BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 7, 2017) – Three-time Top Fuel champion Antron Brown, who has won the past two prestigious NHRA titles, and the Matco Tools team enter the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season-opening NHRA Winternationals on Friday with plans to step up to a whole new level.
During the offseason at Don Schumacher Racing headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind., Brown and the team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason looked at ways they could improve their championship formula.
“When you have a team that isn’t worried about going home at 5 o’clock, they will stay there until 6 or 7 or come in on the weekends to do what they need to do. That is when you know you have a driven team,” Brown said. “They don’t worry about me working because they know I’m always in the gym working and doing my part and they do their part. Then we come together as a whole.
“We aren’t just satisfied going out there and racing. Once we get to that point that we are just out there to be out there then is the time to step aside and give somebody else their shot to do what they want to do and live their dream. Right now we are still so passionate and driven. The part that drives us is each and every year the competition steps up and they get tougher, better, stronger. That is what makes us look inside ourselves. How can we raise the bar? What we did last year isn’t going to make it happen this year. We are going to have to reinvent ourselves and come out and get better. Sometimes we take a step backward to get better.
“We are going to go into 2017 with that same formula. What can we work on to improve upon that formula? At the last two races we saw the Kalitta cars come out swinging hard, very hard, that is going to be a team competing for a championship and we have to battle them. We have to come back and step up to that level.”
They’re off to a good start after 10 test runs at Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix last week.
“Testing went good. We feel really good after testing,” Brown said. “We actually implemented a lot of new things. We tried new things like different clutch discs, valve train stuff, all kinds of different stuff. With that being said some things worked really well and some things made our car more aggressive. We learned a lot. We have some things that we think will be very beneficial going forward.
“It makes us feel good going into Pomona. The weather is going to be good for us to run harder. We might be able to run high-3.60s there. We feel good getting all the cobwebs out. Especially for me as a driver, I feel good after 10 runs down the racetrack I feel back in the zone going back into Pomona.”
ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Last event (Nov. 11-13, 2016, at Pomona): Qualified No. 4, lost in semifinals to J.R. Todd
2016 Pomona 1: Qualified No. 7, lost in second round to Doug Kalitta
Career at Pomona 1: Wins 0; Runner-ups 3 (2015, 2012, 2009); Poles 2 (2009, 2008)
Career at Pomona: Wins 3; Runner-ups 5; Poles
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2016 1st 24 7 4 5 6 2 3 0 55-17
CAREER 358 61 47 74 93 80 47 3 623-294
Best Time, Speed: 3.679 sec., (2016, Brainerd; and first below 3.7, 2015, Brainerd); 331.12 mph (2015, Brainerd)
NHRA Winternationals Event Schedule (All times PT)
Friday: 1, 4 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1, 4 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
ON FS1/FOX (All times ET)
Friday: 7-8 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: 1-2 p.m., live qualifying on FS1
Sunday: 4-7 p.m., live eliminations on FOX