ST. LOUIS (Sept. 24, 2016) – Antron Brown will compete for his fifth consecutive title at Gateway Motorsports Park on Sunday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis.
In order to five-peat, Brown will have to overcome qualifying from the bottom-half of the 16-car field for the first time in 23 races (Reading, 2015) and get by an opening round match-up with Don Schumacher Racing teammate Shawn Langdon.
“It’s racing,” Brown said. “The good part is (our struggle) didn’t happen on race day. It happened during qualifying. You take the good with the bad, and it’s never a bad day when we’re at the racetrack.”
The last time the Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason qualified in the 12th spot, they went on to win the event.
“The good thing is, we’re in the show, we know what we’re capable of and we know what we can run. That last lap we were trying to run a 3.75. We just had a hole out early, so we’ll just find out where we had a little problem there and get after it tomorrow.”
The Matco Tools team has a 33-point lead over Doug Kalitta heading into Sunday’s eliminations that will be telecast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 2 p.m. (ET). They started the Countdown to the Championship last weekend with the title at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, the fifth of the season in nine final round appearances for the Matco Tools team.
“First lap tomorrow will be cooler, so the track will be similar conditions, which means we’ll go up there trying to make the same lap we tried to make tonight without the hole out. We know what it takes to run well.”
Conditions at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis during the first weekend of fall have resembled the heat of the summer instead
“It’s been a pretty hot weekend out here and a lot of teams have done well. That’s how tough this racing is right now. Everybody’s out running so well and so close. We’ll just hope all of our struggles are out of the way during qualifying.”
No. 1 qualifier: Richie Crampton (Morgan Lucas Racing) 3.733 sec., 322.42 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualifying position: No. 12
First round opponent: Shawn Langdon
FRIDAY: 3.808 sec., 314.39 mph, (Session 1); 5.467, 126.19, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.811, 316.97, (Session 3); 3.928, 270.64, (Session 4)