BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 21, 2016) – The Countdown to the Championship got off to strong start for defending Top Fuel world champions Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team.
And they couldn’t be going to a better track for that momentum to continue than Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis where they have won the last four Top Fuel titles and will begin their “drive for five” on Friday in the fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.
“St. Louis has been so good to me. There are some places you go and everything just clicks and that has been one of them. But there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. We just have to take it one round at a time and that’s been our plan all along.
“I’m ready and my team’s ready, and we’ve got to be all in and we have to be ready together. That’s what it is going to take to compete and try to pull off some round wins against these teams. Nobody can relax right now. There’s still five races to go and we have to fight. This Countdown puts a lot of pressure on a lot of teams and a lot of teams step up. You can’t take anybody lightly.”
Just like they did in 2015, Brown and the team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald won the Countdown opener at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte last weekend and extended his points lead to 42 over Doug Kalitta in second.
“If we want to go out here and compete for a championship, we are going to have to outdo that (Kalitta) team,” Brown said. “We just have to go out there and keep doing what we’re doing and pressing hard. Hopefully we can be in this position at the end of the year and have a chance to bring this championship home.”
Brown feels like they key to success in the Countdown to the Championship is taking it one round at a time as they did in 2015. This weekend’s NHRA Midwest Nationals is the second of three consecutive Mello Yello events to start the Countdown.
“The reason I think we had success last year, once we got through the first race last year, we erased it from our memory bank. No matter how we did here (in Charlotte), it doesn’t make a difference going into the next race. When the pressure gets on, you have to push. We can’t come in here thinking it’s the Countdown, we screwed ourselves up numerous times and have had mishaps because of that.
“We learn from it, we changed our formula, our steps and processes so when you get to the Countdown you know what parts you need to replace, what parts you need to start new with. It plays out. We just are trying to replicate what we did last year.”
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Last event: Charlotte (Sept. 16-18): Qualified No. 7, won in championship round over Doug Kalitta
A year ago at St. Louis: Qualified No. 2, won in championship round over Dave Connolly
Career at St. Louis: Wins 5 (2009, 2012-15); Runner-ups 1 (2005-bike); Poles 3 (2001-bike, 2004-bike, 2012)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2016 1st 19 5 4 3 6 2 2 0 43-14
CAREER 353 59 47 72 93 80 46 3 611-291
Best Time, Speed: 3.679 sec., (2016, Brainerd; and first below 3.7, 2015, Brainerd); 331.12 mph (2015, Brainerd)
2016 NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Official after Charlotte; 1 of 6 playoff races; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- ANTRON BROWN (5) 2226 —–
- Doug Kalitta (3) 2184 -42
- Steve Torrence (2) 2126 -100
- Brittany Force (3) 2110 -116
- TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 2099 -127
- J.R. Todd (1) 2074 -152
- SHAWN LANGDON (2) 2067 -159
- LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 2054 -172
- Clay Millican 2052 -174
- Richie Crampton 2046 -180