GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2016) – Antron Brown stays humble despite all of the success he has had in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
On Sunday at the 47th annual NHRA Gatornationals, he was reminded just how humbling this sport can be when his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster hazed the tires and lost in the first round to opponent Terry McMillen.
“It is a humbling sport,” said two-time and reigning world champion Brown. “Sometimes you’re pressing and you’re pressing hard because you don’t want to take anyone lightly. We thought the track could hold it and it was a little bit aggressive on the starting line and it got us.”
The Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, who was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame on Thursday, qualified third with an elapsed time of 3.729 seconds at 318 mph.
“It’s alright, we’re just going to keep our head down and move forward. We’ve got our next race in Vegas in two weeks and we’re going to do a little testing between now and then. We’re probably going to test here in Gainesville (Monday) a little bit and we’re just going to try to get back on track with our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota dragster. We just need to get back to doing what we know how to do. One thing I can tell you for sure is this is going to make us better.”
The winner of 38 Top Fuel titles in his career has not reached a semifinal in this season’s three events. The Gatornationals weekend was a bit of a challenge for NHRA teams. Saturday’s qualifying sessions were delayed because of rain showers and the sun was out on race day morning, heating the track up quickly before the first round.
“There was nothing wrong with the track, the track was still good even when the sun came out,” Brown said. “It got to 98, 99 degrees. It’s just been plaguing us this year where the car gets a little aggressive early. Brian and Mark were talking about it earlier and that’s the reason why we have to keep making laps so we can actually get back into the zone we’re used to being in where our car is going to do exactly what we think it’s going to do each and every round. It’s just been aggressive and we just have to get back to doing what we do.”
Top Fuel competition has been incredible through the first three races of the 2016 Mello Yello season. On Sunday, only three of the eight higher qualified cars advanced to the second round.
“The No. 1 qualifier went home first round, we’re No. 3 and going home first round. With that being said you can’t take anyone lightly but that’s what makes this sport what it is right now. You have to rise to the occasion and we’re on that trail right now.”
Event winner: Brittany Force (John Force Racing)
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
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: McMillen (3.850, 310.34) def. BROWN (9.021, 75.74)
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)
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Standings
(Unofficial after 3 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS; wins in parenthesis)
1. Brittany Force (1) 251
2. Clay Millican 210
3. Doug Kalitta 205
4. Steve Torrence (1) 199
5. Terry McMillen 178
6. Leah Pritchett (1) 166
7. JR Todd 157
8. TONY SCHUMACHER 155
9. Richie Crampton 153
10. ANTRON BROWN 149
11. Dave Connolly 144
12. SHAWN LANGDON 96