MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 2, 2022) – Antron Brown’s pursuit of a second consecutive event win ended in a first-round pedalfest on Sunday during the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis. Despite the early exit, Brown and the Matco Tools Top Fuel team remain solidly in championship contention. While Brown and the AB Motorsports squad have fallen to fifth on the Top Fuel leaderboard from their previously held second place ranking, the competition is tightly packed, and only 29 points – or less than two round wins – separate the No. 2 through No. 5 ranked drivers.
Before qualifying started on Friday, Brown debuted a new bright pink Matco “Tools for the Cause” livery, which he will continue to run throughout October in conjunction with Matco Tools’ fundraising partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The Top Fuel field was one of the quickest of the season, with Brown’s best E.T. of 3.707 seconds at 331.85-mph ranking No. 9 after three qualifying sessions. That set up a first-round meeting with No. 8 qualifier Clay Millican, who posted a 3.703 in qualifying.
The two drivers were evenly matched again as they left the starting line in the first round of eliminations. Brown took an early lead as Millican was up in smoke at the hit, then Brown ran into traction issues of his own, and his engine went silent. Unable to get back on the throttle, he had to watch Millican pedal around him for the win.
“We had a safety system malfunction where I couldn’t pedal the car to try and regain traction,” said Brown, the winningest nitro-class driver at World Wide Technology Raceway with five St. Louis triumphs. “I was just sitting there rolling for a long, long time, and then Clay saw me just sitting there. He was able to collect his machine back together and drive around us. That just hurts right there because even though we were a little bit aggressive, we had it, and we just let it go.”
Brown rolled into St. Louis with momentum after racing to victory at three of the last five events (Topeka, Kan., Indianapolis, Charlotte). He started the Countdown to the Championship ranked sixth, and had made major advances in the standings after powering to a semifinal finish in Reading, Pa. and the event win in Charlotte last weekend. He entered the Midwest Nationals second in points, and after watching points leader and technical alliance teammate Justin Ashley bow out just one pair ahead of him, Brown knew he had a crucial opportunity to make a big move towards a fourth world championship. While he was unable to capitalize on the break on Sunday, the new team owner realizes there will be more opportunities to make up ground.
“This was certainly not the weekend we were looking for here at St. Louis,” Brown said. “We qualified ninth and would have liked to have been in the top half because that set us up for a tough match-up and a tough result on race day, but there are three Countdown races left. We have a week off to regroup, and we’ll go back to Indy, and work hard and get ready for Dallas. It’s time to recharge and get ready to chase a cowboy hat.”
Brown will be back in his Matco “Tools for a Cause” Top Fuel dragster Oct. 14-16 at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Tx.
Qualified: No. 9 (3.707 E.T. at 331.85 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 6.514 E.T. at 89.45 MPH defeated by Clay Millican 5.829 E.T. at 200.32 MPH
NHRA Camping World Series Top Fuel Point Standings (unofficial):