Qualified: No. 11 (3.839 E.T. at 320.97 MPH)
E1: 3.872 E.T. at 312.42 MPH defeated Leah Pritchett 5.388 E.T. at 139.06 MPH
E2: 4.446 E.T. at 231.00 MPH defeated Brittany Force 4.659 E.T. at 234.53 MPH
E3: 4.846 E.T. at 160.44 MPH defeated Mike Salinas 11.990 E.T. at 33.39 MPH
E4: 3.899 E.T. at 309.49 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.881 E.T. at 319.82 MPH
Despite qualifying only 11th, Antron Brown showed signs on Saturday that he would be a top contender on Sunday after placing second and fourth in the final two qualifying runs. That held true throughout race day as he powered to his 123rd career final round and second in 2019.
Brown’s first competitor en route to the finals was teammate Leah Pritchett. The three-time world champion unleashed an impressive 3.872-second pass to upset his higher qualified stablemate in Sunday’s opening match-up. In the second round, Brown had a substantial advantage on the tree and went on to defeat Brittany Force by more than a quarter of a second, earning a bid to his third semifinal of the season.
As temperatures soared into the 90s with track temps hitting 140 degrees, Brown was on a good semifinal pass until the car threw the blower belt off, but he held on for the win as Mike Salinas overpowered the track early. That triumph set up a final round match-up with reigning Top Fuel world champion and current point leader Steve Torrence.
Brown and Torrence left together, but Brown pulled out a sizable advantage early and took a three-hundredths of a second lead to the 330-foot mark shortly before suffering a dropped cylinder. Despite the loss in power, he maintained the lead until around the 800-foot mark when Torrence eventually chased him down for the win.
“The whole race day was good. We had some lucky rounds that we had deposited after having a number of rounds where we should have won that went against us. We were really gaining ground on a hot, hot track. In the final, the car was running well, but then we dropped a hole out there, and I didn’t do my job on the starting line. I was really crisp all day long. I had an .064, an .055 and an .067 in the first three rounds. And if I had just done the same job, that would have brought this win home. We were three-hundredths out in front of him. We out 60-footed him, we out 330’d him and it dropped a hole just before then. We were still two-hundredths quicker than him at half-track with no mile-an-hour, so we were still out in front because we both basically cut the same light. We’re usually two of the quickest-leavers in the class and that tree caught both of us off-guard. I’m just kicking myself in the butt. You want something so bad and then you go and shoot yourself in the foot. We’ll just get back after them, but I really thought this was going to be our time to get the win. We had it right where we wanted and it just is what it is.
“It’s going to be hard, but once we break through and get that first win, I think we’re going to be just fine. We’re definitely going in the right direction. We have an incredible crew with Mark Oswald, Mike Neff, Brad Mason and all of our Matco Tools Toyota Racing boys. We work so hard and I just wanted to give them their due. We’ve been up and down and now we’re finally settling on something. We had the quickest 60-foots all day long. The car is definitely working better. We just have a couple of more tweaks we need to make and I think we’re going to be right where we needed to be. It was a good day for points today, but at the end of the day we just want to get some race wins and it’s coming.”