Brown, Matco team best Pritchett, Papa John’s for Mile-High title to move into second place and open annual three-race Western Swing
MORRISON, Colo. (July 23, 2017) – Don Schumacher Racing and Antron Brown didn’t have their best qualifying efforts in the NHRA Mile-High Nationals, but the course changed once championship eliminations began Sunday at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
Three-time and reigning Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald defeated DSR teammate Leah Pritchett and the Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar team in the final round for their third NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title of the year.
The win enabled Brown to move around Pritchett to second in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings.
It is the second win for Brown in the past seven events where he has advanced to five championship rounds. He trails points leader Steve Torrence of CAPCO Contractors by 54 points with Pritchett 70 out of first as the series heads to Sonoma, Calif., next week for the second of three events in three weeks on the annual Western Swing.
“It was a great day,” said Brown, who qualified seventh for the second straight race. “We started off with our heads down and, Lord knows, we worked so hard. We just keep working hard at it. You only lose once you quit. A winner never quits. And that’s the motto we went by this weekend.”
It is the third win of the year for Brown and the 64th of his career (48 in Top Fuel) along with being the 19th this year for DSR, which has won 312 NHRA event titles. It’s also his third at Bandimere after previously winning in 2009 and 2012.
It puts Brown in the coveted position of trying to sweep the Swing, matching what he did in 2009 as the last one to accomplish that.
“The coolest part is we went through some tough, tough, tough competition. Scott Palmer could have taken out a lot of people in the first round, but we got around him and then Doug Kalitta, the quiet assassin. We had an incredible opponent (Brittany Force) in the semis.”
That last time he faced Pritchett in a final round was at Atlanta in 2015 and he beat her then when she was breaking into Top Fuel with an independent team.
“It was a slugfest,” he said of Pritchett, who was the top-seed for eliminations after winning the pole with a track record 3.733 second pass Saturday night.
“It just felt good to go out there and run 3.79s all day long and that’s what it took to get it done. This definitely builds morale and all we do is just build off this momentum. Sonoma is another good racetrack we love to be at but this, right here, was the toughest by far and it just gets us closer to that end result we’re trying for.
“These don’t come often, so we’re going to enjoy it.”
DSR TOP FUEL DRAGSTERS
Event winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Leah Pritchett (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.733 sec.-track record, 326.74 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: BROWN (3.837 sec., 321.27 mph) def. Scott Palmer (3.861.318.02)
Second round: BROWN (3.796, 315.34) def. Doug Kalitta (3.814, 324.75)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.797, 317.12) def. Brittney Force (4.459, 163.10)
Final: BROWN (3.792, 319.82) def. Leah Pritchett (3.816, 324.90)
Qualified: No. 7
FRIDAY: 3.941 sec., 308.50 mph, (Session 1); 6.668, 106.06, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.793, 317.72, (Session 3); 3.813, 317.79, (Session 4)
DENVER BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (July 9), Joliet, Ill.: Qualified No. 7, lost in championship round to Steve Torrence
A year ago at Denver: Qualified No. 2, lost in championship round to Tony Schumacher
Career at Denver: Wins 3 (2009, 2012, 2017); Runner-ups 5 (1999*, 2001*, 2005*, 2008, 2016);
Poles 3 (2001*, 2009, 2010) * Pro Stock Motorcycle
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official after Denver; 14th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- Steve Torrence (5) 1,253 —–
- ANTRON BROWN (3) 1,199 -54
- LEAH PRITCHETT (3) 1,183 -70
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 974 -279
- Doug Kalitta 873 -380
- Brittany Force (1) 871 -382
- Clay Millican (1) 826 – 427
- Terry McMillen 541 -712
- Scott Palmer 528 -725
- Troy Coughlin Jr. 496 -757