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Brown Itching To Get Back Into The Show

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 20 2013

Antron Brown says there will not be another DNQ this weekend in Texas. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

(Editor’s note: Friday’s qualifying sessions were washed out by rain.)

DALLAS – When his Top Fuel dragster is pumping-out a 1,000-foot pass on all cylinders, reigning NHRA world champion Antron Brown says he is an accident waiting to happen.

Strange words from a guy who failed to qualify for Round 1 of the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs last weekend at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. Brown insisted during a media stop in downtown Big D on Thursday that blip will not be repeated this weekend during the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis.

Brown and co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald spent Monday testing the car that failed to make the zMAX field by six-thousandths of a second. Brown exited the session with his confidence –and more importantly, the feel for his 8,000-horsepower hot rod – fully restored.

“It’s like slow motion, slow motion,” said Brown, referring to the cockpit of his Matco Tools dragster at full-bore. “When you leave the starting line, it’s almost like you’re in a controlled accident. Know what I mean? When you’re in a bad (car) accident and you hear the horns and everything – boom-boom-boom – it happens so fast. But when you’re in the middle of it, it’s feels like it’s happening in slow motion. That’s what it feels like. It feels like you’re in a controlled accident. And then when you hit the parachute, everything comes back to normal speed.”

Brown’s untimely DNQ ended a streak that had seen him qualify for 110 consecutive national events dating to November 2008. A two-time winner this season who was seeded sixth as the playoffs began,

Antron Brown was crowned 2012 Top Fuel champion by NHRA president Tom Compton last year in Pomona. This year, Brown is in Countdown trouble. (Photos courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

Brown slipped to ninth among the 10 drivers eligible to win the 2013 championship, 124 points behind Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey of Fort Worth. At 20 points per round, that deficit translates to six full rounds of racing.

“We got our work cut out for us, but it’s definitely very, very possible,” said Brown, referring to back-to-back championships. “We’ve just got to be poised. We know we have the desire, we know we’re hungry. The thing about it, we’ve got to start creating our own luck on the racetrack with our performance. We’re really, really close to that, so we’ve got a real good shot.

“That would mean the world to us, to do it over again, because we know how tough it is. The one thing we got going for us is all the guys on our team have been there from last year and know what it takes to get the job done. Morale is just steady. We’ve been beat-up but that’s what I’m impressed about with the team we’ve got right now. Everybody’s still got their head up and we’re still working. When we get beat-down we just work harder. That’s what keeps me going, when I see how positive they still are; it keeps me energized.

“You’ve got to go out there and win rounds. Right now we’re looking at 20 more rounds of racing left. Shoot, it would be incredible.”

Former world champion Robert Hight (Funny Car) made it back-to-back wins at zMAX last Sunday and was joined in the Winner’s Circle by Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), former four-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and former three-time world champion Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Unfortunately, weather figures to be a huge player this weekend – and this time it’s not the typical Texas late-summer heat pounding The Plex’s all-concrete surface. Rain moved into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Thursday evening and Friday’s forecast is for a 100 percent chance of showers.

A Friday washout of the first two of four rounds of qualifying would leave Brown and all competitors in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle with only two rounds of time trials on Saturday. Given his miscue last weekend, Brown said that looms as a worst-case scenario.

“We have no room for error and that’s the craziest part of what we do in NHRA Nitro racing,” said Brown, 37, first African-American to win a major motorsports championship. “You’ve got to have the right power level with the right clutch for everything to work to the end of the racetrack. And when you’ve got only two runs to do it, you better have some good guys on your team. Our crew chiefs (Corradi and Oswald), they proved they’re the best in the business by winning the championship last year.

“We’ve just got to get on the right side of it as a team. It’s going to make it tough; there ain’t no more high pressure than that. It’s not just on them, it’s on all of us.”

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

AAA TEXAS NHRA FALLNATIONALS FAST FACTS

Billy Meyer’s Texas Motorplex is located at 7500 W. Highway 287 in Ennis.

POINT STANDINGS: Top-10 following the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and first of six races in the Countdown to the Championship:

Top Fuel _ 1. Spencer Massey, 2,174; 2. Shawn Langdon, 2,150; 3. Morgan Lucas, 2,144; 4. Doug Kalitta, 2,131; 5. Tony Schumacher, 2,112; 6. Clay Millican, 2,104; 7. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,087; 8. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 2,051; 9. Antron Brown, 2,050; 10. Steve Torrence, 2,044.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, 2,214; 2. Ron Capps, 2,132; 3. Robert Hight, 2,128; 4. Jack Beckman, 2,122; 5. John Force, 2,116; 6. Courtney Force, 2,106; 7. Johnny Gray, 2,102; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 2,101; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,057; 10. Del Worsham, 2,037.

Pro Stock _ 1. Mike Edwards, 2,194; 2. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 2,184; 3. Jason Line, 2,147; 4. Allen Johnson, 2,134; 5. Shane Gray, 2,110; 6. Vincent Nobile, 2,095; 7. Erica Enders-Stevens, 2,085; 8. Greg Anderson, 2,083; 9. V. Gaines, 2,074; 10. Rodger Brogdon, 2,031.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Hector Arana Jr., 2,183; 2. Matt Smith, 2,150; 3. Hector Arana, 2,147; 4. Michael Ray, 2,135; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,095; 6. John Hall, 2,094; 7. Eddie Krawiec, 2,085; 8. LE Tonglet, 2,082; 9. Adam Arana, 2,054; 10. Shawn Gann, 2,031.

2012  EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Bob Tasca III (Funny Car); Allen Johnson (Pro Stock); Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

MOST MOTORPLEX VICTORIES: John Force (Funny Car) seven; Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) five; Warren Johnson (Pro Stock) five; Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) four.

SCHEDULE:

Friday _ Lucas Oil Series Sportsman qualifying throughout the day; Mello Yello Series Professional qualifying at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m.

Saturday _Lucas Oil Series Sportsman eliminations; Mello Yello Series Professional qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

Sunday_ Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.; Mello Yello Series Professional eliminations at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION: Saturday, ESPN News will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 11:30 p.m. (EDT).

Sunday, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will re-air 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 3:30 a.m. (EDT). Sunday, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. (EDT).

TRACK RECORDS:

Top Fuel _ 3.784-seconds by Brandon Bernstein, Sept. ’10; 324.05 mph by Spencer Massey, Sept. ’11

Funny Car _ 4.062-seconds by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’10; 309.63 mph by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’11

Pro Stock _ 6.550-seconds by Allen Johnson, Sept. ’12; 211.99 mph by Johnson, Sept. ’12

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.828-seconds by Hector Arana Jr., Sept. ’11; 197.22 mph by Michael Phillips, Sept. ’11

NATIONAL RECORDS:

Top Fuel _ 3.701-seconds by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Concord, N.C.

Funny Car _ 3.986-seconds by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.

Pro Stock _ 6.471-seconds by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Concord, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.728-seconds by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.

TICKETS: Available from $10 to $380 for weekend packages. Youth tickets for children 12-and-under start at $5. For tickets or more information, call the Motorplex office at (800) MOTORPLEX (668-6775) or visit www.texasmotorplex.com.

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 20 2013
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