SEVEN QUESTIONS WITH ANTRON BROWN BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 15, 2009) - Antron Brown has a target on his back and he wouldn't have it any other way. The former track star at Mercer Community College in New Jersey leads the Top Fuel field into ...
SEVEN QUESTIONS WITH ANTRON BROWN
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 15, 2009) - Antron Brown has a target on his back and he wouldn't have it any other way. The former track star at Mercer Community College in New Jersey leads the Top Fuel field into the Countdown to 1 this weekend at zMax Dragway at Concord (N.C.), Sept. 17-20. It is the first of six races in the six-race playoff that will crown the 2009 NHRA champions in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
The second year Top Fuel pro has impressed since earning the No. 1 qualifying award in his first career Top Fuel race. After two wins and a fifth-place finish in his rookie Top Fuel season, the 23-time NHRA winner has put a tumultuous off season behind as his Mike Ashley-owned Matco Tools Top Fuel team has been the class of the field in NHRA's premier division. The seven-time Top Fuel winner has five wins in eight final rounds this season, along with claiming seven No. 1 qualifying awards. Brown also has clocked the two fastest passes in 1,000-foot racing at 319.75 and 319.22 mph. Top Fuel's new "King of Speed" is the only driver to surpass 319 mph.
In this Q&A, the popular racer discusses the 2009 season and offers his thoughts on the Countdown to 1.
Q: Were you surprised with the instant success of the MAR Matco Tools team with so many changes in the off season?
BROWN: We weren't surprised at all. In the off season, we put our heads down and dug deep at the race shop. Before everything went down, we made changes to make our car faster. I saw the ability of Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) right away and all of our guys jelled so quickly. They shared information and all we needed was time. Once we went to testing at Phoenix, it clicked even faster than I thought it would and we were all excited for this season and so far, so good.
Q: Has there been one moment that stands our for you this year?
BROWN: The one moment that really stands out to me was winning at Sonoma (Calif.) when we won the third race of that Western Swing. When I think about how our team fought for each of those 12 rounds and the harder it got, the more we stepped up. To have your name mentioned along with champions like John Force and Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon really means something.
Q: What makes Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald such a dynamic tuning duo?
BROWN: They compliment each other very well. That's the main deal. They don't have any ego issues and they have a great relationship. They see each other on an equal level. It's not often where you see two crew chiefs that share a room on the road and do things outside of racing. Besides racing, they're great friends. That a big key to our success, we all get along so well here at MAR and do things together off the track like ride dirt bikes and race go-karts and play basketball.
Q: How much have you grown as a driver this season?
BROWN: I'm constantly growing in my ability. Things that I had to think about last year, come to me easy now. For me, learning more about the race car has really helped me hone my skills and step up to the next level. I just strive to be the best. In this class, to continue to have success, you can never stop learning. I try to learn something new at each race.
Q: Are there any similarities in track and field and driving a Top Fuel dragster?
BROWN: The only thing I can see is from a mental standpoint. In track, you have to have quick reflexes from your calves to your toes. We use a lot of the same muscle groups when you hit the throttle and that's helped me in the reaction time department. The main thing is to stay focused. The mindset is very similar. You just have to react to what's taking place on the starting line. That's the biggest similarity. One bad thought can block your mind and be the difference between winning and losing on the track or on the drag strip.
Q: How do you feel about the new points system that begins at the Charlotte race this weekend and how does that change the team's game plan?
BROWN: It's a good change and something that our sport needed, but it caught us all by surprise. We figured that would happen next year and we'd finish the season with the current system. We should get bonus points for setting records. The new qualifying points system is kind of odd. It will just make us step up even more in qualifying to get down the track each time and it doesn't allow us to test on Saturday if we run well on Friday. All the runs count now and that's good for the fans. What they should do is include reaction time and elapsed time and reward reaction time also.
Q: Do you like the Countdown to 1 format?
BROWN: I really like the old, traditional format personally. That's the only marathon we have is having 24 races. Our sport is a sprint, but the entire season is a marthon. You have to do well in the heat and then also in really good conditions. It's like a final exam versus a quiz. But from a fan perspective, it gives the fans a fight to the finish amongst 10 different drivers. I'd like to see the Countdown with just six or eight drivers. That would really make things interesting. Like the NHRA ad says, you have to go full throttle or you go home from everything we've already worked so hard on during the season. This is the time we all have to step our game up.