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2013 NHRA: Antron Brown New England NHRA Nationals Event Recap: First Round
Posted by: newsla on Jun 24, 2013 - 06:40 AM
2013 NHRA: Antron Brown New England NHRA Nationals Event Recap: First Round

It wasn't a banner weekend for the defending NHRA Top Fuel world champion at the inaugural New England NHRA Nationals, but Antron Brown isn't panicking. The 39-time NHRA winner knows his Matco Tools team will be just fine when it counts.


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After a tricky qualifying outing for the fan-favorite racer, Brown started the day from the No. 10 spot at New England Dragway and was pitted against veteran race Bob Vandergriff, Jr. for third time this season. All three matches have come in the opening round.

The drivers used identical .047 of-a-second reaction times before Brown's bright blue Matco Tools/U.S. Army rail pulled the tires loose near mid-track allowing Vandergriff to cruise to the round win with the third quickest elapsed time of the round at 3.856-seconds.

"We just have to work hard until we figure it out - keep on pressing, pressing, pressing - and get our combination worked out," Brown said following his sixth first round loss in seven races. "That deal right there, look at the field - there was no issue that plagued just us. It plagued 70 percent of the field - 70 percent of the field spun the tires in the same spot.

"That track right there, you just have to be after it early and have it parked in the middle so it can skate through. We thought the track was better to run fast and it wasn't better. It was actually worse in the middle, and that's what got us. It got Tony (Schumacher) that way. It got (Steve) Torrence and (Clay) Millican the same way. It got a whole bunch of people in front of us the same way. It even got (Khalid al-)Balooshi the same way."

While new to his Top Fuel career dating back to the 2008 NHRA season, Brown knows how humbling the world's fastest motor sport can be. The 16-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle winner had nine opening round losses in 2007, his final year in the two wheel category.

"I had a slump like this in bikes and it lasted all year long," Brown said of his '07 NHRA season. "But you've just got to stay working and getting after it. You can't let it get the best of you. It's just a matter of time if we keep on working and working and working. It's like a math problem or equation. The only way you lose is when you give up, and our team is nowhere near giving up on anything."

The Matco team returns to the friendly confines of Route 66 Raceway just South of Chicago next weekend, June 28-30. The track is located about three hours from DSR team headquarters near Indianapolis and Brown is the defending event champion of the Joliet race. It was one of six wins for the Matco Tools flagship driver en route to the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel championship.

The following are Brown's results and other event notes for the New England NHRA Nationals.

Event winner: Spencer Massey (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Racing), 3.795 sec., 323.97 mph

Antron Brown, Matco Tools
Qualifying position: 10
First round: Vandergriff (3.856 secs., 321.27 mph) def. BROWN (4.043 sec., 280.95 mph)

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standings
(Unofficial after 11 of 24 events)
1. Shawn Langdon, 903
5. Doug Kalitta, 644
6. Khalid alBalooshi, 610
7. Morgan Lucas, 567
8. Clay Millican, 525
9. Bob Vandergriff, 502
10. Steve Torrence, 496

Sunday: 7-10 p.m. ET, championship eliminations on ESPN2 (delayed)

NEXT EVENT: 16th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals, June 28-30, Joliet, Ill.

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