Low spot in standings doesn’t lower Brown’s optimism that reigning championship Matco team will be back in race
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 17, 2013) – Antron Brown made a statement a year ago when the NHRA Mello Yello Series visited the Dallas area for the second of six events in the Countdown to the Championship.
Brown rallied to win last year’s event in Texas after losing in the first round the previous week to start the Countdown playoff. That provided momentum for him to win his first NHRA world championship two months later.
And the reigning Top Fuel world champion hopes to make more noise this weekend during the AAA Fallnationals at the Texas Motorplex.
The popular driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing will need the boldest declaration of the year if he is to defend his prestigious championship because he is faced with a much higher mountain to climb.
Last weekend at the opening Countdown event near Charlotte, Brown did not qualify for Sunday’s championship eliminations. That ended the seventh longest qualifying streak among active professional NHRA drivers and stopped his run at 110 consecutive events where he qualified dating to November 2008.
It also was only the third time in his 16-year pro career and 281 NHRA events that he was not racing on eliminations day.
“You never imagine that something like that is going to happen,” said Brown, who dropped from sixth to ninth in the standings and is 124 points behind DSR teammate and points leader Spencer Massey.
“And we never imagined that’s how we’d start the Countdown.”
Only 10 drivers qualified for the Countdown after the 18-event regular season so Brown not only has to make up a 124-point deficit in five races but has to get around eight other drivers to reach the pinnacle.
“Sure, it’s going to be hard but we haven’t given up on getting back to the top; no one on this team ever gives up,” Brown said. “We spent Monday testing at zMAX Dragway (near Charlotte) and we made some great runs.
“Now we have to do that once we get to Dallas.”
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools
Last event (Sept. 13-15, Concord, N.C.): Did not qualify.
Last event at Dallas (Sept. 20-23, 2012): Qualified No. 8; defeated teammate Spencer Massey in championship round.
Career at Dallas: Wins 1 (2012); runner-ups 0; poles 0