Qualified: No. 10 (3.878 E.T. at 319.14 MPH)
E1: 3.869 E.T. at 321.96 MPH defeats Mike Salinas 4.321 E.T. at 238.22 MPH
E2: 3.865 E.T. at 321.04 MPH defeats Bill Litton 4.709 E.T. at 172.19 MPH
E3: Foul (red light) defeated by Steve Torrence 3.875 E.T. at 320.36 MPH
Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team raced to a semifinal finish on Sunday at the Virginia NHRA Nationals. By advancing to the third round, Brown was able to amass 74 points over the course of the race weekend and move up two spots in the Top Fuel points standings.
Brown, who finished as the Richmond runner-up in 2009, the last national NHRA event at Virginia Motorsports Park, began his quest for his first title of 2018 with a round-one matchup against Mike Salinas. Brown piloted his Matco Tools machine down the stretch in 3.869-seconds, easily defeating Salinas’ tire-smoking 4.321 E.T.
In the quarterfinals, it was Bill Litton who attempted to thwart Brown’s campaign for the Virginia hardware. Brown left the line first and never trailed, powering to his best pass of the weekend (3.865) and earning the round win.
The semifinal round found Brown staging next to friend Steve Torrence. Unfortunately for Brown, Torrence would get the immediate win when the three-time world champion suffered a rare miscue and stood on the gas early, activating the red light and fouling out.
“This race definitely was our breakout race. We didn’t qualify where we wanted to, but we made great strides each and every round and our car went down the track every lap except for one. With that being said, we made some changes and we had enough shots at it today where, in that semifinal right there, with the help of Mark (Oswald), Brad (Mason, co crew chiefs) and Mike Green and all the Matco Tools/U.S. Army boys, we went after it and we stepped up. The car would’ve done a 3.84 that run no problem. I shut it off because I knew I went red and I didn’t want to tear up any parts. But we got enough data to look at and know we’re definitely on the right track. That was a great run in those hot conditions, and we could compete with anybody with a run like that.
“We’re going to wrap it up and go to Bristol, and I’m going to get myself right; back in tune. I just want to win bad. I pushed it, I went out there to annihilate the tree, and the tree got the best of me and I just let these boys down. They’ve been working their tails off and I just wanted to get through that round so we can get to the final and get this race win here coming back to this fantastic facility. Virginia Motorsports Park, the Franklin family, did a great job all weekend long. I just want to get back to that winner’s circle. I just wanted it too bad and that’s when it bites you, when you try too hard. But, we will be back in Bristol and the switch is on right now.”