Brainerd: Brown looks for bike threepeat

Brown goes for PSM threepeat at Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals. BRAINERD, Minn. - NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Antron Brown has been unstoppable at Brainerd International Raceway during the last two seasons. The 10-time NHRA national event...

Brown goes for PSM threepeat at Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals.

BRAINERD, Minn. - NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Antron Brown has been unstoppable at Brainerd International Raceway during the last two seasons.

The 10-time NHRA national event winner in the two-wheel category has won the last two bike titles at the scenic quarter-mile facility two hours north of metropolitan Minneapolis. He will try for the rare threepeat at the 21st annual Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals, Aug. 15-18.

Larry Dixon, Ron Capps and Bruce Allen also are the defending winners in their respective pro categories at the $1.9 million race, the 16th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. It is the 10th of 14 events for Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors.

Brown, who rides the Team 23 Suzuki, currently without a major sponsor, rates his chances as pretty good. He's claimed one victory in three finals this season and he feels like he's due a few more final round appearances. All he needs to do is hold off two-time series champion and current points leader Angelle Savoie. And then there's the ultra-quick Suzuki's driven by Matt Hines, Craig Treble and Shawn Gann. And, oh yeah, he can't forget veterans Reggie Showers and Steve Johnson.

You say: threepeat, no problem. Brown knows otherwise. "This category is so competitive, everybody is stepping up," said Brown, who broke even with Treble in two final appearances and lost to Savoie in the other this season. In his two victories at BIR, Brown defeated GT Tonglet last season and former teammate Tony Mullen in 2000.

"We are just as fast as Angelle down track," Brown continued. "But that team has been able to find some amazing horsepower for the first 60-feet. That's where she's got her advantage. That's where we need to improve. If you only worry about Angelle, you are going to get beat by someone else. Guys like Matt Hines and Shawn Gann are really quick too. You can't let up for a second."

And not being able to let up is nothing new for Brown, who has been pretty persistent off the track too -- trying to secure a major sponsor for the team so he can continue his passion in 2003. This season Brown has competed with a limited budget.

"I've had some really good friends provide me with help getting from race to race this season," said Brown. "Without some close personal friends and sponsor help from Mac Tools and others, I couldn't be out here right now. Unless I find a sponsor soon, I won't be able to race next year. I've talked with a lot of companies and it's just about time for them to start locking in their sponsorship plans for next year. I hope I am a part of their plans."

Brown says he hopes the right deal comes along so he can devote all of his attention to what he regards as the most important part of his duties -- driving the motorcycle.

"(Not having a sponsor) has put some pressure on me to perform, no question," Brown said. "I have been really obsessed with the end result at a lot of races and that is kind of a distraction because it takes away from my focus on the driving part of it. This season has definitely made our team stronger."

And that's why Brown likes his chances for a threepeat. Despite the lack of a major sponsor, Brown hasn't changed his plan of attack when he takes to the track.

"The main thing I try to do is stay focused and keep consistent," Brown explained. "You have to take each round and just race the track. My main goal is to keep being consistent and going to semifinals and final rounds. Hopefully the other challengers will stumble somewhere along the way. So far a couple of riders have been having the luck go their way. I need it to go my way a few times if I am going to win the championship."

As far as the drag strip goes, Brown loves his annual trek to northern Minnesota, an event that has an unusually festive ambience.

"Brainerd is a good track," Brown said. "Both lanes are pretty equal and there's no bumps. It's a little different atmosphere with all the trees making oxygen, so you can run pretty quick and fast. The best thing is the fans. The fans are really crazy there and love their drag racing. That's what I like."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Larry Dixon , Ron Capps , Reggie Showers , Shawn Gann , Craig Treble , Bruce Allen , Steve Johnson