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Defending Top Fuel champion Brown kicks off 2017 NHRA season with semifinal finish for Matco Tools team at NHRA Winternationals

February 12


POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2017) – The Matco Tools/U.S. Army Dragster, piloted by Antron Brown, has accomplished a lot as a team, but never a win in the NHRA Winternationals near Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, they will have to wait another year to achieve this goal.

“We’ve been in the final here and in the semis numerous times and we’ve never won the Pomona Winternationals, so this was one race we just wanted to win really badly,” said Brown, the two-time reigning and three-time Top Fuel champion.

Brown qualified third and opened his day with a run of 3.742 seconds at 321.35 mph that ousted Steve Chrisman. Brown then needed his signature quick reaction time to beat rookie Troy Coughlin Jr. with a holeshot in the second round. Brown clocked in with a run of 3.733 at 325.69 to Coughlin’s 3.727 at 327.35, but his reaction time of 0.030 of a second to Coughlin’s 0.106 made the difference.

Brown advanced to a semifinal matchup against Doug Kalitta who got the win a run of 3.698 (331.85) that beat Brown’s 3.731 (324.90).

“The car is definitely consistent, just not the fastest out here this weekend. This was a wakeup call for me, just to come to the first race and get back in the groove, and we learned that we have more work to do. I’ve got plenty of work to do and us as a team do as well.

“It’s a long season, but it’s not a bad way to start the season out, to make it to the semifinals, being one of the top-four cars, leaving here third in the points.”

Brown understands the importance of points as he was crowned the 2016 Top Fuel world championship just four months ago in Las Vegas.

The Matco Tools/U.S. Army team will be back on the track in two weeks for the second event of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season when they head to Phoenix for the NHRA Arizona Nationals.

“Phoenix is around the corner and we’ll just have to keep pushing hard. Another thing we learned this weekend is that the (3.6-second runs) are here to stay. If you want to have a car to win, you have to run in the .60s. With that being said, you go to work, keep your head down, you know what you’ve got to do, and I feel confident and love the guys I have in my corner and I know they know how to get it down the track – (crew chiefs) Brian (Corradi), Mark (Oswald) and this whole Matco Tools/U.S. Army. Now we head to Phoenix and it’s time to ramp up the game.”

TOP FUEL
Event winner: Leah Pritchett (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Pritchett (DSR), 3.672 sec., 327.90 mph

ANTRON BROWN: Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald: car chief Brad Mason
First round: BROWN (3.742 sec., 321.35) def. Steve Chrisman (16.117, 30.54)
Second round: BROWN (3.733, 325.69-holeshot) def. Troy Coughlin (3.727, 327.35)
Semifinals: Doug Kalitta (3.698, 331.85) def. BROWN (3.731, 324.90)
Qualified: No. 3
QUALIFYING
FRIDAY: 3.732 sec., 323.27 mph, (Session 1); rained out, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.695, 328.06, (Session 3); 3.715, 326.95, (Session 4)

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