BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 15, 2016) – Antron Brown might consider this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tenn., as somewhat of a vacation.
The two-time and reigning Top Fuel world champion in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series considers several East Coast races to be “hometown” events along with the U.S. Nationals over Labor Day Weekend near Indianapolis where he lives with his family.
But the epicenter for him is Englishtown, N.J., near where he grew up and starred in sports during his years in high school and community college at Chesterfield, N.J.
That meant last week’s Summernationals at the track where he grew up watching his father and uncle race was another edition of his annual gathering of family and friends at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Needless to say, it’s busy week for him every year.
Adding to the pomp and circumstance time was being honored by Chesterfield when Mayor Jeremy Leidtka presented Brown with an “Antron Brown Way” sign that will adorn a street in a new development in his real hometown.
“No award could compare to the honor of having a street named after you,” said Brown, a standout athlete and student at Northern Burlington High School and later at Mercer County Community College in the Chesterfield area.
“Whenever I think about having a street named after me, I’m like, ‘Am I worthy?’ I’m honored and humbled at the same time. Presidents get streets named after them, and I’m not a president.”
The only honor that escaped Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason Sunday was not leaving with the Mello Yello points lead. He watched points leader Doug Kalitta lose in the quarterfinals and Kalitta was there for the taking. But a few pairs of dragsters later, Brown lost to teammate Tony Schumacher who went on to the final round.
“It would’ve been nice to make up some points on Doug because he went out right in front of us, and we saw that,” said Brown, who has won two titles in 10 events this year and arrives at Bristol ranked second and only 49 points out of first.
Sunday was the first time in seven races the Matco team did not reach the semifinals.
The Matco Tools team qualified second but had nagging mechanical problems on some qualifying laps and during Sunday’s eliminations.
“The car ran like we wanted it to Friday night, but we didn’t make it all the way down the track and we had some more issues Saturday. The good thing about all these races right now is our Matco boys will get it figured out and we’ll keep getting better.”
He’s also optimistic that this could be the year he adds a Bristol trophy to his collection. He has only advanced the final round once (2011) at picturesque Bristol Dragway, which is one of only two NHRA national event tracks out of 21 that he has yet to conquer.
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Last event (June 12), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 2, lost in second round to Tony Schumacher
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 6, lost in first round to Richie Crampton
Career at Bristol: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2011; Poles 2 (2010, 2012)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2016 2nd 10 2 2 2 3 2 1 0 20-8
CAREER 344 56 45 71 90 80 45 3 588-285
Best Time, Speed: 3.680 sec., (first below 3.7, 2015, Brainerd); 331.12 mph (2015, Brainerd)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official through Englishtown, N.J., after 10 of 24 events, wins in parenthesis; DSR DRIVERS IN CAPS)
- Doug Kalitta (3) 847 —-
- ANTRON BROWN (2) 798 -49
- Steve Torrence (2) 782 -65
- Brittany Force (2) 693 -154
- TONY SCHUMACHER 577 -270
- J.R. Todd 528 -319
- Clay Millican 507 -340
- Richie Crampton 483 -364
- SHAWN LANGDON 478 -369
- LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 377 -470