Brown reaches 100th career final round at Heartland Park Topeka but Matco Tools team leaves Kansas Nationals with runner-up finish
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 22, 2016) – Antron Brown reached a career milestone on Sunday at the NHRA Kansas Nationals that only nine others have accomplished in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history.
Brown reached the 100th final of his career that includes two Top Fuel championships and 55 event titles. Unfortunately, the Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald was unable to turn that 100th final round appearance into victory after Brown lost a pedalfest to opponent Doug Kalitta in the Kansas Nationals final round.
“That’s definitely a huge compliment but that’s just a testament to our team,” Brown said of his 100th final round appearance. “We always go into race day with a lot of confidence, it doesn’t make a difference where we qualify. We just compete. We compete at a high level and we’re very efficient. It’s just a tough war. We just like getting those race wins but we weren’t able to get it here. Our team is hungry and we can’t wait to head to those four races in a row to get back after it.”
The Mello Yello Series begins a grueling stretch of four consecutive weekends of events on June 3-5 at the NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, N.H. But this runner-up finish might sting a bit for Brown until they can get on track again. Topeka is one of three remaining racetracks where Brown has not claimed an event title.
“It’s not what we wanted, for sure,” Brown said of the final round where the Matco Tools dragster lost traction and he couldn’t get it to recover quick enough to overcome Kalitta, who also lost traction en route to his second straight and third overall title this year. “The track looked like it was better and we weren’t trying to run slow, we were definitely trying to do better.
“I was just trying to give it all we’ve got. I just didn’t keep my car straight enough in the groove to really get back on it sooner. To lose out there by two tenths (of a second), it breaks you down. We’ve worked so hard and all the guys have worked really hard for this one and we just wanted to bring it home.”
Brown’s Matco Tools dragster was charging hard at the finish but came up short by a few feet. It was the fifth consecutive time the team has reached at least the semifinal round of competition.
“It was hard at the end. We came up on him at the big end. They got a little bit further down the track before they lost traction so we came up a little bit short. But all in all, these past five races have been good. We’ve been to the semifinals or further. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and keep plugging away. That one got away from us but we’ll go back to work and head to the next race.”
Event winner: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Brittany Force (John Force Racing) 3.676-national record, 325.45
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tool/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying position: No. 8
First round opponent: JR Todd
FRIDAY: 3.743 sec., 323.120 mph, (Session 1); 3.877, 242.50, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.875, 259.96, (Session 3); 3.773, 317.60, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Topeka after 8 of 24 events, wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Doug Kalitta (3) 710
2. ANTRON BROWN (1) 615
3. Brittany Force (2) 580
4. Steve Torrence (1) 557
5. JR Todd 440
6. Clay Millican 440
7. Richie Crampton 418
8. TONY SCHUMACHER 403
9. SHAWN LANGDON 346
10. Terry McMillen 310
11. LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 308