LAS VEGAS (Oct. 29, 2017) – Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway wasn’t the best time for Antron Brown and Don Schumacher Racings’ championship Matco Tools Top Fuel team to do something they haven’t for more than a year.


When Brown lost in the first-round of the NHRA Nationals in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, it was the first time the Matco lost in an opening round this year and first time since September 2016 at St. Louis.


The early exit dropped Brown 30 more points behind leader Steve Torrence that puts him 135 out of first place when the series resumes in two weeks at Pomona, Calif., for the season-finale. Brown faces a steep climb to win his third straight world championship and fourth since 2012.


A win in the first round would have paired him against Torrence in the next round, Fortunately for the Matco team Torrence lost in the round or his lead over Brown could have been unsurmountable.


“It was a heart-breaking day,” said Brown. “It didn’t go the way we wanted. Our plan actually came to fruition in qualifying, but we had to win that first round to take advantage of it. My golly, it was wide open. Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield.”


At 22 of the first 23 events of the season like at Las Vegas, the most a driver can earn at one event is 130 points but NHRA enhanced points values for Pomona by 150 percent so a driver can earn 191.


“Overall, it’s been a great year for our team. Our main focus now is just to go to Pomona and finish it out strong to try to make it into the top three in points,” he said over moving up one spot. “We will just go out there and race as hard as we can and see what we can do.


TOP FUEL                                                                                                                                        
Winner: Terry McMillen (Terry McMillen Racing)

No. 1 Qualifier: Tony Schumacher (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.673 sec., 332.67 mph – track records


ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason


First round: Shawn Langdon (3.739 sec., 319.07 mph) def. BROWN (3.742, 325.92)


Qualifying position: No. 10

FRIDAY: 3.760 sec., 325.61 mph, (Session 1); 16.130, 34.67, (Session 2)

SATURDAY: 3.810, 314.39, (Session 3); 8.729, 75.49, (Session 4)


COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS                                       


TOP FUEL                                                                                                                        

  1. Steve Torrence (8)               2527     —–
  2. Brittany Force (4)                 2507       -20
  3. Doug Kalitta (1)                    2443       -84
  4. ANTRON BROWN (4) 2392     -135
  5. LEAH PRITCHETT (4)         2361     -166
  6. TONY SCHUMACHER (1)   2340     -187
  7.   x-7. Clay Millican (1)                    2326     -201
  8.   x-8. Shawn Langdon                    2267     -260
  9.   x-9. Terry McMillen (1)                 2261     -266
  10. x-10. Scott Palmer                         2169     -358


x=eliminated from championship contention