(Photos courtesy NHRA)

2016 NHRA season in review: Top Fuel champion Antron Brown

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Starting today and continuing daily over the next three-plus weeks, we’ll break down the top drivers of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Each day, we’ll have one in-depth review of a driver that finished in the top-five in each of the four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), as well as select other drivers that did not finish in the top-five.

Today, we start with Top Fuel driver Antron Brown.

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2016_Antron_BrownDriver: Antron Brown

Age: 40

Hometown: Chesterfield, N.J.

Team: Don Schumacher Racing

Sponsor/car: Matco Tools dragster

Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi/Mark Oswald

2016 season finish: First in Top Fuel.

2016 season statistics: 24 races, 7 wins, 4 runner-up, 5 semifinals, 6 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier three times. Round-by-round record: 55 wins, 17 losses. Crowned 2016 NHRA Top Fuel champion.

Career statistics (includes both Top Fuel and previously in Pro Stock Motorcycle): 358 races, 61 wins (45 Top Fuel, 16 PSM), 47 runner-up (31 TF, 16 PSM), 74 semifinals, 93 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 47 times. Round-by-round record: 623 wins, 294 losses. 3 DNQ. Three NHRA championships (all in Top Fuel): 2012, 2015 and 2016.

What went right in 2016: Brown won his second consecutive Top Fuel championship, and his third in the last five seasons. … Won nearly one-third (seven) of the season’s 24 races. … Has become arguably the toughest competitor to beat in Top Fuel over the last five seasons. … Clinched the championship in the second-to-last race.

What went wrong in 2016: Very little went wrong for Brown. But, after winning the opening race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, Brown did endure a scare in the next race when he lost at St. Louis in the first round to Shawn Langdon, one of only two first-round exits for Brown in the entire season. He came back to win the next two races, giving him three wins in the first four Countdown races, and then he clinched the championship in the fifth race (Las Vegas).

What to look for in 2017: Once again, Brown will be the man to beat next season. He’s in the prime of his racing career and could very easily win his fourth crown in six seasons. He’s looking forward to reaching 50 wins in Top Fuel and could likely do that in ’17.

Season reviews already posted:

— Antron Brown (12/12)

— Ron Capps (12/13)

— Jason Line (12/14)

Jerry Savoie (12/15)

Doug Kalitta (12/16)

Tommy Johnson Jr. (12/17)

Greg Anderson (12/18)

Eddie Krawiec (12/19)

Steve Torrence (12/20)

— Matt Hagan (12/21)

— Shane Gray (12/22)

— Andrew Hines (12/23)

— J.R. Todd (12/24)

— John Force (12/25)

— Bo Butner (12/26)

— Angelle Sampey (12/27)

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Takuma Sato’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner Trophy (PHOTOS)

Photos; Walt Kuhn
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INDIANAPOLIS – Rather than the traditional December unveil, this year’s reveal newest likeness added to the Borg-Warner Trophy came Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Takuma Sato got to see the result of the sculpting done by William Behrends and then turned from wax, clay and ceramic into sterling silver on Tuesday evening, as the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil saw his face revealed on the trophy.

Sato took the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport to the win in thrilling fashion this year over Helio Castroneves, denying the Brazilian his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in the process. It atoned for his near-miss in 2012, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the team he’ll return to in 2018.

It’s been a whirlwind last week-plus for Sato, doing the podium interviews at the Japanese Grand Prix, reflecting on his Indianapolis 500 triumph, then sharing the victory spoils with another Japanese pilot in Yoshihide Muroya, who won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Indianapolis this weekend.

Photos of Sato’s face on the most unique trophy in sports are below. This post will be updated following tonight’s full unveil. (All photos: Walt Kuhn)