Eatmyink’s NHRA U. S. Nationals coverage: Top Fuel Car

Antron Brown drove to his second win in the past three races, earning his first Indy victory since 2011 at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

“You come here to Indy with 25 good teams, and it took a 3.75 just to get in the show,” Brown noted about the Indy TF field. Brown qualified No. 6 with a 3.712 at 330.55-mph pass.

That set up a first-round match-up with Gainesville winner Tripp Tatum. A side-by-side race followed, with Brown leading the race from start to finish. Brown left the starting line first again when he raced four-time and defending world champion Steve Torrence in the second round, winning with a 3.736 while Torrence smoked the tires.

In this video, Swedish Top Fuel star Ida Zetterstrom talks about how Super Street Bike prepared her for Top Fuel Cars:

Crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald made a big step up for the semifinals, where Brown made his quickest run of the weekend and second-quickest of the season, a 3.698 at 329.99, to beat Justin Ashley’s 3.714. “It was really tough winning the semifinals against Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect team,” Brown said.

Brown’s strong run of 3.706 at 321.66 in his Matco Tools dragster led wire-to-wire to knock off points leader Brittany Force in the final round. It also handed Brown his 70th career win.

The final between Force (near lane) and Brown

“That final round, it was the longest 3.7-seconds of my entire life,” continued Brown. “When that win light came on, I said ‘Look at what this team has done!’ It’s unbelievable. Thank God above, all the prayers, all the hard work. We’re making it happen. We’ve been working so hard for this. To be here in Indy, our hometown – I live eight miles from the track – I’m just super proud. My team did an incredible job. We did it. We brought it home.”

The final was Brown’s third time facing Force this season, and he’s won all three match-ups. It was Brown’s fourth time winning the prestigious Indy race, adding to his 2011 victory in Top Fuel and two wins in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Force reached her second straight final round at Indy, beating Dan Mercier, Josh Hart, and Doug Kalitta to reach the finals for the sixth time this season. She’ll also open the Countdown to the Championship as the points leader.

Brown will open the playoffs in sixth place, but the first-year team owner seems to be peaking after a fabulous weekend in Indy. The AB Motorsports team has made significant strides since starting the season. Over the off-season, Brown and the team assembled new cars and stocked new trailers with fresh parts and brand-new Matco tools. The U.S. Nationals victory was further proof that those efforts are paying off.

“At the beginning of this year, we started from scratch in putting this team together. But it’s all coming together. It’s a testament to all the work everyone has put in. All of these guys, they never lost faith and they never gave up. Heading into the Countdown, we’re going to let the racetrack do the talking, but we’re going to be humble, fierce, and give it all we’ve got.”

Brown was joined in the winner’s circle by his Toyota Racing teammate, Ron Capps, who earned his first U.S. Nationals victory in Funny Car driving his Toyota GR Supra. Both drivers branched out to form their own teams this season after racing together at Don Schumacher Racing for years. “We’ve always talked about it, if we can get in that winner’s circle together, that’s going to be a special moment,” Brown said. “To do it at the U.S. Nationals, you can’t ask for a bigger present.

“Starting with ‘Big C’ Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, and Brad Mason, all of our guys put that work in to get those results. That’s a testament to all of our guys and gals. My wife and my kids, we’re doing this as a family. It’s everybody involved. We never lost the faith. We never gave up.”

Along with his team and family, Brown praised sponsors and partners like Matco Tools, Lucas Oil, Toyota, Sirius XM, Hangsterfer’s, Darton Sleeves, DMPE, CNC Performance, and Western Tech.

“With the Countdown right in front of us, going from being 11th or 12th three races ago to being No. 6, I think we’re going to be in that conversation,” said Brown. “We just want to go out there and compete and go after that championship. That’s our game plan right now.”

The pursuit for Brown’s fourth NHRA Camping World Series Top Fuel world championship continues Sept. 15-18 at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.

Will Smith was unable to make his first Top Fuel field in Larry Dixon’s car.

TOP FUEL results

ROUND ONE — Josh Hart, 3.690, 328.70 def. Doug Foley, 10.670, 83.78; Antron Brown, 3.720, 330.15 def. Tripp Tatum, 3.737, 327.19; Doug Kalitta, 3.713, 328.06 def. Clay Millican, 3.727, 320.28; Brittany Force, 3.695, 334.98 def. Dan Mercier, 10.464, 39.99; Mike Salinas, 3.742, 331.04 def. Tony Schumacher, 5.072, 139.92; Justin Ashley, 3.690, 331.85 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.788, 308.78; Steve Torrence, 3.693, 328.62 def. Austin Prock, 3.774, 325.61; Billy Torrence, 3.740, 324.20 def. Leah Pruett, 5.129, 146.56;

QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 3.802, 278.92 def. Salinas, 3.989, 236.30; Brown, 3.736, 321.04 def. S. Torrence, 6.419, 109.56; Ashley, 3.697, 332.10 def. B. Torrence, 3.751, 323.12; Force, 3.699, 335.48 def. Hart, 3.719, 327.66;

SEMIFINALS — Force, 3.676, 335.07 def. Kalitta, 6.518, 137.60; Brown, 3.698, 329.99 def. Ashley, 3.714, 319.75; FINAL — Brown, 3.706, 321.65 def. Force, 3.714, 333.00.

Top Fuel points

  1. Brittany Force, 1,356; 2. Mike Salinas, 1,200; 3. Justin Ashley, 1,195; 4. Steve Torrence, 1,169; 5. Josh Hart, 882; 6. Antron Brown, 839; 7. Leah Pruett, 810; 8. Shawn Langdon, 809; 9. Doug Kalitta, 801; 10. Tony Schumacher, 703.

story by NHRA and AB Motorsports, photos by Tim Hailey

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