LAS VEGAS (Oct. 30, 2022) – Three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown left The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a little earlier than planned after a second-round loss Sunday at the NHRA Nevada Nationals. Still, the first-year team owner remains hopeful in his fight for the 2022 NHRA Camping World Series world championship. He sits 78 points behind leader Brittany Force going into the final race of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
The AB Motorsports owner and driver, who’s raced to victory at three of the last seven races (Topeka, Kan., Indianapolis, Charlotte), entered the Nevada Nationals third in points. He was 84 points behind former point leader Justin Ashley and two points behind Brittany Force in second.
Brown, co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, and the Matco Tools team made three solid passes in qualifying, the best of which was a 3.710-second pass at 330.47-mph in the fourth session to qualify ninth.
On race day, Brown paired up with longtime “tool wars” rival Doug Kalitta to kick off Top Fuel eliminations. Kalitta took a slight starting line advantage, but Brown quickly drove around him and finished first with a 3.709 E.T. at 330.23-mph to Kalitta’s 3.751. Later in the round, Ashley lost his match with Clay Millican, opening the door for Brown and fellow championship challengers Force and Mike Salinas.
“We had a solid opening round lap with that 3.70 against Dougie (Kalitta) in the tool wars,” said Brown, who was sporting the bright pink Matco ‘Tools for the Cause’ livery one last time to close out Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “That’s always important to us and our Matco family.”
A monumental matchup followed in the second round, as Brown lined up against Force to race for the No. 2 spot in points along with a berth in the semifinals. Brown left the starting line first, but the Matco ‘Tools for the Cause’ dragster started to haze the tires and coasted to a 4.156 E.T. while Force moved on to the semis with her 3.732-second effort.
“Round two was tough,” said Brown, who was undefeated in all prior matchups with Force this season, including the final round of the prestigious U.S. Nationals. “Brittany was a juggernaut all weekend in qualifying and we were just a tad too aggressive. Our Matco dragster was trucking early, but the track just wouldn’t hold it. It’s tough.”
With points-and-a-half up for grabs at the season finale, Brown and the Matco Tools Top Fuel team will head West to Pomona for an all-out battle for the championship.
“We’ve still got a shot going into Pomona in two weeks and that’s all you can ask for,” Brown said. “We’re going to test here tomorrow and dial our tune-up in for the Pomona Finals.”
Brown ended the day fourth in points behind Force (-78), Ashley (-71), and Salinas (-12). He will wrap up his first season as a team owner at the NHRA Finals, Nov. 11-13, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Qualified: No. 9 (3.710 E.T. at 330.47 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 3.709 E.T. at 330.23 MPH defeated Doug Kalitta 3.751 E.T. at 328.38 MPH
E2: 4.156 E.T. at 211.06 MPH defeated by Brittany Force 3.732 E.T. at 327.98 MPH
NHRA Camping World Series Top Fuel Point Standings (unofficial):