Antron Brown, Don Schumacher Racing
Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster
– Antron Brown enters the 2021 season looking for his second consecutive Top Fuel victory after registering a win at the 2020 season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
– Brown has 51 career Top Fuel wins and can tie Joe Amato for third all-time in NHRA Top Fuel wins with his next triumph.
How did winning the season finale affect your team’s outlook in the off-season?
Winning in Las Vegas affected us in different ways. It definitely motivated us and gave us something to look forward to in the upcoming 2021 season. It made us feel a lot better going into the off season to put the work in. We knew what we were looking for that entire time. We wanted it to come quicker in 2020, but it ended the season on the right note.
What did that win mean for you personally?
That win was just getting the monkey off our back. It just felt like no matter what we did or how hard we worked, while we kept seeing it getting closer, but we just couldn’t get to that final stage. By breaking through we showed that we got back to the form that we used to be at. We know what we have to do in the future to work even harder and keeping pushing forward.
A lot of teams have struggled to maintain sponsors during the pandemic, were you affected?
No matter where you’re at in the climate that were in with covid and not having a full racing season last year, it’s difficult. It’s been a true blessing for us to have the partners we do.
With Matco Tools, Toyota and TRD, Global Electronic Technology and the Bryson family, and Hangsterfers, who has really stepped up their support, it’s just great to have a unique family and partnership to lean on. It’s gotten us through these tough times. We’ve also had Sirius XM come in. They’ve been in motorsports with NASCAR, but to have them in the NHRA is huge for the entire sport and we’re honored to represent them here.
What are your thoughts on the Gatornationals?
Gainesville is always one of our elite races. I consider Gainesville to be our Daytona of drag racing. Florida fans are like no other. They come out of the woodwork. Florida has so much drag racing history – Big Daddy Don Garlits is based right there in Ocala. Personally, I’ll always remember Kenny Bernstein running the first-ever 300 mph run there. We’re there at the right time of the year, kicking off the start of spring. It’s the Gatornationals and everyone comes down there ready to go.
Did your team experience many personnel changes this off-season?
Our Matco Tools/Toyota team hasn’t experienced many changes during the off-season. We had just two personnel changes on the race team. They weren’t big changes, but we’ll have a couple of changes. We also have some new things we’re working on this season to make us more efficient and achieve our goals which is winning races.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
We’re looking forward to just going out there and executing. Starting off the year where we finished off last year and just be very competitive and try to qualify in the top three each race. We’re looking forward in trying to bring wins home.
Has Covid affected the team this off-season?
Covid affected everybody this off-season. We thought we were getting better and better and then it just escalated and put us at a standstill. It makes it difficult when things are shutdown. But I think our team is resilient and we’ll just keep our heads down and keep moving forward. We’re really looking forward to getting to Gainesville. It’s going to feel pretty cool to start out the year with the Gatornationals and we’re just going to go out and give it our all. It will be different to start on the East Coast when we normally start out west, but we’ll be able to kick things off with one of our biggest races of the year.
You’re one win away from tying Joe Amato for third-place all-time in Top Fuel wins with 52 – what would it mean for you to tie him?
That would be huge. Just to be mentioned in the same sentence with Joe Amato. He was always a huge hero of mine. I remember growing up and he had the motto hang on Sloopy because here comes Joe. I remember him winning those back-to-back championships and being a dominant force in drag racing. He’s really a true legend of our sport. Just to be mentioned alongside of him is a great honor for me. Just to be on that list period, knowing where I’ve come from and where I’m at now. The way we fought through all the diversity as a team and went on to pull off that win at the end of last year feels like a real accomplishment. You have to go through things like that to be amongst those great. They went through a lot of turmoil in their time and I guess when you get that many wins, you’re going to go through some yourself. So I’m fortunate even to be mentioned with Joe, let alone to be able to come close to tying him.
Are there any new developments in the development of AB Motorsports? Has Covid slowed down the process at all?
Absolutely, Covid has slowed down the process. Covid has slowed down the entire world. It’s slowed us down, but it hasn’t stopped me from working toward my end goal is to have ownership one day. When that time will be? Only the future knows. We’re really pressing forward and, hopefully, we can reach that level sooner rather than later, but this year we’re going to be with DSR again with Don at the helm of the ship. We’re just looking forward to pushing into 2021 and bringing home a championship for everybody – for Matco Tools, Toyota, SiriusXM, Global Electronic Technology, for Hangsterfers and all of our great sponsors that we have with us.
Toyota Racing PR