Antron Brown raced to the winner’s circle on Sunday afternoon, bringing Brown’s 50th Top Fuel Wally trophy.
Brown opened the day with a win over Shawn Reed to set up a second-round matchup against teammate Tony Schumacher. Both cars smoked the tires early, but Brown recovered quickly to win the pedalfest. In the semifinals, he would face Steve Torrence in an epic matchup. Brown had a 0.020-second advantage at the light, then held off Torrence to win on a holeshot by 0.009 seconds.
In the finals against teammate Leah Pritchett, Brown took the immediate lead and never trailed for his third consecutive Seattle victory. The final margin of victory was 0.0047 seconds (approximately two feet) and enabled Brown to capture the elusive 50th Top Fuel victory he has sought since Brainerd 2017.
“It’s no secret that we struggled at the beginning of the year,” said Brown, who joined Schumacher, Larry Dixon and Joe Amato as the only NHRA drivers to win 50 Top Fuel events. “We lost (crew chief) Brian Corradi, and then we had a lot of our team moving around, so they’ve had to gel in new spots and positions. Our main focus has just been to get better every race and learn this new combination and how to make it work.
“We were good in Sonoma; we were good in Denver, we were good in Virginia. We were just losing close races. We used to be on the opposite side, and today all of the win lights turned on for our team. I couldn’t be more proud of my Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota guys in how persistent they’ve been throughout the year. Now it’s happening at the right time with the Countdown approaching. Our car is showing it. We’re qualifying in the top five, and we just want to keep doing it. ‘Top three’ is our goal, but we’re going for the number one spot. Now we have a shot to move up a spot or two, and that really will help us in the Countdown.”
Qualified: No. 5 (3.761 E.T. at 326.48 MPH)
E1: 3.796 E.T. at 327.03 MPH defeated Shawn Reed 3.887 E.T. at 322.58 MPH
E2: 4.137 E.T. at 301.74 MPH defeated Tony Schumacher 4.718 E.T. at 213.00 MPH
E3: 3.811 E.T. at 323.97 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 3.800 E.T. at 325.85 MPH
E4: 3.835 E.T. at 322.88 MPH defeated Leah Pritchett 3.849 E.T. at 320.13 MPH