Baytown: Antron Brown final report

BROWN WINS AT HOUSTON, EARNS FIRST CAREER TOP FUEL WIN Becomes first NHRA driver to win in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle BAYTOWN, Texas (March 30, 2008) -- Antron Brown made NHRA history Sunday afternoon at Houston Raceway Park as the ...

BROWN WINS AT HOUSTON, EARNS FIRST CAREER TOP FUEL WIN

Becomes first NHRA driver to win in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle

BAYTOWN, Texas (March 30, 2008) -- Antron Brown made NHRA history Sunday afternoon at Houston Raceway Park as the 32-year-old raced his David Powers-owned Matco Tools dragster to the win at the 21st annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals. He becomes the first driver in NHRA history to earn wins in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle. He won 16 races during his 10-years in the two-wheel category.

After qualifying the Matco Tools/iLocate GPS dragster in the No. 12 position with a run of 4.644 seconds on Friday afternoon. The New Jersey native bested veteran racer Doug Foley, 29-time Top Fuel winner Cory McClenathan, perennial title contender Doug Kalitta, and two-time series champion Larry Dixon to earn his first career Top Fuel win and 17th NHRA victory.

"The dream is unreal," Brown said. "I dreamed about this as a kid growing up going to the Summer Nationals in New Jersey watching all the greats like Kenny Bernstein, Don Garlits, John Force and Don Prudhomme. I still ask myself, am I really here?

"It was unbelievable to qualify No. 1 at Pomona. We have a great team with awesome chemistry and I knew we could win. I didn't think it would be long term and we'd be waiting until the end of the season to win. With the talent around me, I figured we'd be in this position. This Matco team just has an awesome group of guys. I'm just so happy to be a part of the team here at DPM."

Facing off against Foley in the opening round for the second straight event, the drivers used nearly identical reaction times to start the race. Brown used a tune-up from crew chief Lee Beard to clock the third quickest pass of the first round, 4.591 seconds at 322.27 mph, to score the win light in the left lane. Brown edged Foley at the finish line after the New Jersey racer powered to a pass of 4.606 at 320.13 in his white dragster.

In a rematch of the quarterfinals at the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif., Brown evened his record with McClenathan at 1-1. The 16-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle winner clocked low elapsed time of the round in the Matco Tools/Valvoline rail. Brown got the jump at the start and used Beard horsepower to record a pass of 4.541 at 326.56 to hold off the hard-charging FRAM dragster, which recorded a run of 4.566 at 305.22. It was the first time that Brown has advanced to the semifinals since making the move to Top Fuel.

Competing in the semifinals for the first time since the Auto Club Finals at Pomona last fall, Brown used a consistent Beard tune-up to advance to his first Top Fuel final round and the 34th final of his career. Kalitta used a slight starting line advantage, but Brown clocked low elapsed time of the round in the Matco-backed rail with a pass of 4.570 at 321.88 to earn lane choice in the final round of the O'Reilly Spring Nationals. Kalitta trailed with a pass of 4.689 at 311.56 in his red dragster.

In one of the closest races of the day, Brown's Matco rail nipped Dixon's silver and blue car at the 1,320-foot finish line. Dixon got a slight advantage at the start, but Brown drove the Matco rail to a run of 4.605 at 320.28 to earn his first-ever win at Houston Raceway Park. Dixon narrowly trailed with a pass of 4.621 at 309.06. Brown is now 17/17 in 34 career final rounds.

"The competition is so stiff out here in Top Fuel," Brown said. "You have to have some luck and be good. That was a way close race and I didn't see the win light come on in my lane and I thought we had lost. I felt like I was back in Pro Stock Bike, but only going faster. I couldn't believe it when the TV cameras came to me at the top end."

Brown is the 10th different driver that crew chief Beard has tuned to a victory. The win was Beard's third at the Houston track. He tuned Gary Ormsby (1989) and Ed McCulloch (1993) to Top Fuel victories at the Baytown track.

"We chased our tail in qualifying, but we found some things Saturday night and changed them around and came out today and the car ran fantastic," Beard said. "It did everything that we told it to do and Antron did a great job of driving. This new Matco crew has really come together as a team and hopefully this is the start of many wins for us."

-credit: dpm

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Don Garlits , Doug Foley , David Powers