Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (3.678 E.T. at 327.19 MPH)
E1: 3.723 E.T. at 328.22 MPH defeated Jordan Vandergriff 3.790 E.T. at 322.50 MPH
E2: 3.785 E.T. at 323.58 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 4.772 E.T. at 111.45 MPH
E3: 4.768 E.T. at 156.06 MPH defeated by Billy Torrence 3.757 E.T. at 324.44 MPH
Pittsboro, Ind. resident Antron Brown qualified sixth out of a loaded 21-car Top Fuel field at his hometown event to set up a round-one matchup with Jordan Vandergriff. Brown, a three-time Indy champ, was hoping to capture his first win of the year at the final event of NHRA’s regular season and looked to be in prime position after powering to a smooth 3.723-second pass to defeat his first opponent.
In the quarterfinals, it was the three-time Top Fuel world champion pitted against point leader and reigning world champion, Steve Torrence. Brown piloted his Matco Tools Toyota to a 3.785 E.T., easily defeating Torrence’s instant tire-smoker. Another heavy hitter faced Brown in the semifinals, this time it was Torrence’s dad, Billy. Brown moved first but hazed the tires before the 660-foot cone, and his fellow Countdown contender was able to drive away with the clean round win.
Brown entered race day at the Big Go sitting fifth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship standings, but his march to the semifinals allowed him to bank an additional 90 points to his running total and helped him maneuver from fifth up to third to start the playoff battle.
“Anytime we make it to the semifinals is a good day. Of course, we wanted to win the U.S. Nationals, but the track got a little tricky. We’re just going to keep on working. We’re getting better and better, and the positive is, we moved up to third in the rankings, so that puts us up there closer with the front-runners. We’ve got a good game plan heading into Reading, so we’ll do our best to execute that and see what we can do. I think as the weather gets cooler and cooler as we close out our season, we’ll really be able to run good, and I think we’ll be right there with everyone.
“Moving into the ‘top three’ today was huge. Those are points you can’t make up; every point counts, and it’s a chess game. There are 24 rounds of available points, so if you start off in the lead, you’ve already got one round ahead of the person behind you. So, for us, we’re going to try and catch Steve (Torrence) and get in front and maintain that lead. If you win those first few races, that puts you in a good position to race the last three with confidence, and that’s our game plan.”