Antron Brown lost a close final-round race in today’s 27th-annual NHRA Arizona Nationals here at Firebird International Raceway, but his overall weekend success allowed the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster driver to leave the desert on top in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship standings.
The 35-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver was edged out for the event trophy by Larry Dixon; the margin a scant eight-thousandths of a second. Brown posted a 3.967-second pass with a .067-second reaction time to Dixon’s 3.955 and .071.
“You’re always disappointed when you get to a final and don’t seal the deal,” said the New Jersey native. “You always want to win, but looking at the weekend in total – it was a success. We made up a lot of ground – 85 points in the standings.
“I’m not surprised about our results, because Mark and Brian (Oswald and Corradi, co-crew chiefs), as well as the entire Matco Tools/U.S. Army crew, have done a great job of giving me a great, competitive race car, regardless of the racing conditions, all year.
“It was hot all weekend and the track was tricky, but the guys got us down the track consistently well and quick.”
En route to his final-round appearance, Brown faced –and defeated – three drivers fighting for Countdown positions. First, it was David Grubnic, followed by two drivers directly behind Brown in the standings – Del Worsham and DSR/U.S. Army teammate Tony Schumacher.
The semifinal victory over Schumacher came on a hole shot as Brown made up a .015-deficit on the track with a .029 advantage at the Christmas tree.
In addition to holding off Worsham and Schumacher, fourth and fifth in the standings, Brown went around DSR teammate and the leader coming into this weekend, Spencer Massey, who did not qualify.
“It’s a shame about Spencer,” reflected Brown. “But he’s not out of it by any means – he’s right behind Larry now (Dixon is second, 20 points back, with Massey 25 behind) and for that matter, neither are Del (51) or Tony (91). Remember, we made up 85 points today!”
The championship battle resumes in less than two weeks on the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second-last race of the season.
“There are eight rounds of racing left (each worth 20 points) and our goal is to win at least six,” explained Brown. “We’ll just keep our heads down and keep marching.
“We’re going to do what we’ve done all year – work hard and do the best we can.”
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