Antron puts emphasis on quick start with Matco dragster in this weekend’s opener for six-race Countdown playoff
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 16, 2015) – Antron Brown and the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team doesn’t want to experience déjà vu all over again.
A year ago, Don Schumacher Racing’s Matco/U.S. Army team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with team manager Brad Mason won five of the 18 event titles in the regular season and started the NHRA Countdown to the Championship seeded second trailing the leader by just 30 points.
But a first-round loss by Antron at the Countdown opener near Charlotte in the Carolina NHRA Nationals dropped him to sixth and another opening-round loss the following week at Dallas all but ended the team’s hope of winning a second world championship in three years. The Matco team only won once in the six-race playoff.
“We learned the hard way last year that you have to get off to a good start in the Countdown,” said Antron, who has won four Mello Yello Drag Racing Series titles this year.
“This Matco team with Brian and Mark have been working hard all year for this Countdown. When it starts it’s not what we did in the first 18 races but what we do in the last six. That’s what wins championships.”
When Antron and the Matco team won the 2012 Mello Yello Series Top Fuel championship they started with the No. 4 seed, and also lost in the first round but rallied to win the next two events and followed that by being a runner-up at Reading, Pa.
“We gained a lot of momentum at these last three races. We’re running good,” Antron said of closing out this year’s regular season that includes an NHRA record elapsed time of 3.680 seconds four weeks ago at Brainerd, Minn., which was the first time a driver cracked the 3.70-second barrier.
“We have a really good combination right now with the Matco Tools team. We’re going in as the No. 2 seed. It would have been nice if we went in as the No. 1 seed, but it didn’t work out. When you’re running good, people step up to beat you and there are a lot of good cars out here in this Top Fuel class and that’s what we’re going to expect in the Countdown. We’ll go home, rest up and go into attack mode for the last six races.
“We try to do the best we can every round. He just got me that time. We’ll keep our head down and just go after it in these six Countdown races. We’re not going to change the routine or formula. We have a great team and car and this will make us tighter as a group to try and win this championship.”
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Last event (Sept. 4-7, Indianapolis): Qualified No. 12; lost in second round to Dave Connolly
This spring at Four-Wide: Qualified No. 8; won in championship round
Last fall at Charlotte 2: Qualified No. 9; lost in first round to Spencer Massey
Career in fall event at Charlotte 2: Wins 1 (2011); Runner-ups 1 (2008); Poles 0
Career at Four-Wide: Wins 2 (2014, 2015); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
Career at zMAX: Wins 3; Runner-ups 1; Poles 0
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2015 2nd 18 4 2 4 3 5 5 0 32-14
CAREER 328 51 42 67 86 78 42 3 549-274
Best Time, Speed: 3.680 sec.-national record (2015, Brainerd); 330.88 mph (2015, Brainerd)
2015 NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(Official before 1 of 6 Countdown races; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER POINTS BEHIND
1. TONY SCHUMACHER 2,110 —–
2. ANTRON BROWN 2,080 -30
3. Richie Crampton 2,070 -40
4. Larry Dixon 2,060 -50
5. Brittany Force 2,050 -60
6. Shawn Langdon 2,040 -70
7. Doug Kalitta 2,030 -80
8. J.R. Todd 2,020 -90
9. Steve Torrence 2,010 -100
10. Dave Connolly 2,000 -110