BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 4, 2017) – You don’t receive a trophy or extra prize money for winning the regular season title in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but the payoff is worth much more than bragging rights.
The 18-race segment of the Mello Yello Series ended Monday at the 63rd annual NHRA U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis, a semifinals loss to friendly rival Steve Torrence enabled him to move around Brown to earn a 20-point advantage when points are reset for the six-race Countdown to the Championship that opens in two weeks near Charlotte.
Brown and the Mello Yello/Matco Tools/U.S. Army team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald will finish second in the regular season standings and 48/68 behind Torrence. But the margin will be cut to 20 when the Countdown begins.
His loss to Torrence, who went on to win the U.S. Nationals title, in the second round was one of the closest of the day. Torrence’s time of 3.730 seconds at 327.59 topped Brown’s 3.745 (322.50).
“In that round, we could have beaten anybody, but the guy we raced. The difference between winning and being out in the second round. We have to do a better job of qualifying and set ourselves up for success.
“It was a great race – and the best race of the second round,” Brown said. “We gave it all we got, and our heads aren’t down. We’re working hard and we’re going to get ready for the Countdown. We have six races starting in Charlotte and that’s what we’re focused on right now.
“We had a great weekend here in Indy, we just lost a couple of tough round matchups and just had some things that didn’t go our way. That’s what this sport is all about. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. What we took from this race is that we want to be more aggressive on qualifying. We have to be in the top three like we are capable of.
“The competition has definitely stepped their games up, so we’re going to make some moves and adjustments to be better. That’s what we’re going to do as a team. They showed us what they’re all about, and now it’s time for us to show we can be versatile and give it all we got.”
Event winner: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors)
No. 1 qualifier: Clay Millican (Doug Stringer Racing) 3.663 sec.-track record, 329.10 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Mello Yello/Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; assistant crew chief: Brad Mason
MONDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: BROWN (3.726 sec., 324.44 mph) def. Scott Palmer (3.828, 300.46)
Second round: Steve Torrence (3.730, 327.59) def. BROWN (3.745, 322.50)
Qualified: No. 6
FRIDAY: 3.689 sec., 329.75 mph, (Session 1 of 5)
SATURDAY: 3.808, 312.42*, (Session 2 of 5); 3.694, 329.91, (Session 3 of 5)
SUNDAY: 4.860, 149.05, (Session 4 of 5); 3.744, 326.95, (Session 5 of 5)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 2nd 18 4 6 2 6 0 2 0 44-14
CAREER 376 65* 53 76 99 80 49 3 667-308
* 49 TF/16 PSB
Career best time, speed: 3.667 (2017, Phoenix); 333.16 mph (2017, Topeka)
INDY BY THE NUMBERS
A year ago at Indy: Qualified No. 5, lost in second round to Tony Schumacher
Career at Indy: Wins 3 (2000, 2004-PSM; 2011-TF), Runner-ups 0, Poles 4 (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013)
TOP FUEL STANDINGS
2017 COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(Reset for six-race playoff; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- Steve Torrence (7) 2,100 —-
- ANTRON BROWN (4) 2,080 -20
- LEAH PRITCHETT (4) 2,070 -30
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 2,060 -40
- Doug Kalitta 2,050 -50
- Brittany Force (1) 2,040 -60
- Clay Millican (1) 2,030 -70
- Terry McMillan 2,020 -80
- Scott Palmer 2,010 -90
- Shawn Langdon 2,000 -100
FINAL 2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO REGULAR SEASON
(Official after U.S. Nationals; 18 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- Steve Torrence (6/7) 1,667
- ANTRON BROWN (4) 1,599
- LEAH PRITCHETT (4) 1,563
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 1,220
- Doug Kalitta 1,126
- Brittany Force (1) 1,105
- Clay Millican (1) 1,080
- Terry McMillen 770
- Scott Palmer 698