TOPEKA, Kan. (May 21, 2017) – Antron Brown and the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team were able to end a two-race winning streak by Steve Torrence by beating him in Sunday’s final round of the NHRA Heartland Nationals at Topeka, Kan.
The win followed Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS winning their fourth straight Funny Car title to give DSR its fifth nitro sweep in eight races this year and the 66th since 2004.
Brown’s second win of the year and 63rd of his career, which includes 47 in Top Fuel, is his first at Topeka and leaves Bristol, Tenn., where he has not been in the winner’s circle.
“We always have a great car and run well here, we just hadn’t won here before,” he said.
“This weekend the competition has been so tight and on edge every lap. My hat is off to the entire Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team. We got into the old groove that we’ve been in and we went out there and raced our hearts out. It feels really good to get a win here in Topeka. I’ve been wanting to win this race for so long. We just attacked it like we do every race and gave it our all every round and this weekend it worked out for us.”
“I was flying in from Vegas and I looked at the weather for this weekend and when I saw it was going to be cool I was thinking it’s going to be fast in Topeka. We didn’t have any tornadoes this weekend. We just had a whole bunch of hurricanes going down the track.”
Brown, whose other win this year was at Las Vegas, posted the fastest lap of his career at 333.16 mph during qualifying when he earned the third seed for eliminations. His speed was the world record until Brittney Force topped it by 0.50 mph in the first round.
The race had added meaning to Brown, who honored the late Bruce Ashida of Kingman, Kan., who recently died.
“A family came out this weekend whose husband and father had recently passed and the gentleman’s name was Bruce. His wife, Deb, and their whole family brought out his ashes in a little zipped-up bag. Bruce was not only a huge drag racing fan, but had raced himself and all he wanted to do was go 300 miles per hour.
“We zip-tied him onto the roll cage and he rode with me for that world record mile-per-hour run. He rode with me all weekend and when I gave his ashes back to his family, I gave them each a time slip. But the coolest thing was being able to give four more time slips to that family.
“He didn’t just go down the racetrack, he made it to the winner’s circle today. This goes beyond championships when you can be a part of someone’s family and give a little something back to them.”
Brown and the Matco team were able to move up one spot to third in points and are within 41 of teammate and points leader Leah Pritchett that they beat in the semifinals.
The Mello Yello Series will be off next weekend to honor Memorial Day and returns the following week to begin June’s four-race Eastern Swing on June 2-4 at Epping with races following at Englishtown, N.J., Bristol, Tenn., and Norwalk, Ohio.
The following are official results and standings after the NHRA Heartland Nationals:
Event winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Tony Schumacher (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.660 sec.-career best, 327.90 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tool/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; assistant: Brad Mason
Qualified: No. 3
First round: BROWN (3.691 sec., 332.34 mph) def. Kebin Kinsley (3.790, 322.73)
Second round: BROWN (4.026, 275.90) def. Shawn Langdon (4.736, 179.21)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.715, 330.15) def. Leah Pritchett (3.718, 329.34)
Final: BROWN (3.709, 332.75) def. Steve Torrence (3.836, 256.70)
FRIDAY: 3.748 sec., 326.87 mph, (Session 1); rained out, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.671-track record, 333.16-world record, (Session 3); 3.677, 332.92, (Session 4)
Best time, speed: 3.667 (2017 Phoenix); 333.16 mph-world record (2017 Topeka)
Career at Topeka: Wins 1; Runner-ups 1 (2016); Poles 3 (2012, 2010, 2009)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Official after Topeka; 8th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- LEAH PRITCHETT (3) 721 —–
- Steve Torrence (2) 691 -30
- ANTRON BROWN (2) 680 -41
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 673 -48
- Doug Kalitta 539 -182
- Clay Millican 433 -288
- Brittany Force 405 -316
- Terry McMillen 333 -388
- Troy Coughlin Jr. 327 -394
- Scott Palmer 276 -445