BRAINERD, Minn. - Since 1999 when NHRA Pro Stock Bike rider Antron Brown began winning races, he never waited long to get into winner's circle. In fact, the 10-time national event winner has always earned a victory no later than June in each of...
BRAINERD, Minn. - Since 1999 when NHRA Pro Stock Bike rider Antron Brown began winning races, he never waited long to get into winner's circle. In fact, the 10-time national event winner has always earned a victory no later than June in each of his four previous winning seasons.
The 2003 season, however, has been different. Brown has yet to take home a national event trophy this year, but he has a good feeling that is about to change. Just before the recent event in Denver, Brown and his teammate - three-time NHRA Pro Stock Bike champion Angelle Savoie - announced that they had a new sponsor. The U.S. Army and Don Schumacher Racing signed the two-wheel duo to a contract that will keep the black and gold on the side of the bikes through the 2004 season, at least.
Brown said the deal will turn question marks into exclamation points sooner than later.
"If it wasn't for the U.S. Army, we wouldn't have been out here anymore this season," Brown said. "Now we don't have to worry about the budget. Now I can just go racing instead of thinking about how to pay the bills. It's a lot better already. We have a great team in Don Schumacher Racing behind us too."
Brown now has time to think about one of his favorite tracks - Brainerd International Raceway. The track will play host to the 22nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 14-17. Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Jeg Coughlin and Geno Scali 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 15 events for Pro Stock Bike competitors.
"I'm looking forward to Brainerd because we've done well there in the past," said Brown, winner of the 2000 and 2001 events. "We have to pull together and do our best. We are capable of going rounds and I think we are going to be all right. I feel more confident knowing that we are going to Brainerd, followed by Indianapolis. They are both good tracks and we have a history of putting up good performance numbers at both of those tracks. This will be a good starting point for us to gain momentum and make a run at the Pro Stock Bike championship."
After the first nine events for the Pro Stock Bike category, Brown is in fourth place in the standings. His teammate is in the No. 2 spot behind points leader Geno Scali. Shawn Gann is holding down third place.
"I've been dying to get back into the chase," Brown said. "I have been watching other racers do well and I remember when we used to go out there and we were the ones to beat," Brown said. "I remember running for a championship. When I go out there now, it has felt like someone was holding me back, like I was strapped down. That is all changing.
"We have some catching up to do and because I am so impatient, I want it all to change now. I want the horsepower and I want the bike to do well. We are putting a lot of hard work and hours into the program and that is going to make a difference soon."