Trevor Bayne pulls into tie with Regan Smith for Nationwide Series points lead

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While Kyle Larson won the race and accolades in Saturday’s TreatMyClot.com 300, the already tight Nationwide Series standings grew even tighter.

By finishing ninth in the season’s fifth race, Trevor Bayne moved up from second and into a tie for the series points lead with Regan Smith, who finished right behind Bayne in Saturday’s race in 10th place.

Bayne came into the race just one point behind Smith. He continues his outstanding start of top-10 finishes in each of the first five races: third at Daytona, seventh at Phoenix, eighth at both Las Vegas and Bristol and now ninth at Fontana.

Smith, meanwhile, earned his third consecutive 10th-place finish, having also done so in the previous two races at Bristol and Las Vegas. He started the season with a win at Daytona and was eighth at Phoenix.

Ty Dillon (8th Saturday) remains in third place in the NNS standings, six points behind the two co-leaders.

Chase Elliott (6th) remained in fourth, eight points back, while Elliott Sadler (5th) remained in fifth place in the standings, 11 points back.

Brian Scott (12th) moved up one place into a tie with Brendan Gaughan (15th) for sixth in the standings, each 25 points back.

Dylan Kwasniewski (11th) moved up from ninth to eighth, essentially switching places in the standings with James Buescher (16th), who dropped from eighth to ninth.

Kwasniewski is now 36 points behind Smith and Bayne, while Buescher is 40 points back.

Rounding out the top 10 in the NNS season standings is Mike Bliss, who finished 18th Saturday and is now 60 points behind Smith and Bayne.

Smith holds the tiebreak over Bayne based upon his win at Daytona.

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UNOFFICIAL Provided by NASCAR Statistics- Saturday, 3/22/2014 @ 8:16 PM Eastern UNOFFICIAL
Points Report
Auto Club Speedway
16th Annual TreatMyClot.com 300

Position Driver Points Back
1 Regan Smith 185 —
2 Trevor Bayne 185 —
3 Ty Dillon 179 -6
4 Chase Elliott 177 -8
5 Elliott Sadler 174 -11
6 Brendan Gaughan 160 -25
7 Brian Scott 160 -25
8 Dylan Kwasniewski 149 -36
9 James Buescher 145 -40
10 Mike Bliss 125 -60
11 Chris Buescher 122 -63
12 Ryan Reed 117 -68
13 Mike Wallace 115 -70
14 Landon Cassill 114 -71
15 Dakoda Armstrong 112 -73
16 Jeremy Clements 84 -101
17 Eric McClure 83 -102
18 Jamie Dick 76 -109
19 Jeffrey Earnhardt 75 -110
20 Joey Gase 73 -112
21 Blake Koch 60 -125
22 Derrike Cope 58 -127
23 Tanner Berryhill 56 -129
24 David Starr 39 -146
25 Daryl Harr 39 -146
26 Kevin Lepage 34 -151
27 Will Kimmel III 33 -152
28 Ruben Garcia 30 -155
29 Carlos Contreras 30 -155
30 JJ Yeley 25 -160
31 Jason White 25 -160
32 Matt Dibenedetto 24 -161
33 Mike Harmon 23 -162
34 Ryan Sieg 22 -163
35 Chad Boat 20 -165
36 Robert Richardson 19 -166
37 Scott Lagasse Jr. 18 -167
38 Ryan Ellis 16 -169
39 Martin Roy 14 -171
40 Tommy Joe Martins 14 -171
41 Carl Long 13 -172
42 Bobby Gerhart 11 -174
43 Kelly Admiraal 9 -176
44 Jeff Green 8 -177
45 Harrison Rhodes 5 -180

NHRA: Antron Brown takes major step toward team ownership

NHRA
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There will come a day that when three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown wants to talk to his boss, he’ll need to look no further than in the mirror.

The New Jersey native announced Tuesday that he has begun to lay the groundwork to own his Top Fuel team, eventually branching out from Don Schumacher Racing.

“It’s definitely exciting, but at the same time, it’s also nerve-wracking because the buck stops here right now,” Brown told NBC Sports. “Now the coolest part is you get to help and drive and motivate and push the team forward, to make decisions and leave a legacy behind for my family.”

Brown will continue racing for DSR this season while beginning the transition to eventual sole ownership of the new AB Motorsports in the future. Even when he officially leaves the DSR camp as a hired driver, Brown and his new team will retain a technical partnership with the Schumacher organization.

Moving toward team ownership is just a natural evolution for Brown, who previously ran his own Pro Stock Motorcycle team from 1998 until joining DSR in 2002. It’s also a move that potentially may lead other current drivers to start thinking about their own futures.

It’s no secret that many of the biggest names in drag racing – both drivers and owners – are getting up in years. John Force will soon turn 72, while Schumacher is 75. They’re among several others in the sport who are making contingency plans for their teams to continue to operate once they’re gone – and Brown wants to do his part to help the sport grow and flourish.

