ST. LOUIS (Sept. 25, 2016) – For only the second time in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Antron Brown lost in the opening round of eliminations.
It also marked the first time since 2011 that the driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster lost at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
Brown and the Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald and assistant Brad Mason lost in the first round to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Shawn Langdon, who went on to win the event.
Langdon’s 3.771-second pass at 325 mph edged Brown’s 3.774 (320) to end Brown’s four-race winning streak at the facility near St. Louis.
“It was a tough race,” Brown said. “We fought hard – it was a hard-fought battle and they did a really good job this weekend. With that, we’re just going to keep our heads forward, keep our heads down, and the good part is we get to race again next week. We were in good position in the points, we were padded. We lost some, but we still leave here in the top spot in the points.”
Langdon was able to take out second-place Doug Kalitta to leave Brown with a 13-point advantage over Kalitta after the second of six Countdown to the Championship events.
“Our main focus is to keep on working hard and pressing. I guarantee what it did was get all of us motivated even more. We’re definitely hungry and we’re in that race mode right now. Sometimes you’ve got to get a tune-up and the Good Lord knows He tuned us up this weekend because we fought hard and we gave it all we had and we know we can press that much harder.”
The third consecutive Mello Yello event takes place next weekend in Reading, Pa., where Brown and the Matco Tools team are defending event winners.
“That’s our focus right now, to go on to Reading and start off with qualifying, hit that Q1 hard, and get this Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota car where we know it needs to be.”
Event winner: Shawn Langdon (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Richie Crampton (Morgan Lucas Racing) 3.733 sec., 322.42 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Qualified: No. 12
First round: Shawn Langdon (3.771 sec., 325.53 mph) def. BROWN (3.774, 320.20)
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)
2016 NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Unofficial after St. Louis; 2 of 6 playoff races; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- ANTRON BROWN (5) 2258 —–
- Doug Kalitta (3) 2245 -13
- TONY SCHUMACHER (2/3) 2204 -54
- SHAWN LANGDON (2/3) 2181 -77
- Brittany Force (3) 2167 -91
- Steve Torrence (2) 2161 -97
- J.R. Todd (1) 2152 -106
- Richie Crampton 2127 -131
- LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 2107 -151
- Clay Millican 2084 -174