The 46th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals at venerable Old Bridge Township Raceway Park takes place June 4-6.
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. — Antron Brown is approaching a massive milestone in his highly successful NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career.
With 49 career victories, the 2012 Top Fuel world champion is on the verge of becoming just the 10th driver to earn 50 wins. The 46th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals at venerable Old Bridge Township Raceway Park takes place June 4-6 and Brown, a Chesterfield, N.J. native, couldn’t think of a better location to earn the milestone victory in his 10,000-horsepower Matco Tools dragster.
But just the fact that he is approaching such an incredible level is still hard for Brown to fathom.
“I can’t even believe I’ve won 49 races,” said Brown, who has 33 Top Fuel wins and 16 victories in Pro Stock Motorcycle. “There wouldn’t be a better place for me to get my 50th Wally than at Englishtown. That’s where it all started for me. I remember riding my dirt bike there and watching my dad and uncle race at Englishtown. There are so many great memories there.
“I’ve been so blessed to be with our Matco Tools/U.S. Army team. All my family will be out at Englishtown and sharing that moment with them would be more than I could ask for. But our team has to treat it like another race. We’ll just put our Matco Tools to use, keep our heads down and go from A to B.”
Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), (Pro Jeg CoughlinStock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2. It is the ninth of 24 events during the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and Brown is already off to a fantastic start.
The current Top Fuel points leader, Brown was the first driver in the ultra-competitive class to win two events this season, picking up his 49th career victory in Atlanta. He was the No. 1 qualifier at the most recent event in Topeka before exiting with a second-round loss to three-time world champion Larry Dixon in a tremendously close race.
“We put forth our best shot,” Brown said. “It was a close race with (Larry) Dixon and they got us. We'll lick our wounds and go on to Englishtown and get back after it. All I know is it definitely makes our team a lot more hungry for Englishtown.”
Englishtown is certainly a track near and dear to Brown’s heart, but he’s looking for some recent success at the track. Brown hasn’t been to a final there since 2010 and is still after his first Top Fuel victory at the track.
He has two total wins at Raceway Park, both coming in Pro Stock Motorcycle, but will once again face a loaded field that starts with eight-time and defending world champion Tony Schumacher. Crampton claimed his first career win at Englishtown, becoming the 100th different driver to win in the category, and comes into Englishtown feeling good after winning the most recent event in Topeka.
Other standouts include Doug Kalitta, who won in 2000 and 2003, 2013 winner Shawn Langdon, 2011 Englishtown winner Spencer Massey, 2012 winner Steve Torrence, J.R. Todd and Brittany Force. But Brown will take plenty of confidence into the event thanks to a team that impresses him at every event.
“Out of all the teams I’ve been in racing with, (and) I’ve had some really good teams, but when you take all the guys we have with (crew chiefs) Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, we have the brotherhood,” Brown said. “It’s a family. I couldn’t be prouder and more blessed to have a group of guys like I have right now.”
That has led to immense success, including three final rounds and two No. 1 qualifiers in 2015, and now has Brown close to a huge career milestone. To get it, Brown and his team will continue to do what has been successful and that is work together and work extremely hard.
“We put our heads down, we all work hard and put that effort in,” Brown said. “These guys are very thorough and that’s the making of the championship team. We know what it takes to win championships, we have to take it one race at a time, one round at a time. That’s what we do. We’re ready to get after it. I am just so blessed to be able to drive this car.”
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon has three wins at the event and dominated the weekend at Englishtown last season, qualifying No. 1 and storming to the event win over Del Worsham. Four of John Force’s record 142 career victories have come in New Jersey, but he hasn’t won the event since 1999. Two-time and defending world champ Matt Hagan has enjoyed past success at Englishtown, winning the event in 2013, and others to watch in the class are points leader Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Alexis DeJoria, Courtney Force, Robert Hight, Jack Beckman, who won the most recent event and Atlanta winner Tim Wilkerson.
Greg Anderson leads the Pro Stock category with five career wins at Raceway Park, while teammate Jason Line has three wins in New Jersey. Defending world champ Erica Enders, who took over the points lead with a win in Topeka, is looking to add the Toyota NHRA Summernationals to her career victory total, while 2011 winner Allen Johnson, 1994 winner and recent Charlotte winner Larry Morgan, Las Vegas runner-up Vincent Nobile, Houston runner-up Chris McGaha, Shane Gray and Jonathan Gray also figure to be major players in the ultra-competitive factory hot rod class.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines took home his second Englishtown victory last season en route to his fourth career world championship. Hines is currently second in points to teammate and Bayonne, N.J. native Eddie Krawiec, a 2012 winner of this event. Former Englishtown bike winners Matt Smith, Angelle Sampey, Shawn Gann and Michael Ray will all be in pursuit of more success at the event. Meanwhile, Hector Arana Jr., Karen Stoffer, LE Tonglet and Scotty Pollacheck are among a group of riders who are ready to claim a breakthrough E-town victory.