COMMERCE, Ga. (May 2, 2021) – Behind the wheel of Matco’s ‘Tools for the Cause’ benefitting the Fisher House Foundation/Toyota Top Fuel dragster, Antron Brown raced to victory, capturing the last NHRA Southern Nationals Top Fuel Wally trophy as the curtain closed on the annual Atlanta Dragway event after an incredible 40-year run.
Brown’s historic triumph on Sunday was his 68th overall and moved him into a two-way tie with Joe Amato on the all-time Top Fuel win list where they rank third with 52 victories. Brown, who has wins in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle at the Commerce, Ga. venue, remains seventh on the all-time driver win list but is now within one win of tying legend Kenny Bernstein’s 69 victories. Among active NHRA drivers, the Pittsboro, Ind. resident ranks third overall and tops the Top Fuel leaderboard.
Brown’s march to victory began from the eighth-seeded position where he drew Doug Kalitta as his round-one opponent. The two Top Fuel titans were the first drivers to hit the track on Sunday morning and kicked off what would become a spectacular day of close-call races among NHRA Camping World Series competitors. Brown and Kalitta were nearly even leaving the starting line with Brown’s machine barreling down the track in 3.793 seconds to narrowly beat his competitor’s 3.800 E.T. In the quarterfinals, Brown faced Billy Torrence. The three-time Top Fuel world champion nabbed the starting line lead and never trailed, taking his win light into the semifinals against Brittany Force. Once again, Brown used his quick reflexes to activate the win light, capturing the holeshot victory to set up a meeting with reigning Top Fuel champion, Steve Torrence, in the final round.
In his 125th championship round, Brown drove the Matco Tools/Toyota/SiriusXM/Global Electronic Technology/Hangsterfer’s machine to its first winner’s circle of the season by speeding through the finish line beams in 3.752 seconds at 325.22-mph to defeat Torrence for the very last piece of Atlanta NHRA hardware.
Brown, who now has seven Southern Nationals trophies in his collection, has advanced to the semifinals or better at each of the first three events of 2021, and the last five overall, including his 2020 season-finale triumph in Las Vegas.
“It feels good. It feels really good,” said Brown who has been on a rebuilding mission, eager to be back in the thick of prime championship contention since reuniting with former crew chief Brian Corradi at the beginning of 2020. “This is what we work for each and every day. All of that hard work over the off-season and all the changes we made, and the testing we’ve done, and we’re just building on that, and we’ve got to keep building. We just kept on nipping at it each round and that’s what I love about my team so much, all of our Matco Tools boys. This is what they work hard for. We’ve got a lot of new players too. We have Matt Sackman who’s been here the longest, along with Brad Mason, Brian Corradi, and Mark Oswald, they’re my homeboys from back in ’09. The rest of the gang is all new to this Matco team. I’m so proud of all these guys and how they all pulled together and meshed so quickly.”
The Matco Tools/Toyota team’s stellar performance propelled Brown up to second in the standings where he sits within two rounds of taking over the point lead.
Qualified: No. 8 (4.331 E.T. at 191.76 MPH)
E1: 3.793 E.T. at 317.19 MPH defeated Doug Kalitta 3.800 E.T. at 322.19 MPH
E2: 3.811 E.T. at 321.42 MPH defeated Billy Torrence 3.820 E.T. at 322.50 MPH
E3: 3.786 E.T. at 320.51 MPH defeated Brittany Force 3.785 E.T. at 323.89 MPH
E4: 3.752 E.T. at 325.22 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 3.794 E.T. at 323.81 MPH