POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2023) – Antron Brown’s bid for one last Wally of the 2023 season came to an end in the second round of Sunday eliminations at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip. A puff of tire smoke signaled the end of Brown’s day, but the energetic second-year team owner is nevertheless proud of his Matco Tools team’s accomplishments throughout the 21-race NHRA Camping World Series season.

Brown was hot and cold in qualifying. In Friday’s second session, the three-time Finals winner recorded a 3.689-second pass to take the provisional No. 7 spot. He coasted across the finish line in the third session on Saturday, then bounced back with the second-quickest pass of the final session, a 3.663 E.T., to qualify third for Sunday eliminations.

With Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald on the tune-up, Brown stayed in the 3.60-second zone in the first round of eliminations against Clay Millican. It was a side-by-side race, but Brown reached the finish line first with his 3.697-second pass at 333.74 MPH. That performance also stood as the quickest E.T. of the round. The AB Motorsports team was even more aggressive in the second round against championship contender Leah Pruett. It was a little too aggressive, as Brown and Pruett both went into tire smoke, though Pruett’s traction issues were further down track and she was able to hang on for the win.

“All in all, we went out on the aggressive side in round two, but we’d rather be too aggressive than not enough,” Brown said. “We wanted to win that round obviously, we wanted to win the last race, but we just pressed a little too hard. But the thing about it is, we’re learning and growing all at the same time. Qualifying No. 3, running second-quickest of the last qualifying session, and dropping low E.T. first round was great. The sun on the track in round two really got us for a curveball there. It got 20 degrees hotter on the racetrack. We backed it down, but obviously, we didn’t back it down enough.”

The 2023 season might not have ended with a winner’s circle celebration, but Brown was quick to point out the big-picture victories of the year. The former Pro Stock Motorcycle star earned his 50th career No. 1 qualifier award, won his 800th competition round, entered his 500th event, and won three times in five final-round appearances to bring his total win count up to 74 national event victories. He finished the season sixth in points, marking the 26th consecutive top 10 finish of Brown’s career.

“Going into next year, we know we have a really good running hot rod,” Brown said. “We’re going to work on our stuff and come back out swinging hard in 2024.”

Brown and his AB Motorsports teammates will get together again on Monday to celebrate their 2023 season accomplishments at the NHRA Awards Banquet at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Pechanga, Calif.

Qualified: No. 3 (3.663 E.T. at 335.82 MPH)

Elimination Round Results:
E1: 3.697 E.T. at 333.74 MPH defeated Clay Millican 3.735 E.T. at 326.32 MPH
E2: 5.134 E.T. at 155.06 MPH defeated by Leah Pruett 4.138 E.T. at 263.15 MPH

NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Final Point Standings (Unofficial):

1 Doug Kalitta 2649
2 Steve Torrence 2601
3 Leah Pruett 2592
4 Justin Ashley 2513
5 Mike Salinas 2465
6 Antron Brown 2423
7 Brittany Force 2352
8 Austin Prock 2349
9 Tony Schumacher 2297
10 Josh Hart 2280