BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 12, 2013) - Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team have had a couple weeks off to regroup after the first two events in this year's NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
If any team at Don Schumacher Racing needed a break, it was the Matco team.
A major crash at the season-opener at Pomona, Calif., destroyed one Top Fuel Dragster and gave the Matco crew less that a week to prepare a new DSR dragster for the following race near Phoenix. That would seem to create a disastrous start to the year.
But when the team arrives at Gainesville, Fla., for Friday's qualifying sessions in the NHRA Gatornationals, Brown will be ranked third in the points standings. Despite his crash during eliminations at Pomona, Brown's engine explosion didn't detonate until crossing the finish line. He advanced to the semifinals but didn't have a dragster in which to race.
"Absolutely. We just needed a chance to regroup and get a chance to put a back-up car together. We'll be back at full strength when we get to Gainesville."
All things considered, Brown, the reigning Top Fuel world champion, is not complaining about arriving at Gainesville ranked No. 3.
"I'm feeling really good right now.
"I'm really looking forward to getting to Gainesville. It's always been a good racetrack for me. We've qualified well there but we haven't gotten it done there yet. I'm always excited to go back because that's one track where I haven't won a 'Wally,' " he said of the event winning trophy.
Brown was Top Fuel runner-up with his Matco team in 2010 and runner-up in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2006.
"It's always been a good racetrack to go to. It's just been one of those racetracks we haven't been able to conquer yet."
Brown's stay in Gainesville will include a stop Thursday night at the 2013 induction ceremony for the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame at the Paramount Plaza Hotel & Suites.
Brown will help induct the late Louis Senter, one of the original pioneers in the automotive performance industry. Senter helped develop drag racing around Los Angeles and was a founder of SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) and Ansen Automotive. He was passionate about racer safety and developed one of the earliest fire suits.
"It will be an honor just to be there," Brown said. "I'm learning a lot about Mr. Senter, and he did so much to help get the sport of NHRA drag racing to where it is today."
Don Schumacher Racing