NHRA: Antron Brown ready to show what he can do
There’s one NHRA driver who might want to dust off an old UPS slogan and ask his large fan base: What can Brown do for you?
His fans would likely respond in unison: Win a second Top Fuel championship, that’s what.
Such is the situation for Top Fuel driver Antron Brown, who not only won Sunday’s opening race in NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., but has also taken the early lead in the six-race Countdown.
With five races to go for the championship, starting this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis, Brown leads Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher by nine points.
After that, Brown has a massive 82-point lead over Larry Dixon and an 85-point spread over J.R. Todd, who Brown defeated in Sunday’s final round of the Carolina Nationals.
Needless to say, Brown’s chances of winning a second Top Fuel title in four seasons (his first was in 2012) are off to a great start.
And if history is any indication, the odds of Brown delivering another championship could take an even bigger jump forward in this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in Madison, Ill., just across from St. Louis’ Gateway Arch.
Brown, who has four wins thus far this season, comes into Gateway having won the last three Top Fuel races there, dating back to 2012.
What’s more, Brown has the most Top Fuel wins (four) ever at Gateway and holds the Top Fuel track elapsed time record there, as well (3.737 seconds, set in Sept. 2012).
To top that all off, Brown set the NHRA Top Fuel national record for elapsed time (3.680 seconds) last month at Brainerd, Minn.
“You need to put your A game together to get off to a great start (in the Countdown),” Brown said in an NHRA media release. “You want to start off strong because it’s a sprint now.
“There are six races for the championship. Do the math. There’s (20) rounds of racing left, and the more rounds you win, the less other people have to catch you. Our main focus is one round at a time. We just let the chips fall where they fall, and we give it all we have.”
Brown now has 52 career victories: 36 in Top Fuel and 16 in his previous incarnation as a Pro Stock Motorcycle rider.
Brown had two of the toughest rounds he’s faced all season in Sunday’s semifinal round against eight-time Top Fuel champ and teammate Tony Schumacher, and then faced J.R. Todd in the final round.
“I’m usually cool, calm, collected and I’ve been in a lot of high-pressure situations,” Brown said. “(Sunday) first round, for the first time throughout any Countdown we’ve ever been to, I was thinking about what was at stake. I never do that. I just race. When I got back, Brian and Mark (crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald) looked at me, and they asked what happened.
“They looked at me, and they pulled the reigns in on me and told me that this wasn’t any different and to just do what you do. They told me to have fun with it, and that’s when I got back into my zone for the second round and had that same mindset through the finals, just to have fun. That’s the whole name of the game.”