LAS VEGAS (Oct. 30, 2016) – Antron Brown became the first driver in the nitro category to score a back-to-back championship since 2009 on Sunday at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Brown clinched his third NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Top Fuel world championship Sunday and for the second straight year he did it at Las Vegas and was able to bank the $500,000 bonus for Don Schumacher Racing with one event left in the season.
The Matco team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with Brad Mason provided Don Schumacher Racing with its 15th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.
It was the Matco Tools team’s third world championship in five seasons when the only driver who could catch them, Doug Kalitta, lost in the second round and Brown followed with a win in that round of the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“First of all, we need to give all the glory to God above for making this all happen,” said Brown, who celebrated with his wife, Billie Jo.
He lost in the semifinals to good friend Steve Torrence, who went on to win the event title and moved into the No. 2 spot in the standings.
“Steve (Torrence) won that one, but we got it done. Brian, Mark and our whole team have worked so hard. I’m just privileged to drive that racecar for Don Schumacher Racing because Don makes it happen.
“This sport goes way back in my life, and my wife knows we do everything together, it’s a family sport and that’s what it’s all about. My whole family – my dad, my uncle, my grandma, everybody – they instilled this in me at a young age: work hard and you can make great things happen. Put great people around you. And I’ve been blessed to have every single one of these things happen.
“Every championship is hard to win. You don’t go into the Countdown expecting to win a race, you just go in saying I hope we can win some rounds. If you can win 14 to 16 rounds, that’s what wins the Countdown. You just need to be steady and let everything flow like water. You can never think about how close you are to a championship, just stay focused on every round. Once you win a race, you erase that and move on to the next.”
The Matco Tools team will head to the season finale in Pomona, Calif., in two weeks with work to do still. Brown is seeking his eighth event title of the season, what would be a career best.
“There’s no letting up now, though. We wanted to win that semifinal. We won seven races last season and now we want to go to Pomona and try to win eight this year. We really wanted to win here and go for nine. We’ll have fun, but we want to end the year on a sweet note. We’re not going there to be happy, we’re going there to win. We don’t go to race just wanting to have fun – because you know what’s fun? Ending up in that winner’s circle.
“And as soon as we’re done at Pomona, we’re going to go back to the shop and figure out how to get better for next year.”
Event winner: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors)
No. 1 qualifier: Clay Millican (Stringer Performance) 3.689 sec.-track record, 327.27 mph
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools’ Tools for the Cause/U.S. Army
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; assistant: Brad Mason
Qualified: No. 4
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: BROWN (3.765 sec., 323.89 mph) def. Terry McMillen (6.274, 108.62)
Second round: BROWN (3.771, 322.11) def. Wayne Newby (3.896, 273.11)
Semifinals: J.R. Todd (3.719, 329.02) def. BROWN (7.720, 92.29)
FRIDAY: 3.792 sec., 314.02 mph, (Session 1); 3.723, 324.59, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.757, 320.97, (Session 3); 3.730, 318.62, (Session 4)
2016 NHRA Countdown to the Championship Top Fuel Standings
(Official after Las Vegas 2; 5 of 6 playoff races; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- ANTRON BROWN (7) 2581 —– ** clinched world champion
- Steve Torrence (3) 2424 -157
- Doug Kalitta (3) 2413 -168
- Brittany Force (3) 2366 -215
- SHAWN LANGDON (3) 2365 -216
- J.R. Todd (1) 2352 -229
- LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 2334 -247
- TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 2332 -249
- Clay Millican 2232 -349
- Richie Crampton 2227 -354