BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 10, 2023) – A hot, tricky race track stopped Antron Brown and his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster in the second round of the rain-delayed NHRA New England Nationals eliminations on Saturday afternoon at Bristol Dragway. Racing during qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Brown smoked the tires in his match with fellow multi-time world champion Steve Torrence.
Brown qualified No. 1 at New England Dragway last weekend before persistent rain pushed Sunday eliminations into Monday, then again to Bristol Dragway this weekend. It was a milestone achievement for the second-year team owner in multiple ways. Brown is now a 50-time No. 1 qualifier, with 39 of those in Top Fuel and 11 in Pro Stock Motorcycle. It was Brown’s first No. 1 qualifier award in nearly six years and the first for his Brownsburg, Ind.-based AB Motorsports operation.
As the No. 1 qualifier, Brown had a first-round bye run when eliminations got underway at Bristol on Friday. Crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald used the opportunity to test the track conditions, and Brown smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle. When eliminations continued on Saturday, Brown’s Matco Tools entry launched hard off of the starting line but eventually lost traction, slowing to a 4.442-second losing effort to Torrence, one of Brown’s Toyota Racing teammates.
“It’s very tricky to race here at Thunder Valley,” said Brown, a three-time Top Fuel world champion. “The track has a lot of characteristics to it and you have to get used to that to navigate down this tricky surface. We’re on the grind and we’re learning and always trying to get better. This Matco Tools/Lucas Oil/Toyota team has some power. We just have to figure out how to navigate down this track that has a lot of variations to it. We’ll be ready for race day on Sunday and ready to put our best foot forward and get after it to win some rounds.”
With Epping eliminations behind him, Brown used the final fourth qualifying session to lay down a good, clean 3.937 E.T. in the heat of the day and will start race day at the Thunder Valley Nationals from the No. 15 seed on the strength of his Q1 3.907-second pass. He’ll take on defending world champion Brittany Force in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations, which will now begin at 10 a.m. to get ahead of rain in the afternoon forecast.
Qualified (Epping): No. 1 (3.729 E.T. at 329.99 MPH)
Epping Elimination Round Results:
E1: 12.919 E.T. at 78.93 MPH defeated Bye
E2: 4.442 E.T. at 197.65 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.897 E.T. at 321.81 MPH
Qualified (Bristol): No. 15 (3.907 E.T. at 292.90 MPH)