2013 NHRA: Antron Brown Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Event Preview
When Antron Brown arrives at Las Vegas this week for the NHRA Toyota Nationals, he will face a vastly different scenario then he did toward the end of the last season.
A year ago, Brown arrived at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ranked first in the Top Fuel standings with a 104-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey. Although Brown lost in the first round last fall, he was able to hold onto the points lead and left the final race of the season two weeks later as the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion.
But when racing begins Friday afternoon at Las Vegas, Brown will be ranked fifth in points and a nearly insurmountable 129 points behind leader Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing.
Brown and his Matco Tools "Tools for the Cause" team, however, will not rule out a chance to defend their championship until it is mathematically impossible to do so.
"We're going to keep giving it our all. That's all we can do," said Brown, who has won three titles this season. "We'll keep taking it one round at a time. We're still in the fight for the championship and we just have to focus on getting those win lights."
The team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald have recovered from a summer slump and won the NHRA Mello Yello Series title four weeks ago near St. Louis and advanced to the championship round at the following race on Oct. 6 at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa. But unfortunately for Brown, he lost to Langdon in the final round at Maple Grove and lost ground in his championship pursuit.
The Matco Tools team is the only one of seven teams at DSR that has won a title through the first four of six events in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff.
"In the last two races we won seven out of eight rounds," Brown said. "We want to finish the year out strong just like that. If we do that in the next two races it puts us right there contending for the championship at the end. We just have to keep on pushing."
The season ends Nov. 7-10 at Pomona, Calif.
TOOLS FOR THE CAUSE
For the second consecutive year, Brown along with his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster and crew are sporting pink in October to support the Matco Tools "Tools for the Cause" campaign to benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure's effort to fight breast cancer.
Brown started October's "month of breast cancer awareness" by racing in pink at Maple Grove Raceway and will carry the color to Las Vegas.
Matco will sell Brown's pink firesuit and helmet along with the team's pink crew shirts on eBay with all proceeds going to Matco's "Tools for the Cause" campaign. Special pink tools and pink rolling toolboxes are being sold through Matco mobile retailers and 15 percent of the sales will go to Komen.
Last year, Matco raised more than $250,000 for Komen.
Visit MatcoTools.com/toolsforcause for information.
Brown will be busy Thursday evening when he joins other NHRA drivers for a Fanfest event at the Fremont Street Experience before joining his six DSR teammates at a traditional autograph session from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the lobby of New York-New York Hotel & Casino on The Strip near the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools' "Tools for the Cause"
Last event (Oct. 4-6, Reading, Pa.): Qualified No. 5; lost in championship round to Shawn Langdon.
Last race at Las Vegas (April 5-7, 2013): Qualified No. 1; lost in championship round to teammate Tony Schumacher.
Last October at Las Vegas: Qualified No. 13; lost in first round to Khalid alBalooshi.
October totals at Las Vegas: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2001-Pro Stock Motorcycles); Poles 0
April totals at Las Vegas: Wins 1 (2011); Runner-ups 2 (2012, 2008); Poles 2 (2013, 2010)
Career totals for Las Vegas: Wins 1; Runner-ups 3; Poles 2
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 5th 22 3 2 4 2 10 2 1 28-18
Career 284 40* 38 58 81 64 34 3 471-241
24 Top Fuel/16 Pro Stock Motorcycle
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(DSR drivers in CAPS)
Driver, points (wins), points behind
1. Shawn Langdon, 2,441 (6), --
2. Doug Kalitta, 2,358 (1), -83
3. SPENCER MASSEY, 2,355 (4), -86
4. Morgan Lucas, 2,316 (2), -125
5. ANTRON BROWN, 2,312 (3), -129
6. TONY SCHUMACHER, 2,302 (3), -139
7. Clay Millican, 2,232 (0), -209
8. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,223 (1), -218
9. Bob Vandergriff, 2,187 (1), -254
10. Steve Torrence, 2,125 (1), -316
2013 REGULAR SEASON WINNERS: Langdon, SCHUMACHER, BROWN, SCHUMACHER, MASSEY, Vandergriff, BROWN, Langdon, Langdon, Steve Torrence, MASSEY, SCHUMACHER, alBalooshi, MASSEY, Langdon, Lucas, MASSEY, Langdon.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Lucas (Charlotte), Doug Kalitta (Dallas), BROWN (St. Louis), Langdon (Reading).
Countdown to the Championship schedule/results
Sept. 13-15 zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.
(Finals: TF - Lucas def. MASSEY; FC - Hight def. HAGAN)
Sept. 19-22 Texas Motorplex, Dallas
(Finals: TF - Kalitta def. Langdon; FC- C. Pedregon def. J. Force)
Sept. 27-29 Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
(Finals: TF - BROWN def. alBalooshi; FC - J. Force def. BECKMAN)
Oct. 3-6 Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
(Finals: TF - Langdon def. BROWN; FC - J. Force def. Chad Head)
Oct. 24-27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
Nov. 7-10 Auto Club Raceway, Pomona, Calif.
NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS SCHEDULE (times are PDT)
Thursday: 6-8 p.m., DSR autograph session New York-New York lobby
Friday: 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
ON ESPN2 (times are ET)
Saturday: qualifying, TBD
Sunday: eliminations, 8 p.m. Sunday (delayed)
Friday, Oct. 25: High 82 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday, Oct. 26: High 80 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday, Oct. 27: High 79 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain