But so far, there's been no home track advantage for Top Fuel driver
Antron Brown's first memories of racing at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at Englishtown, N.J., are of flying over hills and bounding along on his motorcycle as an 11-year-old motocross racer.
Back then he still was looking ahead to being on the dragstrip where he had watched his father, Albert, and uncle, Andre, race.
"I started to run motocross when I was 11 or 12, and I knew I had to wait my time to get on the dragstrip because that where my heart was," said Antron, 38, who will start his 300th NHRA pro event on Friday when qualifying begins for the 45th annual NHRA Toyota Summernationals. "I'd always be out there with my dad and uncle when they raced, and that's how I got my passion for doing what I love."
One of the highlights for the native of Chesterfield, N.J., about 30 miles from Englishtown, was winning his only NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title there in 2005 when he was riding a Pro Stock Motorcycle.
"Englishtown always has been a special track. We knew when we were going to Englishtown we were going to a premier facility. It was one of the best racetracks and still is."
When the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion and winner of 44 NHRA titles, including the last 28 in Top Fuel, returns Friday with his Matco Tools team to begin qualifying in the Summernationals, he will be making his 300th pro start and be six elimination-round wins from logging his 500th.
And no event Wally trophy in Top Fuel would mean more than one from his home track.
"That's right up there with my favorites wins," he said of the 2005 Pro Stock Motorcycle win. "Anytime you can win at your home track it holds a special place in your heart. it was great to win it with my family and friends there.
"I've been in the finals there twice in Top Fuel, and when I can win there in Top Fuel it will be the icing on the cake for me. We're working hard for it."
Antron and the Matco Tools team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald along with assistant Brad Mason will arrive at Englishtown ranked second in points with a series-leading three event titles. They are coming off only its second first-round loss though eight events.
"Englishtown can be tough and grueling because the weather can be warm and humid or cool. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can go there and put down some great ETs."
Don Schumacher Racing