2013 NHRA: Antron Brown NHRA Carolina Nationals Event Preview
After the third event of the NHRA Mello Yello Series, Antron Brown was first in points after winning the Top Fuel title at Gainesville, Fla. Four races later, the reigning Top Fuel world champion won at Atlanta and was second in points.
The native of New Jersey and resident of Pittsboro, Ind., hopes a return to southern cookin' helps kick-start his Toyota dragster tuned by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald this weekend at the Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte.
The team, which won six titles last season, has been mired in a run that has led to first-round exits in 10 of 18 regular-season events including at the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day after a daring run the night before earned the team its second No. 1 qualifying position of the season.
"We were really disappointed after how we qualified," Brown said of his team's 3.811-second qualifying run. "After running that 3.81 we just built off that and were going up there hoping to run a 3.77. The track just ate us up a little bit."
But Brown's second pole of the season was enough to let him know his Toyota dragster was ready for the six-event Countdown in which he is seeded No. 6 among the 10 qualified drivers.
"Now it's time for the Countdown. This is where it all counts for the championship, and we're sitting right in the middle of the field. We have our work cut out for us, but there isn't anything that we can't handle. We're going to head in there with our heads up and bring our 'A' game.
"We have to head into the Countdown with the attitude that we have nothing to lose, and we don't. We're going to go out there and give it all we've got and have fun. We're looking forward to getting to Charlotte."
The No. 1 qualifying spot at Indy was the Toyota team's first since starting on the pole at the fourth race of the season and marked its only top-five start since a No. 2 position near Atlanta at the season's seventh race of the year.
"We're definitely heading in the right direction," said Brown, who won the fall race at zMAX in 2011 and was runner-up in 2008.
"We're not going backward, we're going forward. It's a good thing. We're right there where we need to be. We know what it takes to go out there to do what we need to do. We just have to go there, qualify well again and take it another step up."
ANTRON BROWN, TOYOTA TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
Last event (Sept. 2, Indianapolis): Qualified No. 1; lost in first round to Morgan Lucas.
Last race at zMAX Dragway (April 21, 2013, Four-Wide): Qualified No. 7; lost in first round.
Last September at zMAX: Qualified No. 10; lost in first round to Khalid alBalooshi.
Career at zMAX: Wins 1 (Fall-2011); runner-ups 1 (2008); poles 0
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 6th 18 2 1 4 1 10 2 0 20-16
CAREER 279 39* 37 58 80 64 34 2 463-239
*23 Top Fuel/16 Pro Stock Motorcycle
Best Time, Speed: 3.701 sec.*/** (10- 8-12, Reading, Pa.), 328.78 mph (10-8-12, Reading); Quickest ever, NHRA record
Friday: 5:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1 p.m., 3:15 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: Noon, championship eliminations
ON ESPN2 (times are ET)
Saturday: TBD, qualifying, delayed
Sunday: 8:30 p.m., championship eliminations, delayed
Friday: High 85 degrees; 20 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 77 degrees; 10 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 79 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Sept. 13-15 - zMAX Dragway, Charlotte, N.C.
Sept. 19-22 - Texas Motorplex, Dallas
Sept. 27-29 - Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
Oct. 3-6 - Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
Oct. 24-27 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
Nov. 7-10 - Auto Club Raceway, Pomona, Calif.
(Reset for start of six-event playoff that starts Sept. 13 near Charlotte; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Shawn Langdon, 2,110
2. SPENCER MASSEY, 2,080
3. TONY SCHUMACHER, 2,070
4. Doug Kalitta, 2,060
5. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,050
6. ANTRON BROWN, 2,040
7. Clay Millican, 2,030
8. Morgan Lucas, 2,020
9. Steve Torrence, 2,010
10. Bob Vandergriff, 2,000
NHRA MELLO YELLO SERIES REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS
(Final regular season after 18 events through U.S. Nationals; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Shawn Langdon, 1,488
2. SPENCER MASSEY, 1,273
3. TONY SCHUMACHER, 1,238
4. Doug Kalitta, 1,086
5. Khalid alBalooshi, 1,074
6. ANTRON BROWN, 1,035
7. Clay Millican, 979
8. Morgan Lucas, 968
9. Steve Torrence, 893
10. Bob Vandergriff, 821
2013 TOP FUEL WINNERS: Langdon, SCHUMACHER, BROWN, SCHUMACHER, MASSEY, Vandergriff, BROWN, Langdon, Langdon, Steve Torrence, MASSEY, SCHUMACHER, alBalooshi, MASSEY, Langdon, Lucas, MASSEY, Langdon.