JOLIET, Ill., (July 10, 2016) – Antron Brown has said for the past week that he felt like a gladiator when racing at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.
And on Sunday, Brown and the Matco Tools team conquered all at the 19th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals for his third win of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and his third Top Fuel title from Route 66.
The 57th career win for Brown propelled the Matco Tools team to the points lead for the first time in 2016 as the Mello Yello Series kicked off the second half of its 24-race tour.
“I don’t even think about it but it’s good that we got it,” Brown said of the points lead that will have great value for the driver ranked No. 1 when the Countdown to the Championship begins in September and points are reset.
“Those 30 points are crucial. It’s hard to make up 30 points when you only have 24 rounds of racing to win a championship. That’s two rounds. That’s going to be very crucial and we just have to keep working. Hopefully we can sneak it out and get those points that we need to help us for that title defense.”
Sunday’s Route 66 final round was the fifth of the season for the Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason.
“We are loving it right now,” Brown said. “We are starting to go in the right direction. Our car is responding to everything that Brian, Mark and all these Matco guys are doing to it. We found new things that is making it better. We are on to something and we are just going to keep improving upon that.
Our deal is we try to win every race we go to. We compete at a high level and our main goal is to come into a race and go out there and be efficient and that means getting every drop out of this lemon every time.
“We need to be on that level to be where we want to be at like where we were last year. That’s the key right now, getting your team and car ready to go to battle (in the Countdown to the Championship).”
Only five regular season races remain before NHRA kicks of its Countdown near Charlotte in September.
“We have a boss that is very, very competitive that hates to lose,” Brown said of team owner Don Schumacher, who resides near Chicago. “He gives you all the necessary pieces and tools so there’s never excuses. He gives you the push you need when you need it.”
Each trip to the winner’s circle is special for Brown who made the switch from the Pro Stock Motorcycle category to the 10,000-horsepower Top Fuel category in 2008.
“I’m going to be honest with you, it was just a dream for me to even drive a Top Fuel car,” Brown said. “Not even thinking about the success that we’ve had as a group or as a team. I drive the car and everybody always talks about how I do this, I do that but it’s not me doing it. It’s our whole team. We do it together. I’m very fortunate and blessed to be with a great group of guys, our front office, everybody at DSR in the fab shop. We have such a remarkable group of individuals that come together to make unbelievable things happen and I’m just fortunate to be a part of it.”
Event winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Brittany Force (John Force Racing) 3.692 sec.-track record, 325.69 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tool/U.S. Army
Qualifying position: No. 4
First round: BROWN (3.753, 325.06) def. Clay Millican (3.779, 313.80)
Second round: BROWN (3.785, 324.44) def. Terry McMillen (3.984, 304.53)
Semifinal: BROWN (3.762, 324.05) def. Leah Pritchett (3.814, 319.22)
Final: BROWN (3.777, 321.19) def. J.R. Todd (3.798, 322.11)
FRIDAY: 3.821 sec., 315.12 mph, (Session 1); 3.753, 319.37, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.815, 320.05, (Session 3); 3.733, 323.50, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
Unofficial through Joliet, Ill., 13 of 24 events, wins in parenthesis; DSR DRIVERS IN CAPS
- ANTRON BROWN (3) 1,056 —-
- Doug Kalitta (3) 1,054 -2
- Steve Torrence (2) 912 -144
- Brittany Force (2) 896 -160
- TONY SCHUMACHER 803 -253
- SHAWN LANGDON (2) 746 -310
- JR Todd 725 -331
- Clay Millican 623 -433
- Richie Crampton 603 -453
- LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 521 -535