CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 28, 2016) – It will be hard for Antron Brown to erase from his memory Sunday’s NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park eliminations near Phoenix.
But what the two-time and reigning NHRA Top Fuel world champion will do is use it to fuel him to be better for his Matco Tools team.
In the second round of Sunday’s eliminations, Brown had an uncharacteristic red light start that disqualified his run.
It was only the fifth red light his career that spans 336 events and more than 1,500 runs down the track, and his first since 2012 in Topeka, Kan.
“That’s all on me right there, I was just pushing too hard and just wanted to win bad,” Brown said. “Starting off the year you just want to do so many things; I know better. From all the experience we have from the other years, I’m glad it happened now. It’s a good learning deal, I just have to go out there and relax, and do what we do.”
The Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald and assistant Brad Mason qualified second for Sunday’s Wild Horse eliminations and posted a 3.766-second, 317-mph opening round win over Steve Chrisman.
“We had a great racecar, it felt great, it ran really good. I double stepped it and we had good numbers on that run. We’ll just get ready for Gainesville, but I hate it for my team, our Matco distributors, our soldiers and everybody else.
“Our car was running so strong and we had a great outing in qualifying. We just wanted to bring the win home. But I’m going to suck it up and go to the next race and come back hard.”
Brown will have to wait until the March 18-20 NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., to redeem himself as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series will take two weekends off before heading to the Sunshine state.
“Gainesville’s always been a good race for us so we’re going to get after it,” Brown said. “It hurts right now and it’s not going to stop hurting because this is going be a scar that’s going to last for a long time. We’re going use that as our energy.
“Brian came down and woke everybody up saying, ‘We’ve got to have fun doing this.’ We’ve been there, we know what it takes to win rounds and races. That’s what we do, we don’t have to push too hard. I just pushed too far today.”
Event winner: Leah Pritchett (Bob Vandergriff Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.741 sec., 320.74 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2
First round: BROWN (3.766 sec., 317.64 mph) def. Steve Chrisman (4.119, 257.04)
Second round: Leah Pritchett (3.808, 322.19) def. BROWN (4.196, 206.16/redlight disqualification)
SATURDAY: 3.806 sec., 315.56 mph, (Session 3); 3.760, 322.65, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 14.877 sec., 37.92 mph, (Session 1); 3.765, 319.45, (Session 2)
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Standings
(Unofficial after 2 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
TOP FUEL (WINS) POINTS
1 Doug Kalitta 181
2 Steve Torrence (1) 163
3 Leah Pritchett (1) 139
3 Brittany Force 133
4 Clay Millican 131
6 ANTRON BROWN 110
7 Richie Crampton 109
8 JR Todd 105
9 Tony Schumacher 98
10 Terry McMillen 97
12 SHAWN LANGDON 64