KENT, Wash. (Aug. 7, 2016) – Antron Brown will have to wait to see if he can add a fourth Top Fuel title to his collection of 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series trophies.
NHRA officials were forced to postpone the running of the Top Fuel and Funny Car final rounds of the 29th annual Protect the Harvest NHRA Northwest Nationals to the third qualifying session at the NHRA Nationals in two weeks at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.
Mello Yello Series teams faced cool, overcast conditions all day after the first round of eliminations was delayed about 90 minutes due to rain showers. It was a quick day for the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team when they were able to race at Pacific Raceways. Brown posted an opening round win with a 3.702-second pass at 324 mph and followed that up with a 3.685 (328) in the quarterfinals.
The Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald won the semifinal round with a 3.736 (322) to earn a final match against Steve Torrence.
Brown’s Matco team extended its points lead over Doug Kalitta to 100 points and a win over Torrence would pad that by 20.
“The whole Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota/Pennzoil guys just did a fantastic job all weekend,” Brown said. “We just kept getting better and better as the weekend went on. That’s the main thing, we are just gaining ground to get to where we needed to be. I’m really thrilled but I wish we would’ve gotten this race in. I felt real confident with what we were going to throw down in the final. We will take it to Brainerd and we’ll see how we can finish this bad boy off.”
Brown extended his Top Fuel points lead over Doug Kalitta in second after Kalitta lost in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations.
“It’ll put a little pressure on us (in Brainerd) but it also puts a little more meaning in qualifying which is special,” Brown said. “It doesn’t make a difference who you run, you have to run quick to beat everyone right now. The CAPCO (Torrence) car has been a strong, dominate force this whole year but we are right there. I think it’s going to be a great show.”
Winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing) or Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors)
No. 1 qualifier: Tony Schumacher (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.686 sec.-track record, 323.58 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 4
First round: BROWN (3.702 sec., 324.28 mph) def. T.J. Zizzo (3.815, 282.95)
Second round: BROWN (3.685, 328.14) def. Clay Millican (3.790, 275.84)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.736, 322.58) def. Morgan Lucas (4.679, 157.17)
Final: BROWN vs. Steve Torrence
FRIDAY: 3.796 sec., 314.31 mph, (Session 1); 3.737, 323.19, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.717, 323.66, (Session 3); 5.102, 136.54, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
Through 16 of 24 events with Top Fuel and Funny Car finals to be held in two weeks at Brainerd, Minn.; wins in parenthesis; DSR DRIVERS IN CAPS
- ANTRON BROWN (3 or 4) 1301 or 1321
- Doug Kalitta (3) 1201
- Steve Torrence (2 or 3) 1177 or 1197
- Brittany Force (2) 1044
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 1036
- JR Todd (1) 960
- SHAWN LANGDON (2) 888
- Richie Crampton 806
- Clay Millican 770
10. LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 604