There was no stopping two-time and defending NHRA Top Fuel champ Antron Brown in Monday’s victory in the NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire. That included beating two of his teammates along the way in the four rounds of eliminations.
After enjoying a first-round bye because he was the No. 1 qualifier, Brown defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammates Shawn Langdon in the second round and Tony Schumacher in the semifinal (the furthest the eight-time champion has gotten thus far this season), before getting past Steve Torrence in the final round to win the event. Brown now joins Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force as the only multiple winners thus far in 2016.
“It feels good,” Brown said in a media release. “We’ve been to a couple of other finals this year that we feel like we should’ve won.
“This was a great race weekend. We’re still learning some different things on the car and we are growing. The car is showing us great signs of being a phenomenal racecar thanks to the work my guys led by (co-crew chiefs) Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) are putting in.
“We’re reaping the benefits. We had a couple of rounds today that went our way and it felt good to be able to capitalize on that in the final round.”
Ironically, Brown advanced past Langdon and Schumacher when both drivers uncharacteristically jumped the starting line before the green “go” light appeared.
“When you are amped up knowing how important having good lights are, you’ve got to push it,” Schumacher said. “I’d rather stand here and be disappointed that we got beat by trying too hard than to get beat on a holeshot and be saying we should have pushed a little harder.”
Brown is now just 46 points behind Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta heading into Brown’s home track in Englishtown, New Jersey for this weekend’s NHRA Summer Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. It will be the 10th race in the 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Brown is the defending winner at Englishtown, where he captured his 50th career win of his overall NHRA career, first as a Pro Stock Motorcycle rider and then Top Fuel pilot. Since then, he’s gone on to win the 2015 Top Fuel championship and six other races (including his wins thus far in 2016).
And he comes into his home track on a big roll of late, having reached at least the semifinals, if not the final round, in each of the last six races.
“You don’t get more confident, you just have a little momentum where we’ve been going rounds,” Brown said. “We’ve been going a lot of rounds these last four to five races where we’re starting to get into that groove.
“You have to have some luck go your way, and you can set yourself up for luck by the way you qualify. With that being said, you have to take it while you can get it. This sport is the most humbling sport. We keep our head down and we give it all we got every single weekend.
“You always want more race wins and that’s what we are striving for. The competition right now is just ridiculous. It’s at an all-time high. There’s so many great teams that can come out here and set world records.
“To defend our title, we have to push ourselves to another limit. That’s what we’ve been working on, to be better than what we were last year. We just have to take it one round at a time and give it all that we’ve got each time.”
Here are the updated Top Fuel standings after New Hampshire:
- Doug Kalitta (785 points)
- Antron Brown (739 points, -46)
- Steve Torrence (658, -127)
- Brittany Force (623, -162)
- Tony Schumacher (483, -302)
- Clay Millican (475, -310)
- J.R. Todd (473, -312)
- Richie Crampton (450, -335)
- Shawn Langdon (399, -386)
- Leah Pritchett (360, -425)