NHRA NEWS: ANTRON BROWN WINS NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS TO CLAIM SECOND TROPHY OF THE YEAR
Schumacher got away from the starting line before Brown, but the 35-year-old New Jersey native drove the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster around him for the unique 60th-anniversary pewter Wally, winning by a .038-second margin.
“We knew we would have to step it up for the finals, because we knew the U.S. Army team would,” he said. “So Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald (co-crew chiefs) made the adjustments and we put on a hell of a race for the fans.
“Tony had lane choice because, although we both ran identical 3.880s to win our semifinal rounds, his faster (318.32 miles per hour versus 314.02) pass – against our other DSR teammate Spencer Massey – was the tie breaker.
“But we didn’t think the lanes made much difference. We saw Mike Neff run a 4.11 in the right lane during the Funny Car finals (where he lost to DSR’s Jack Beckman) just before we ran, so weren’t concerned about the lane.”
Brown posted a 3.856-second pass at 318.69 mph to Schumacher’s 3.905 at 315.86, eliminating Schumacher’s .011-second reaction-time advantage (.045 vs. .056). His march to the finals included round wins against David Grubnic, Shawn Langdon and Terry McMillen. He began the day from the seventh starting position.
“We had a great day today,” said the four-time Southern Nationals winner, who captured the 2001 and 2006 Pro Stock Motorcycle titles before defeating Schumacher in the 2008 race, his rookie Top Fuel season. “This is the only place on the NHRA Full Throttle circuit where Tony has not won; I told him I’d trade him an Atlanta trophy for 30 of his Wallys
“I’ve always liked this track (he was also a 2003 PSM runner up), which I see as a ‘backyard track’ like the ones I grew up on.
Today’s win, second of the season (Las Vegas last month, where he also had to defeat Schumacher, in the second round, en route to the finals) brings his career total to 11 in Top Fuel, with an additional 16 on a Pro Stock Motorcycle. He remains the first and only NHRA driver to win in a Top Fuel dragster and on a Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“The wins are great right now,” Brown said. “But when it all counts is during the last six races, during the Countdown to 1 playoffs.”
The top-10 drivers in each category after the first 16 races of the “regular” season make the Countdown. Today’s victory moved Brown, with 477 points, into second place, 70 points behind Del Worsham, who has three wins, and just ahead of Larry Dixon, Schumacher and Massey (respectively).
Brown drives the Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster into Kansas next weekend for the 23rd annual NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.