BROWN DRIVES MATCO TOOLS DRAGSTER TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT NHRA WINTERNATIONALS POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2009) - After five days of inclimate weather in Southern California, Mother Nature finally decided to play nice as 18-time NHRA winner Antron...
BROWN DRIVES MATCO TOOLS DRAGSTER TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2009) - After five days of inclimate weather in Southern California, Mother Nature finally decided to play nice as 18-time NHRA winner Antron Brown drove his Mike Ashley-owned Matco Tools dragster to a runner-up finish Tuesday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. It was Brown's 39th career final round appearance and sixth in Top Fuel. He now ranks second in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series standings with 90 points.
Racing from the No. 1 qualifying position for the second straight year at the season-opening Kragen O'Reilly Winternationals, Brown bested rookie driver Steve Faria on Sunday, Utah racer Mike Strasburg and 17-time winner Brandon Bernstein on Tuesday before falling to perennial title contender Doug Kalitta in the final round.
In the opening round of Top Fuel eliminations on Sunday at Pomona, Brown and Faria were the fifth pair of dragsters to do battle. The drivers used nearly identical reaction times and Brown raced the Matco Tools rail to a lap of 4.222 seconds at 279.79 mph to score the win light in the right lane at Auto Club Raceway. The Matco Tools car dropped a cylinder early in the run causing early tire-shake. Faria clocked a pass of 5.099 at 155.10 in his first career professional start. Brown made his 171st career professional start this weekend.
The Matco Tools team received a free ticket to the semifinals when Strasburg did not return for the delayed race. Strasburg, the owner of B&J Transmissions, had to return home to Utah to tend to his business. Brown, a former college track star, was the first driver to face the green Pomona race track on Tuesday morning. After a seamless burnout, the Matco Tools car overpowered the track at the hit of the throttle and popped the burst panel causing Brown to coast to a run of 15.892 at 26.16.
In the semifinals, two of the elite drivers in the high-speed sport used nearly identical reaction times as Brown used Corradi and Oswald horsepower to blast the Matco-backed rail to the second quickest 1,000-foot pass. The New Jersey native blistered the historic Pomona track in 3.778 at 312.78 to advance to his 39th career final round. It was Brown's 260th career round win. The Budweiser car lost traction and slowed to a lap of 9.268 at 80.92. Brown is now 3-2 against the second generation nitro racer.
Two of the better leavers in the sport used outstanding reaction times and put on a great race for the die hard NHRA supporters at Auto Club Raceway on Tuesday afternoon. After posting the stellar 3.778-second pass in the semifinals, Brown powered the Matco Tools car to a performance of 3.847 at 307.16 mph, but it wasn't enough to overcome Kalitta's slightly quicker 3.822 at 308.57 mph. Brown is now 2-3 in five races against the 31-time Top Fuel winner.
"This really was an awesome weekend for our Matco Tools crew," Brown said. "You can't complain when you go to the final round. We have a no complaining rule here at MAR (Mike Ashley Racing) and we're really thrilled with this long weekend here at Pomona. To qualify No. 1 and run that awesome 3.77 and get to the final round, we couldn't ask for much more. Other than being a few days late, it was a great start to the season for our Matco team. I told people we're going to have a strong team and I think we really proved that this weekend. With Mark (Oswald) and Brian (Corradi), we're going to be in the running all season long."
ESPN2 will televise 30 minutes of final eliminations highlights from the 49th annual Winternationals at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, February 15.
The next NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event is the 25th annual Arizona NHRA Nationals, Feb. 20-22, at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix. Brown raced to a quarterfinal finish at the Phoenix race last February after qualifying the Matco car fifth.