Three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown and his AB Motorsports team headed south from Brownsburg, Indiana to Bradenton, Florida this week for the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage. After a three-day test session, the week-long event culminated with a winner-take-all shootout-style race to compete for a $250,000 prize.
The Matco Tools Top Fuel team opened the week by laying down several quick and fast test passes after taking to the track for the first time since the 2023 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season concluded with the NHRA Finals in November.
After teams had a chance to knock the rust off, qualifying for the invitation-only PRO Superstar Shootout elimination rounds began on Thursday evening. In the opening session, Brown was on track to clock a solid elapsed time before slowing to a 3.740 E.T. right before the finish line beams, placing him on the bump spot in eighth to head into day two of qualifying. Brown found himself on the outside looking in after Friday’s first session where he recorded a 3.754 E.T., and dropped to the provisional No. 11 spot with two rounds to go before the eight-car field was set.
The Brian Corradi/Mark Oswald-led Matco Tools team returned to the starting line for the third qualifying session ready to throwdown and secure their shot at gunning for the grand prize on Saturday. Brown launched hard and kept his machine hooked up, recording a 3.710 E.T. at 333.25 MPH, which held up to be the second-quickest run of the session and vaulted Brown up to sixth place. In the final qualifying round, Brown made his best run of the weekend by dipping into the 3.6-second range. His 3.694-second pass at 326.95 MPH moved him up two more positions to start eliminations from the No. 4 seed.
The SCAG Pro Superstar Shootout featured several unique elements, including a ‘chip draw’ format to determine race day pairings, as opposed to qualifying order setting first-round matchups. In front of a packed house, Brown drew fellow multi-time world champion and former teammate Tony Schumacher as his first competitor.
Saturday’s elimination rounds posed a new set of challenges for teams, as it was the first time all week they would compete in warm conditions. Both Brown and Schumacher launched hard, with Brown securing the holeshot start but watched his chances go up in smoke when his machine lost traction early into the run and his opponent was able to drive away with the win.
“This event was a really great way to start the 2024 season,” said Brown, a 74-time NHRA national event winner. “We had good crowds, made good laps, and it was a major accomplishment making that eight-car field. There were big names that didn’t make it in, so just to make the show was a feat in and of itself.
“Bummer about the first round today. The track got tricky, it was the first time we’ve run in the heat this year and it just threw all of us a curveball. But, all in all, we feel really good heading into Gainesville coming up next month. Thank you to SCAG, Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage, Lucas Oil, Hangsterfer’s, Toyota, and all of our partners that contributed and supported this event. The fans really showed out. It was a great event with great weather, and it was really cool to see everyone get amped up for the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Series season. I’m really looking forward to Gainesville.”
Brown and the AB Motorsports Matco Tools Top Fuel team will return to Indianapolis where they will spend the remaining few weeks of the 2023-2024 NHRA off-season preparing for the season-opening NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida, March 8 – 10, where Brown returns as the 2013 event champion and a five-time finalist.
Qualified: No. 4 (3.694 E.T. at 326.95 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 5.221 E.T. at 142.55 MPH defeated by Tony Schumacher 4.116 E.T. at 275.73 MPH
ABM Communications PR