CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 19, 2015) – When the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship kicked off this weekend at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, Antron Brown knew how crucial every trip down the racetrack would be.
After the Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald were unable to make a full pull on the 1,000-foot course during Friday’s two qualifying sessions, the crew chief duo worked together to make sure that wasn’t the case for Saturday’s qualifying.
They were successful in Saturday’s opening lap under sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s where the Matco Tools dragster carrying more than 1,400 names of Matco distributors posted the best lap of the session with a 3.854-second pass at 311 mph to move the team into the fifth qualifying position while also earning three bonus points.
“Every run is important,” Antron said. “That was a really crucial run, because that shows what we are going to have to run in tomorrow. To come out with those three extra bonus points puts us in a really good spot. Move into the top half of the field so we have lane choice for first round and I think that is going to be a real key tomorrow to be in the right position in the right spot especially when these matchups get that critical.”
NHRA awards the team with the low elapsed time of each session with three bonus points, second best with two points and third best with one. The Matco team knows how important little points are in the big picture of the championship fight.
Another bonus from that lap was that it moved them into the top half of the16-car field for Sunday’s NHRA Carolina Nationals that begin at noon (Eastern). The Matco team will get their choice of lanes during the first round of eliminations.
“Right now the left lane seems to be the lane of choice, but people are running good in the right lane also,” Antron said. “So we just have to pick whatever the best lane is tomorrow. We know the right lane has a little bit more rubber, more surface when you get to the asphalt on the top end. The left lane seems to be a little better on the starting line than the right lane.”
The tricky conditions can be difficult for Mello Yello series crew chiefs but Corradi and Oswald proved throughout qualifying that they can adjust to any scenario.
“It’s very tricky for the crew chiefs right now,” Antron said. “This is the deal that makes or breaks the crew chiefs right now to show what they are made of because they have to go out there and keep working and try to make the right decision especially when all these rounds we are racing now are so crucial. There are only 24 rounds left to win the championship and we have to go after every one.”
The Matco team earned two of the precious bonus points by posting the second quickest elapsed time of the final qualifying session. Larry Dixon’s 3.83 pass was the best of the session while bumping Brown down one slot to the No. 6 qualifier. Brown will race veteran Terry McMillen in round one on Sunday.
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualifying position: No. 6
First round: BROWN vs. Terry McMillen
FRIDAY: 4.207 sec., 201.28 mph, (Session 1); 15.305, 39.31, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.854, 311.05, (Session 3); 3.852, 298.80, (Session 4)