Antron Brown Sees Promise in Semifinal Finish at PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals

Photo Credit NHRA

A consistent Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster carried Antron Brown to a semifinal finish Sunday evening at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. Brown and his AB Motorsports team battled hot conditions through three Saturday qualifying sessions and two rounds of Sunday eliminations before a rainstorm cooled off the Virginia track, allowing Brown to make one of the quickest passes of the event in his semifinal loss to Shawn Langdon. Brown, who has one national event win and two specialty race wins in the first nine races of the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season, moved up one spot to fifth in the Top Fuel championship points standings.

Brown raced to the provisional No. 1 spot in the opening qualifying session when he was the only driver to dip into the 3-second zone with his 3.903-second pass at 318.62 mph. Brown collected three bonus points in the process. He lost traction in the second session, but still held on to the No. 1 spot. A consistent 3.908 E.T. followed in the final session to put Brown in the No. 5 spot on the final qualifying order.

The Matco Tools team lined up against fellow Toyota driver Billy Torrence in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations. Co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald reviewed the data from Saturday’s first qualifying session under similar conditions and sent Brown on a 3.913-second pass down the Virginia racing surface to beat Torrence’s 4.121 E.T. Brown then met Tony Schumacher in the second round for their first meeting of the 2024 season. The Matco Tools dragster went straight down the track in 3.923 seconds to extend Brown’s head-to-head record over Schumacher to 42 – 34. A heavy rain shower after the second round cooled the track for the semifinals, where Brown recorded the second-quickest pass of the event to that point. Unfortunately, his 3.826-second blast at 323.35 mph wasn’t quick enough to get past Langdon’s 3.815 E.T.

“So close, so bittersweet,” Brown said of his semifinal finish. “I messed up there in the semifinals. Just missed the tree. The car ran well, but (Langdon) and the Kalitta car threw a great run out there too. The good part is that we can compete and we can run with them, and that means if we can run with them, we can run with anybody out there.”

Always optimistic, Brown noted that the conditions his team faced this weekend helped them prepare for the rest of the upcoming summer races.

“We learned a lot in the heat this weekend,” said Brown, who was hoping to cross Virginia off his short list of just two tracks on tour where he hasn’t won. “We’re getting ready to go to Norwalk with similar conditions where it’ll be good and it’ll be hot. I feel really, really good about our chances going to Norwalk. I just thought this was our day to win here in Virginia. I’ve been close here several times and never got it done. I thought today was going to be our day.”

Brown will chase his second victory of the season at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, June 28-30, at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. Qualifying begins at 6 p.m. ET on Friday.

Qualified: No. 5 (3.903 E.T. at 318.62 mph)

Elimination Round Results:
E1: 3.913 E.T. at 318.32 mph defeated Billy Torrence 4.121 E.T. at 274.44 mph
E2: 3.923 E.T. at 316.38 mph defeated Tony Schumacher 4.284 E.T. at 212.93 mph
E3: 3.826 E.T. at 323.35 mph defeated by Shawn Langdon 3.815 E.T. at 326.40 mph

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Point Standings (Unofficial):

1Doug Kalitta 751
2Shawn Langdon 684
3Justin Ashley 643
4Steve Torrence 575
5Antron Brown 542
6Tony Schumacher 522
7Billy Torrence 477
8Clay Millican 461
9Tony Stewart 458
10Brittany Force 425

ABM Communications PR

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