2014 NHRA: Antron Knocks Off Leader Near Denver To Narrow Gap Heading To Sonoma Stop This Weekend On Mello Yello 'Western Swing'
Antron Brown won the most important race he and his Matco Tools Top Fuel team faced on Sunday in the mile-high altitude of Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
He was paired with points-leader Doug Kalitta in the opening round and Antron's quicker reaction time at the starting line enabled his Don Schumacher Racing dragster to overcome Kalitta's quicker elapsed time.
The hole-shot win by Antron, the 15th such win in his Top Fuel career, allowed the Matco team to get within 25 points of Kalitta but a loss in the second round prevented them from cutting deeper into Kalitta's lead. Each round-win in eliminations is worth 20 points so Brown could have taken the points lead had he advanced to the championship round.
"Gaining those 20 points was big," said Antron, who last led the points chase after the sixth event of the year near Houston. "Yeah, it would have been nice to get the lead back but Mark and Brian have a plan and we're on course to get there."
Four Mello Yello events remain before NHRA resets the points for the top-10 in the six-race Countdown for the Championship playoff.
That's the big picture, but Antron and the Matco Tools team focus only on the next race down the track. And that will be Friday when qualifying begins for the Sonoma NHRA Nationals north of San Francisco and they go for their category-best sixth title of the season in 15 events.
"We ran strong on the mountain (at Bandimere) and that's the toughest race of the year for our boys," he said. "It's the only time all year we race in mile-high altitude; that was tough our Matco dragster and our guys. It was hot too."
The Mello Yello series returns to sea level this weekend at Sonoma, which is the second stop of three races in three weeks on the "Western Swing," which Antron swept in 2009 with wins at Denver, Sonoma and the finale near Seattle.
Antron has won three titles at Sonoma in five championship round appearances.
Antron Brown, Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster
Last event Denver (July 20): Qualified No. 6; lost in quarterfinals to Larry Dixon
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 7; lost in semifinals to Shawn Langdon
Career at Sonoma: Wins 3 (2012, 2011, 2009); Runner-ups 2 (PSM-2006, 2004); Poles 1 (2008)
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 2nd 14 5 1 3 2 3 0 0 30-9
CAREER 300 46 39 61 84 67 36 3 506-251
Best Time, Speed: 3.701*/** sec. (10- 8-12, Reading, Pa.); 328.78 mph (10-8-12, Reading)
* Quickest ever/** NHRA record
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Official after 14 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) pts behind
1. Doug Kalitta (1) 1,162 ----
2. ANTRON BROWN (5) 1,137 -25
3. Shawn Langdon (1) 973 -189
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 830 -332
5. Steve Torrence 814 -348
6. SPENCER MASSEY (2) 811 -351
7. Brittany Force 783 -379
8. J.R. Todd (1) 705 -457
9. Khalid alBalooshi (1) 685 -477
10. Richie Crampton (1) 678 -484
Also in NHRA:
- 2014 NHRA: Jack Beckman NHRA Sonoma Nationals Event Preview (07/23/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Team JEGS Pre-Race Notes: NHRA Sonoma Nationals (07/23/14)
- 2014 NHRA: NAPA's Capps Enjoying Family Time Before Racing Begins Near Sonoma (07/23/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Spencer Massey NHRA Sonoma Nationals Event Preview (07/23/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Sonoma Nationals Event Preview (07/23/14)
- From A Mile High To Sea Level, Reigning Champ Coughlin Readies For Sonoma (07/23/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Meghan, Kelly Coughlin Lead Family's Race Weekend At National Trail (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Funny Car Driver Robert Hight Has Big Western Swing Goals Heading To NHRA Sonoma Nationals (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: 60th Annual Chevrolet Performance US Nationals Most Iconic Moments: Muldowney Triumphant In 1982 Top Fuel Final (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Sonoma, Calif., NHRA Preview (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: After Tough Denver Outing, Nobile Already Thinking Ahead (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Top Fuel Standout Shawn Langdon Back On Championship Chase (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Brenda Grubbs Leads Goodyearâ€™s 5 Winners At Bandimere (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Robert Hight's Win Caps Dominant Weekend For JFR (07/22/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Capps And Napa Dodge Charger R/T Advance To Semis In Funny Car, Brown With Second Round Finish At Mopar Mile-High Nationals (07/21/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Johnson Wins Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals (07/21/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Todd, Hight, A Johnson, And Hines Earn Victories At The Mopar Mile-High Nationals At Bandimere Speedway (07/21/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Lucas Oil's Arana Sr. Stays Hot, Reaches Denver Seminals (07/21/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Coughlin Pleased With JEGS.com/Mopar Team After Denver Final (07/21/14)
- 2014 NHRA: Jack Beckman Mopar Mile-High Nationals Event Recap: Second Round (07/21/14)