BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 9, 2016) – The central reason for the recent domination in Top Fuel by Antron Brown and Don Schumacher Racing’s Matco Tools/U.S. Army team can be summed up in one word: acceleration.
Not just on the racetrack but also in continuous development.
You’ll never see the team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason accept complacency.
Not even after a dominant 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season in which the Matco team produced its second Top Fuel world championship in four years and Brown won a career-best seven national event titles – 36 over the past seven years – and seven No. 1 qualifying positions.
“We’re not going in with the mindset we have something to defend or repeat,” Brown said. “Everybody’s slate is wiped cleaned when we get to Pomona.”
Brown is eager for the season to officially open Friday with the 56th annual NHRA Winternationals after spending most of last week testing at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix where his best time was 3.768 seconds at 297.88 mph, and the slow speed indicates one of his many early shutoffs including 3.758 (292.20), 3.775 (272.12), 3.825 (274.00) and 3.791 (320.13).
“We ran decent but we never run it all the way out,” said Brown, whose team clinched the Mello Yello championship a year ago at the penultimate event. “We had planned shutoffs at 800 feet and that’s what we did. We never leaned on it. We tested something on every run; most of it worked and a few things didn’t but that’s why we were out there.”
Brown owns 38 Top Fuel titles since joining the class in 2008 after winning 16 times in Pro Stock Motorcycle, but has not won the Winternationals in nine previous tries although he has won the NHRA Finals at Pomona three times.
However, he has advanced to the final round at Pomona 11 times including in last year’s Winternationals and Finals when he lost to DSR teammate Shawn Langdon both times.
“I hope we both get to the Finals on Sunday so I can beat him on live TV,” Brown joked.
Sunday’s championship eliminations will mark the first of 17 live telecasts with NHRA’s new broadcast partner FOX Network and FS1 that will carry all 24 Mello Yello events that will be complemented by encore broadcasts throughout the year.
“This new relationship with FOX already has been great and the season hasn’t started,” said Brown, who was interviewed live with Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria on Saturday night during FS1’s live telecast of the Supercross race near Phoenix.
Brown also notes there will be added pressure on his Matco crew to get his dragster ready in short time between rounds on Sundays.
“Our Matco boys never had a break when we were testing because we were always changing something, and that is one way we’re getting ready for all these great live shows coming up on FOX and FS1.
“We threw the guys into the fire. We never did a routine service over four days of testing. They had to adapt and they did. We learned a lot.”
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster – won 2015 Top Fuel world championship
Last event (Nov. 14-16, 2015, at Pomona): Qualified No. 1, lost in final round to Shawn Langdon (AJR)
2015 Pomona 1: Qualified No. 11, lost in final round to Shawn Langdon
Career at Pomona 1: Wins 0; Runner-ups 3 (2015, 2012, 2009); Poles 2 (2009, 2008)
Career at Pomona: Wins 3; Runner-ups 5; Poles 3
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2015 1st 24 7 3 6 3 5 7 0 51-17
CAREER 334 54 43 69 86 78 44 3 568-277
Best Time, Speed: 3.680 sec.-national record, first 3.6 (2015, Brainerd); 331.12 mph (2015, Brainerd)