BAYTOWN, Texas (May 1, 2016) – Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team continued their impressive performance in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season at this weekend’s NHRA SpringNationals near Houston.
The Matco Tools/U.S. Army team came up short in the semifinal round of reaching their third straight Top Fuel final round. For the first time in 17 head-to-head matches, Steve Torrence got the edge over Brown to advance to the final round where he lost to Doug Kalitta.
But that doesn’t have Brown concerned.
“We had a good race weekend,” he said. “We’ve been fighting hard and having a little trouble here at the racetrack with a few different elements. The track was so tight and with the water grains (humidity), we were focused on getting the power off the starting line. We were right there, that run. We were ahead at halftrack and hit the bump in the track in that lane and it dropped a (cylinder), when it dropped the hole it put tension on the blower belt and spit the blower belt right off. My car, it felt like it went backwards. It just shut off.
“It was a hard fought race and the better team got it today. Torrence’s car ran exceptionally well all weekend and we gave it our best shot. We’ll work on it. We have to keep pushing and making progress. We made up some quality points this weekend.”
Brown moved within 19 points of leader Brittany Force for the Top Fuel points lead but fell from second to third. The Matco tools team picked up five total bonus points during qualifying by being best and second best of Saturday qualifying in challenging hot and humid conditions.
“I’m real stoked about the performance of our team. Any time you can go rounds like that with the competition level where it’s at, you’re definitely doing something right. We just have to keep on pushing and not stop. We are improving each and every weekend. We’re very consistent and very efficient.”
The Matco Tools team with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald are playing a key role in the overall performance improvement in Don Schumacher Racing’s Top Fuel program. The SpringNationals event marked the first time that all three dragsters advanced through the first round of Sunday’s eliminations.
“All of the crew chiefs are working together at DSR,” Brown said. “With our Red Fuel and U.S. Army teammates, you see the progress that we’ve been making where all of our cars are coming together and running better.
“We’re getting back to the cohesiveness like we had when we all first, second and third in the points. All of these cars out here are running well but we need to get all three of these DSR dragsters to run their best because when we do that we pull off each other and it pushes us to new levels.”
The Mello Yello tour visits Atlanta on May 13-15 for the NHRA Southern Nationals.
Event Winner: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors) 3.724 sec. (track record), 329.42 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tool/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: BROWN (3.823, 313.66) def. J.R. Todd (5.054, 142.26)
Second round: BROWN (3.780, 321.37) def. Scott Palmer (4.014, 266.69)
Semifinal: Steve Torrence (3.730, 327.03) def. BROWN (3.769, 309.34)
SATURDAY: 3.849 sec., 310.20 mph (Session ); 3.825, 313.88, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 3.781 sec., 321.58 mph, (Session 1); 3.759, 321.53, (Session 2)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Houston, wins in parenthesis; DSR DRIVERS IN CAPS)
1.Brittany Force (2) 464 —-
2. Doug Kalitta (1) 463 -1
3. ANTRON BROWN (1) 445 -19
4. Steve Torrence (1) 417 -47
5. Clay Millican 355 -109
6. JR Todd 316 -148
7. TONY SCHUMACHER 295 -169
8. Leah Pritchett (1) 291 -173
9. Richie Crampton 275 -189
10. Terry McMillen 274 -190
11. SHAWN LANGDON 219 -245