BROWN EARNS THIRD POLE OF '09 SEASON AND 17TH OF CAREER ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. (May 30, 2009) - Antron Brown collected his third No. 1 qualifying award of the season Saturday afternoon at Heartland Park Topeka as the Mike...
BROWN EARNS THIRD POLE OF '09 SEASON AND 17TH OF CAREER ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT TOPEKA
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 30, 2009) - Antron Brown collected his third No. 1 qualifying award of the season Saturday afternoon at Heartland Park Topeka as the Mike Ashley Racing Matco Tools driver paced the Top Fuel field with a lap of 3.841 seconds at 315.71 mph on Friday evening at the Topeka track. It is the 17th pole of Brown's career and sixth in Top Fuel.
Brown's leading effort came under the lights on Friday evening at Heartland Park when the 20-time NHRA winner used a tune-up from crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald to power to the 3.841, 315.71 pass. Brown, who clocked the fastest 1,000-foot pass at 319.75 mph two weeks ago in Bristol, Tenn., has earned top speed of the meet honors three times this season.
On Saturday afternoon at Heartland Park, Brown was matched up against points leader Tony Schumacher. As did most cars in the third qualifying session, the Matco Tools and U.S. Army/Matco Tools dragsters lost traction. Brown was first to the finish line with a pass of 6.001 at 111.69. The track temperature was 114-degrees and nobody ran in the 3-second range. On the final qualifying effort of the weekend, the Matco-backed rail lost traction at the hit of the throttle as Brown coasted to a lap of 9.319 at 79.32 to remain atop the Top Fuel order. Only two drivers, Spencer Massey and Clay Millican, maneuvered the 1,000-foot course on Saturday. The Matco Tools dragster now has an average qualifying position of 3.78 in nine races this season.
"It always feels good to be No. 1 and we'll take it this weekend with the short fields, it's nice to have that bye run in the first round," Brown said. "We running in conditions we really haven't seen this year. It was warm a few weeks ago at Bristol (Tenn.), but the track conditions here at Topeka are really tough. I mean we backed it down a lot on that last run and the track still wouldn't hold it. A lot of good cars weren't getting down the track. I think only two guys, Spencer Massey and Clay (Millican), got down today. It's so tricky though, you can't back it down too much because it's a very fine window. That bye run is going to come in handy."
Only 15 Top Fuel dragsters are competing this weekend at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals. As a result of earning the top qualifying position, the Matco Tools team has earned a bye run in the opening round of eliminations at 11 a.m. (CT) at Heartland Park. This is the first bye run of Brown's Top Fuel career. He will face either Shawn Langdon or Terry Haddock in round two. Brown qualified fourth at the Topeka race last year and posted a semifinal finish to two-time Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon. Brown enters final eliminations ranked second in the standings and trails Schumacher by 43 points.
Brown's team owner, Mike Ashley, raced to his first career professional Funny Car win two years ago at Heartland Park when he defeated veteran racer Jim Head in the final round. Ashley won three races during the '07 NHRA season. Oswald, the second driver in NHRA history to win races in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes, is a three-time Funny Car winner at Heartland Park, 1989-91. He also earned the Funny Car pole at Topeka in '89.