POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2016) – If the NHRA Winternationals season-opener at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona is any indicator, the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season is going to be filled with close races and some of the toughest Top Fuel competition in history.

Reigning and two-time Top Fuel world champ Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team eliminated teammate and 2013 Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon in the first round of competition before losing to eventual event runner-up Doug Kalitta in the second round.

“It was a good drag race,” Brown said. “We were pushing hard but they just got the best of us. We learned a lot and we gained a lot with some of the new stuff we’ve been bringing to the table. The bad part of our last run was that we were out in front of him down the whole racetrack before we dropped a hole (cylinder) at 800 feet. That would’ve been enough to get him because we were ahead by almost two-hundredths at half-track.”

Brown, who qualified seventh, has been to the past two final rounds at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

“Our package was strong enough to run a high (3.78) or .79, good enough to get the win,” Brown said. “But we’re just going to bring it all together and build from here at our next race at Phoenix. We’ll get our game faces on and hit it hard. You know, this class is ridiculously competitive right now, but this is the way we want it.”

A few hours after the race, Brown headed to Las Vegas to participate in the annual Matco Tools EXPO business conference where he will unveil the 2016 paint scheme for his Matco dragster.

“EXPO is where everyone from Matco gets together and it’s just a really great experience,” he said. “We’re going to unveil our special 2016 scheme with everyone from Matco and there’s no better way to do that than with them. This racing program is for them and I couldn’t be happier about our partnership.”

The Mello Yello series resumes in two weeks at Wild Horse Motorsports Park near Phoenix.

Event winner: Steve Torrence
No. 1 qualifier: Torrence (Torrence Racing), 3.703 sec., 328.06 mph

ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7
First round opponent: BROWN (3.768 sec., 320.97) def. Shawn Langdon (5.478, 132.78)
Second round: Doug Kalitta (3.785, 323.97) def. BROWN (3.803, 317.72)
SATURDAY: 3.901 sec., 307.79 mph, (Session 3); 3.754 322.73, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 4.491, 173.34, (Session 1); 3.782, 315.05, (Session 2)

(After 1st of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
Top Fuel                     Points
1. Steve Torrence          126
2. Doug Kalitta                 94
3. Richie Crampton          77
4. JR Todd                       72
5. Clay Millican                57
6. Morgan Lucas              52
7. ANTRON BROWN       48
8. Terry McMillen              46
10. Dave Connolly            33