BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 21, 2016) – It was a near perfect weekend for Antron Brown and the reigning champion Matco Tools/U.S. Army team.
After securing their fourth event title of the season in the rain-delayed NHRA Northwest Nationals final from Seattle on Saturday at Brainerd International Raceway, they then clocked Brown’s career best elapsed time of 3.679 to earn the No. 1 qualifying position for Sunday’s Brainerd eliminations.
The success continued on Sunday in northern Minnesota when the Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason reached the final round of competition, their eighth final of the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. It was also the 105th final round appearance for two-time Top Fuel champion Brown.
“It was a great weekend for our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Pennzoil team,” Brown said. “That’s the way things go. We won one on Saturday and we made it to the final on Sunday. It was still an awesome, incredible weekend for us. I’m just so proud of Brian, Mark, Brad and all of our guys. They’ve done a phenomenal job this weekend and we have an incredible team.”
Brown had a .043-second reaction time to Force’s .080 before a mechanical failure that slowed the Matco Tools dragster and left Brown with a front row seat to see Force’s fiery win.
“In the final, they were going for it and tore their car up,” he said. “We had a part that never fails, fail. Our clutch locked up about 40 feet out.”
Brown carries momentum from back-to-back final round appearances into the prestigious U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis over Labor Day Weekend that serves as the final regular Mello Yello Series event before the points are reset for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff. Brown will also compete in the specialty Traxxas Shootout all-star race during the U.S. Nationals that pays $100,000 to the winner.
“When you make it to the final round you always want to win but we will take this momentum back to Indy. There’s the Traxxas all-star race that we’re in, there’s the U.S. Nationals, the biggest race heading into the Countdown. Our game plan is to go in there with our heads up and try to bring home both wins there. We have the team, the car that is very capable and competitive and I’m just excited.”
Event winner: Brittany Force (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.679 sec., 328.30 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualifying position: No. 1
First round: BROWN (3.730, 325.06) def. Chris Karamesines (4.118, 222.91)
Second round: BROWN (3.735, 315.19) def. Clay Millican (6.190, 103.70)
Semifinal: BROWN (3.726, 322.58) def. Tony Schumacher (3.754, 326.16)
Final: Brittany Force (4.169, 180.21) def. BROWN (6.566, 103.47)
FRIDAY: 3.749 sec., 321.58 mph, (Session 1); 5.338, 127.82, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.747, 320.13, (Session 3); 3.679, 328.30, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
Through 17 of 24 events including Brainerd; DSR DRIVERS IN CAPS
DRIVER (wins) PTS BEHIND
- ANTRON BROWN (4) 1424 ——
- Doug Kalitta (3) 1257 -167
- Steve Torrence (2) 1216 -208
- Brittany Force (3) 1161 -263
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 1117 -307
- JR Todd (1) 998 -426
- SHAWN LANGDON (2) 968 -456
- Richie Crampton 840 -584
- Clay Millican 822 -602
- LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 637 -787
- Terry McMillen 637 -787