“When you’re able to have ownership, you’re looking at the talent coming up,” Brown said. “You’re able to reach down and see and give other people opportunities that you had. When I came to race for Don Schumacher at DSR, he’s given all these people at his place this opportunity to drive.

“But what happens when the Don Schumachers, the John Forces, the Connie Kalittas go? You lose all the owners of our series, so who’s next in line to take over that lineage or carry that torch? It’s a necessary means for the future for the upcoming people.

Antron Brown’s plans to become a team owner were embraced by his current team owner, Don Schumacher. (Getty Images)

“I’ve been in this sport for over 20 years. This is the next evolution of my chapter, the next page of my book. What am I going to do when I decide to hang the helmet up one day? I want to be there to bring that new crop of drivers and talent up and help mold them to be the best version of themselves to carry the sport forward and to share with them what was shared with me over all my years in the sport, from Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Big Daddy Don Garlits, Mark Oswald and Don “Snake” Prudhomme, all the people I looked up to.”

While Brown will start as a single-car team once he transitions to ownership, he hopes to eventually build AB Motorsports into at least a two-car operation, with his Top Fuel dragster and a Funny Car.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The path to eventual ownership began nearly a year ago when Brown and Schumacher discussed the future.

“Me and Don had a heart-to-heart talk,” Brown said. “When I told him what I wanted to do, Don said, ‘Antron, I know this is what you want to do. I’ll support you in this.’

“That’s a cool experience when you have a gentleman that has done everything in this sport, from over 350 national event wins, 17 world championships – and I’ve done three with him – and is in every motorsports hall of fame there is.

“What is he going to do next? He’s making the sport better by pushing people like myself to do what I’m doing now. No matter how long it takes, I know I have him on my backside, pushing me to get to that point.”

Like father, like son: Antron Brown and son Anson, who is following in his father’s drag racing footsteps. Photo: Antron Brown’s official Facebook page.

His family’s future also figured into Brown’s decision. His oldest son, Anson, soon turns 16 years old and is heavily involved in NHRA’s Jr. Dragster program, as are Brown’s other children. It’s likely his son some day will follow in his father’s footsteps.

But don’t think that the elder Brown, who turns 44 in March, is ready to hang up his firesuit just yet.

“I’ll stop driving when I feel I’m not capable to drive no more and I’m not having fun no more,” he said. “That’s nowhere in the near future. I know I’m going to drive for at least another 15 years.”

Heading into this season, Brown will retain current sponsorship from Mac Tools and Toyota, as well as associate sponsorship from Hangsterfer’s on his 11,000-horsepower dragster. Global Electronic Technology also has signed on as a new associate sponsor in a multiyear deal.

“It’s no secret this has been a goal of Antron’s for a while now, and I’m happy to be able to provide the tools and resources needed for him to be able to successfully branch out on his own,” Schumacher said in a team media release. “It’s important for me to see my team members grow.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Brown burst upon the NHRA scene atop a Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1998, earning 16 wins over the next 10 seasons. He joined DSR in 2002 and made the switch to Top Fuel in 2008.

Since then, Brown – who now resides in suburban Indianapolis – has gone on to become one of the winningest drivers in Top Fuel history with 50 national event victories, as well as three championships between 2012 and 2015.

That performance recently earned him AutoWeek magazine’s Top Fuel Driver of the Decade.

Brown also announced Tuesday he is reuniting with former crew chief Brian Corradi, who returns to the team after spending the last two seasons as co-crew chief for 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. Corradi will share crew chief duties for Brown with NHRA veteran Mark Oswald.

* * * * * * * * * * *

When he won his first title in 2012, Brown became the first African-American world champion in Top Fuel history. He hopes his move to ownership will continue to grow NHRA’s already significant focus on opportunities for minorities and females in the sport.

“I think it’s important across all spectrums, period,” Brown said. “I think a lot of fans see me, and they can relate to me because I am them. I came from a good, hard-working family in Chesterfield, New Jersey, which is right next door to Trenton.

“Everybody in my family from my great uncles to my grandpop made their own way, had their own businesses, from swimming pool to paving to septic tank businesses.

“One thing my grandpop said to me is the world is wide open. He said, ‘Son, you can have anything you want in this world, as long as you put the effort and put the work towards it.’ If people can resonate with my story from where I came from and where I’m heading, I hope it gives them this energy, this ray of hope that ‘if Antron Brown can do this, so can I.’

“That’s the only way for motorsports to grow. It’s for the young ones to get interested in it and I want them to know the opportunity is there. All they have to do is take it.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Brown will be among more than 30 Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers who will take part in this weekend’s annual preseason “spring training” test at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals Feb. 6-9 in Pomona, California.

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