2014 NHRA: Antron Brown NHRA SpringNationals Event Recap: Winner
Antron Brown's characteristic smile sparkles just a bit brighter these days. The 2012 NHRA Top Fuel champion carded his category-best third win in six races this season Sunday at the 27th running of the NHRA SpringNationals near Houston.
"It was very draining this weekend here at Houston," Brown said of the humid weather condition near the Gulf coast. "It felt like we were running a marathon out here this weekend. Instead of running like a sprint, it felt like we ran 5,000-kilometers out here. That's what made it so tough on all the teams."
Brown and his Matco Tools team continue to be the class of the field having advanced to seven of the last 10 final rounds dating back to the St. Louis NHRA race last September. Brown left with the Wally trophy in hand at five of those races, including two weeks ago at the Four-Wide Nationals near Charlotte.
After creeping up on the tune-up of the Matco-backed rail this weekend, Brown's Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald-tuned car started from the No. 2 qualifying position. Brown posted his quickest qualifying lap on his final attempt at 3.787-seconds. On race day, the former college track star from New Jersey bested veteran Clay Millican, DSR teammate Spencer Massey, defending series champion Shawn Langdon, and Langdon's teammate Khalid al-Baloohi in the final round.
"We've just been able to execute," Brown said after earning his second career Top Fuel win at the Baytown track (2008). "When we have a problem we're able to fix it from the last round and make it better for the next round. This track was good. We had shade all weekend long, it was breezy. The water grains in the air made our tune-up go haywire where you come up here thinking that you have power because you're at sea level but all the humidity just sucked the life out of the cars and made it hard to make them go. That's what made it difficult for us this weekend, not just us but everybody. We were able to fight through it and to get that win it makes it that much more sweeter because you were able to fight through that adversity to get it done."
With his 44th career win, Brown vaulted into first place in the NHRA Mello Yello Series standings a quarter way through the 2014 season.
"Ever since Brian Corradi, Mark (Oswald), Brad (Mason) and our whole group got together we've been working really hard," Brown said. "We've got all the right tools with Matco behind us, all the right equipment at DSR, and a phenomenal team. With Kyle (Weekly), Chris (Watson) and Matt (Sackman), they're three new guys. We've got a class A, true all-star team. If you wanted to pick your dream team this would be it."
Brown, who scored the 223rd win for DSR, will attempt to win consecutive races at Atlanta Dragway in three weeks, May 16-18. Brown has five career wins at the Commerce, Ga. track, including three in Top Fuel.
Event winner: Antron Brown (DSR)
No. 1 Qualifier: Steve Torrence (Torrence Racing) 3.786 secs., 321.81 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying Position: No. 2
First round: BROWN (.052 3.843 secs., 318.47 mph) def. Millican (.090 3.899, 305.91)
Second round: BROWN (.056 3.778, 322.11) def. Massey (.058 3.839, 318.32)
Semifinals: BROWN (.049 3.801, 321.58) def. Langdon (.032 3.863, 320.66)
Finals: BROWN (.060 3.793, 317.72) def. alBalooshi (.094 4.433, 184.67)
FRIDAY: 3.869 sec., 316.75 mph (Session 1), 3.880, 315.05 (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.830, 320.28 (Session 3), 3.787, 322.04 (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial, after Houston, 6th of 24 events)
(DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins), points
1. ANTRON BROWN (3), 580
2. Doug Kalitta (1), 543
3. Steve Torrence (0), 428
4. Shawn Langdon (0), 408
5. Khalid alBlaooshi (1), 381
6. TONY SCHUMACHER (1), 353
7. SPENCER MASSEY (0), 342
8. Brittany Force (0), 300
9. Richie Crampton (0), 224
10. J.R. Todd (0), 220
May 16-18, Atlanta
May 23-25, Topeka
May 29-June 1, Englishtown, N.J.