GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19, 2016) – The Matco Tools/U.S. Army team started its stay in Gainesville, Fla., this week by picking up a trophy before its Top Fuel dragster rolled out of the trailer, and now it wants nothing more than to earn another one Sunday in the 47th annual NHRA Gatornationals.

Co-crew chief Mark Oswald was inducted into the International Drag Hall of Fame on Thursday but Matco driver and two-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown was unable to attend because of a previous commitment to be in Los Angeles that night for the annual Toyota Motorsports Day.

“It’s always special to come to the Gatornationals, and this weekend especially because of Mark getting inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame,” said Brown, who is qualified No. 3 with a best time of 3.729 seconds for Sunday’s championship eliminations. “I was disappointed that I couldn’t be there to introduce Mark at the ceremony. It was such a special deal because that’s more than history, it shows you the stature of the man Mark is.”

Brown with Oswald and fellow crew chief Brian Corradi have won two of the past four NHRA Top Fuel world championships and have been the dominant team since 2009 when they have won 36 event titles.

As a Funny Car driver for the legendary Candies & Hughes team, Oswald won the 1984 NHRA world championship.

But for Brown, Oswald accomplishments away from the track are greater.

“He’s been a hero to me and our other crew chief Brian Corradi before we raced with him,” Brown said. “Mark is a brother to us because of the way he carries himself. Mark is our rock. He’s always stable and always there for you; that’s Mark Oswald.

“His emotions are never high and never low. It’s easy to see why he’s won so much in his career.
He’s really helped take this Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team to a higher level with his heart, his mind and his soul.”

Championship eliminations begin at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday with a three-hour live telecast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) starting at 1 p.m. (ET).

No. 1 qualifier: Richie Crampton (Morgan Lucas Racing) 3.698 sec. (track record), 317.42 mph

ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster
Qualified: No. 3
First round: BROWN vs. Clay Millican
SATURDAY: 4.152 sec., 202.88 mph, (Session 3); 3.729, 318.54, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 4.798 sec, 149.70, (Session 1); 3.755, 319.07, (Session 2)