And while the Matco team has clinched a berth in the Countdown, it isn’t giving up on overtaking teammate Tony Schumacher for the regular season points lead for the No. 1 seed that earns a 30-point lead to start the playoffs.
“We have to go to Brainerd and go to work,” said Antron, who trails Schumacher and the U.S. Army team by 87 points for the Top Fuel lead.
“We’ve clinched a Countdown spot. We have to push and put pressure on our teammate Tony for that No. 1 spot. We still have two races left and Indy is worth extra points. We have to Seattle behind us and qualify better at Brainerd and Indy and do some work on race day.”
The Matco team won its fourth race of the year at Sonoma, Calif., before losing in the first round the following week near Seattle to Shawn Langdon who advanced to the championship round. Antron is emphasizing his team’s need to improve qualifying after being seeded eighth that put them against Langdon.
“The competition is so stiff out here in the NHRA you can’t mess up. It’s hard to win rounds out here,” said Antron, who has won five titles at Brainerd but only one in Top Fuel. “We have to make better luck for ourselves and that starts with qualifying better.”
Antron has qualified No. 1 five times this year and needs a similar effort when racing begins Friday. A year ago, he won the Brainerd pole before losing in the semifinals to Morgan Lucas, who went on to win the trophy.
DSR OPEN HOUSE FOR RILEY KIDS
The 10th annual DSR Open House to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Camp Riley will take place Sept. 4 (Friday) at Don Schumacher Racing near Indianapolis.
Over the past 10 years, DSR with its friends, fans and family have raised over $300,000 for Riley Kids.
All seven DSR drivers and owner Don Schumacher will attend to sign autographs for an hour of the free, festive event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Open House features a giant car and bike show, “cackle fest,” silent auction, various displays and contests.
DSR is located at 1681 E. Northfield Drive in Brownsburg, Ind., a couple miles from Lucas Oil Raceway Park where the four-day NHRA U.S. Nationals opens a few hours after the DSR Open House concludes.
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2015 2nd 16 4 2 3 2 5 5 0 29-12
CAREER 326 51 42 66 85 78 42 3 546-272
Best Time, Speed: 3.701 sec.-NHRA record (2012, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (2012, Reading)
Last event: Seattle (Aug. 7-9, 2015): Qualified No. 8; lost in first round to Shawn Langdon
A year ago at Brainerd: Qualified No. 1; lost in semifinals to Morgan Lucas
Career at Brainerd: Wins 5 (2000-01, 2003, 2006, 2011); Runner-ups 1 (2012); Poles 3 (2001, 2004, 2014)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO TOP FUEL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official 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