Event 1 of 21
March 10 – 12, 2023
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 12, 2023) – An incredible two-ten thousandths of a second margin of victory sent Antron Brown into the second round of eliminations at the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season-opening NHRA Gatornationals Sunday morning at Gainesville Raceway. Tire smoke in the second round ended the weekend earlier than planned, but Brown is excited about the direction his Matco Tools Top Fuel team is heading as he begins his sophomore season as a team owner.
Brown, who finished the 2022 season ranked No. 2 in the Top Fuel points standings, qualified in the top half of the 16-car field, ending up No. 6 with a 3.734-second best after three sessions in rain-shortened qualifying. His qualifying results also included a 3.753-second pass, the fourth-quickest run during Saturday’s first session.
Along with qualifying in his 330-mph Top Fuel dragster, Brown also took time on Saturday to help Toyota unveil the new Toyota GR Supra Jr. Roadster. Designed in a collaborative effort between TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and Half Scale, the GR Supra Jr. Roadster will soon be available to the sport’s rising young stars in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League.
On Sunday morning, Brown made his best pass of the weekend – a 3.706-second pass at 326.87 – alongside Shawn Langdon’s quicker 3.704-second effort. Fortunately, Brown left the starting line first with a .066 reaction time to Langdon’s .068, putting Brown and the Matco Tools dragster ahead at the 1,000-foot finish line by .0002 seconds – approximately one inch.
“Our whole weekend was really good,” said Brown, the 2013 Gatornationals event champion. “We qualified sixth but we were pushing that third qualifying run and the track didn’t hold, and then today we had a really good first round against Langdon. It was anybody’s race. We shot a spark plug out around halftrack and that’s what really tightened it up. Our car was on a 3.68 run.”
Brown was consistent on the starting line in his second-round match with Doug Kalitta, but he started to lose traction early and had to lift off the throttle, allowing Kalitta to move on. The upside is the tire smoke was caused by some excess power that will be beneficial once it’s reeled in.
“We came back up for round two and tried to slow it down a bit; we were targeting a .70 to a .72,” Brown said. “We came up that last round and for whatever reason we had a lot of power that showed up, so we found that out. We’re going to work on that department. Our blower showed up and it showed out. Our car made some really, really stupid power in that second round, but with that, we’re just going to lick our wounds, and get ready for Phoenix.”
Brown and his AB Motorsports team will have a weekend off before heading West to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, March 24-26.
“We’re going to keep working on our program,” Brown said. “We’re in a really good spot and I’m really looking forward to getting to the Arizona Nationals and starting our weekend with a ‘top four’ qualifying position and take it from there.”
Qualified: No. 6 (3.734 E.T. at 332.84 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 3.706 E.T. at 326.87 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 3.704 E.T. at 333.49 MPH
E2: 7.799 E.T. at 78.90 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.716 E.T. at 334.32 MPH
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Point Standings (Unofficial):