CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 20, 2015) – Antron Brown took the Top Fuel points lead Sunday in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing and it came at a very good time after scoring his fifth win of the season on Sunday near Charlotte.
The Carolina NHRA Nationals marked the first of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoff and Antron’s win in the championship round enabled him to move around Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army team by nine points.
“The drivers always get all of the credit but we’re just one small part of the equation,” said Antron, whose Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with team manager Brad Mason eliminated his teammate in the semifinals.
“This goes to our whole DSR organization, all of our crew chiefs and all of our Matco guys that work so hard. The track was changing and getting hotter but the track still got better. All the credit goes to our team, what they do week in and week out.
“There is nothing like being up there for the final and you see your teammate Tony and he says ‘Go get ’em, AB’ and that’s what he did in the staging lanes. We went up there and were able to bring it home for DSR.”
Antron’s category-best fifth win of the season pushes his career total 52, which includes 36 in Top Fuel surpassing icon “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. The Top Fuel standings have been led every race by a DSR driver, including Shawn Langdon who was No. 1 for the first four races while he drove for Alan Johnson Racing.
The Countdown veteran who won the 2012 Top Fuel world championship understands the importance of opening the playoff strongly.
“You want to start off strong because it’s a sprint now. There’s six races for the championship. Do the math. There’s 24 rounds of racing left and the more rounds you win, the less other people have to catch you. Our main focus is one round at a time. We just let the chips fall where they fall and we give it all we have.
“I’m going to open up a little bit. I’m usually cool, calm, collected. I’ve been in a lot of high pressure situations, nothing normally gets to me. Today first round, for the first time throughout any Countdown we’ve ever been to I was thinking about what was at stake. I never do that. I just race.
“I went up there first round and it was a long tree. You have to sit there. It was so long that I wanted to go but I didn’t and when I did go I cut one of my worst lights ever. When I got back, Brian and Mark looked at me and they asked what happened. They looked at me and they pulled the reigns in on me and told me that this wasn’t any different and to just do what you do. They told me to have fun with it and that’s when I got back into my zone for the second round and had that same mindset through the finals. Just to have fun. That’s the whole name of the game.
“All of our Matco boys did an exceptional job navigating and making the changes they need to do to win out here. I’m blessed to be on the team that I’m on and we’re going to keep on pushing.”
The Countdown’s second race in three weeks begins Friday near St. Louis at Gateway Motorsports Park where Brown and the Matco Tools team have won three consecutive races near St. Louis.
Winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Clay Millican (Stringer Motorsports) 3.758 sec., 318.77 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 6
First round: BROWN (3.849 sec., 312.64 mph) def. Terry McMillen (4.739, 148.46)
Second round: BROWN (3.823, 314.90) def. Steve Torrence (no time)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.853, 311.85) def. Tony Schumacher (10.556, 72.86)
Final: BROWN (3.832, 311.55) def. J.R. Todd (4.063, 286.32)
SATURDAY: 3.854 sec., 311.05 mph, (Session 3); 3.852, 298.80, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 4.207, 201.28, (Session 1); 15.305, 39.31, (Session 2)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Charlotte 2; 19 of 24 races; 1 of 6 playoff racers DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND
1. ANTRON BROWN (5) 2,199 —-
2. TONY SCHUMACHER (3) 2,190 -9
3. Larry Dixon 2,117 -82
4. JR Todd (1) 2,114 -85
5. Richie Crampton (4) 2,101 -98
6. Brittany Force 2,082 -117
6t. Doug Kalitta 2,082 -117
8. SHAWN LANGDON (1) 2,073 -126
9. Steve Torrence (1) 2,069 -130
10. Dave Connolly 2,035 -164