NHRA: Antron Brown ready to cast Charlotte’s web

Photos: Toyota Racing
0 Comments

Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown is getting ready to do his best Spiderman imitation: he intends on casting out a web to lure opponents into a false sense of security in this weekend’s NGK Spark Plus NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

Given that the host facility, zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, is a suburb of Charlotte, you might say Brown is throwing out a Charlotte’s web of sorts.

And for good reason: he’s the winningest Top Fuel driver at zMAX Dragway since the NHRA first began racing there a decade ago, with five triumphs – including victories in the 2014 and 2015 Four-Wide Nationals (also won non-four-wide races there in 2011, 2015 and 2016).

Even though he’s originally from New Jersey and now lives in suburban Indianapolis, it’s very clear Brown feels right at home in Charlotte. And given how he’s coming off his first final round appearance of the season two weeks ago at Houston, he’s ready to make it win No. 6 at zMAX.

Charlotte has always been a real special place for our Matco Tools Toyota team,” Brown told NBC Sports. “The city has such a rich race history from NASCAR to bringing NHRA there for one of our biggest races of the year in the Four-Wide Nationals.

So every time you go to Charlotte, you always want to show out and stake your claim to a little bit of history in one of the meccas of racing. There’s no secret that you want to bring you’re A game.”

But the Don Schumacher Racing pilot isn’t living in the past notoriety of his five prior wins at Charlotte.

You don’t really think about that: the focus is on winning the next Charlotte,” Brown said. “So going there into this year’s Four Wide nationals, our mindset is to go there heads down and pedal down, and, hopefully, at the end of the day, you’re sitting on the top of the mountain.

We’ve had a lot of success there because we’ve had a mindset of one team, one mind and one focus to go there and compete at a high level.”

Not only must Brown forget about his past success at Charlotte, he also has to forget about the struggles he had last season. He won just once (Seattle), an uncharacteristic performance drop after having won at least four races or more in the previous seven seasons – including six or more wins in five of those seasons.

We’ve been going through a lot of adversity and we’ve just been fighting through it as a unit together,” Brown said. “Last year was a learning year. We started the year off with just two people in the same positions they were in 2017 – (crew chief) Mark Oswald and myself. Everyone else was in a new position with new responsibilities.

It was a growing experience for everyone on the team and all it takes is one thing to go wrong to end your day.

He also finished an uncharacteristic sixth in the overall 2018 standings in the 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Yet, we were still competitive all year,” Brown said. “This year, everybody is in the same place and we’ve shown some real good speed at times, but we need to keep improving our consistency and, hopefully, get some good luck to go our way. We just want to keep building off of Houston.”

With his Houston runner-up finish, Brown feels strongly that he has turned the corner from last year’s struggles and is prepared to go on a tear. He has 50 career Top Fuel wins, good for fourth on the all-time Top Fuel wins list, just two victories behind third-ranked Joe Amato. Brown also earned 16 career NHRA wins in his previous stint racing a Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Houston gave us some momentum, now we need to start where we left off there,” he said. “We just need to keep getting better. That’s the name of the game.

It’s still early in the season and we want to keep improving the car. I’m proud of my boys. They were up late Saturday night in (Houston), where they rebuilt the whole clutch system. Now the car is doing the things we want it to do. We’re on the road to recovery and we’re going to keep pressing.

The main thing is just making it to the finals. Once you get to the finals, it’s anybody’s game. There’s so much parity in Top Fuel right now. We have had five different winners in the first five races and there are at least five more teams out here who have proven they are capable of winning. We’re looking to get back into the winner’s circle soon and then we want to be able to go out and compete for our fourth championship.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
0 Comments

The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)