BRAINERD, MN – Antron Brown hasn’t skipped a beat. Fresh off of his 50th Top Fuel win from the previous event, Brown closed out day one of qualifying at the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway as the provisional No. 1 qualifier.
The driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered his 11,000-horsepower machine down the BIR track in 3.789-seconds at 325.45-mph during Q2, collecting three bonus points as he launched to the No. 1 spot.
Brown has raced to the BIR final round the past two years in a row, finishing as the runner-up both times. When asked how he and his team planned to take it one step further and finish the day in the winner’s circle this weekend, Brown said, “First you have to start off by qualifying well. I think our Q2 run is going to solidify us in the top-half of the field for sure. Our main goal is always to qualify in the top three so you can set your ladder up the way it needs to be.”
In addition to nabbing the provisional No. 1 seed, Brown officially clinched a playoff berth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship on Friday. With only one race left after Brainerd to set the Countdown standings, Brown knows he and his team must take advantage of every opportunity to collect points.
The U.S. Army driver trio of Leah Pritchett, Antron Brown and Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher are eighth, first and sixth on the provisional ladder, respectively, after the opening two rounds of qualifying Friday for this weekend’s 37th annual NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.
Schumacher and his U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, a three-time Brainerd Nationals winner, three-time runner-up and six-time No. 1 qualifier, opened the day with the better of his two runs, laying down an effort of 3.946 seconds at 308.92 mph despite dropping a cylinder. It was fifth-best in the opening session. “The Sarge” smoked his tires at halftrack during his second run and coasted across the finish line in 4.936 seconds at 144.27 mph, dropping down to eighth in the qualifying order by session’s end.
“We had a solid run despite dropping a cylinder, and then we missed the second one by just a little bit after seeing Antron’s run – it’s definitely a game of inches,” said Schumacher, who’s Brainerd victories came in 2000, 2004 and 2008. “We’ll see what we can do tomorrow in even warmer conditions, and then see how things play out on Sunday, which is supposed to be much cooler. The teams that can adapt are the ones that will benefit the most. We have the best nine guys in the business working on this U.S. Army car and I like our odds.”
– Leah Pritchett returns as the defending Top Fuel event champion
– All-DSR Top Fuel final in 2017 (Pritchett vs. Antron Brown)
– Tommy Johnson Jr. finished as the Funny Car runner-up in 2017
– Pritchett secured the 2017 No. 1 qualifier while also resetting the Brainerd International Raceway track record (3.640)
– Brown is seeking his third consecutive Brainerd final round
– Brown and Ron Capps enter the weekend as the most recent Top Fuel and Funny Car event winners (Seattle)
– Capps looks to continue his final round streak at BIR with his fourth consecutive final of 2018 (Denver, Sonoma, Seattle)
– Tony Schumacher leads the Top Fuel class in No. 1 qualifiers at BIR (six)
– Brown has been victorious in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle at BIR
DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.640-seconds, Leah Pritchett (2017)
BRAINERD, MN – Gaining momentum and maintaining it is the top priority this weekend for the U.S. Army Top Fuel driver trio of Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher, Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett as they head to Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway for this weekend’s 37th annual NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Nationals.
It’s the penultimate event of the regular season, which winds up Labor Day weekend with the series’ annual blockbuster event, the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, and Schumacher, Brown and Pritchett and their respective teams are down to their final two race weekends to put themselves in prime position when the six-event Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin.
Schumacher and his U.S. Army Dragster team for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) enter the weekend at Brainerd second in the Top Fuel standings and look to continue the qualifying consistency they’ve maintained all season while hoping to translate it into a pair of much-needed event titles before the playoffs commence. He’s a distant 161 points behind leader Steve Torrence in the Top Fuel standings but has Clay Millican and Pritchett looming in third and fourth place, just six and seven points behind him, respectively. While the top spot in the final regular-season standings might be a longshot, locking down the No. 2 position would put Schumacher just 30 points behind Torrence when the Countdown begins and the points are reset. A three-time Brainerd event winner, three-time runner-up and six-time No. 1 qualifier, “The Sarge” and his U.S. Army team are confident they can hoist their first Wally trophy this weekend at the track located two hours north and west of Minneapolis.
Auburn Hills, MI – Mopar power was strong this weekend at the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle as Funny Car racer Ron Capps took his Dodge Charger R/T all the way to victory for a milestone 60th career win.
The win in the finale of the three-race Western Swing, set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, was the ninth of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for Mopar Dodge//SRT Don Schumacher Racing competitors, and the sixth of the season for a Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car driver.
Capps squared off in his Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge Funny Car dragster with Jonnie Lindberg in round one eliminations on the track where he won his first race in 1995 (in Top Fuel). He made a 3.989-second pass to take the win with ease. In the second round Capps had to face off against his DSR teammate, Matt Hagan, the No. 1 Funny Car qualifier of the weekend. Another three-second pass gave the 700-plus round winner the victory and lane choice for the semifinals against Tim Wilkerson. Capps powered down the track to a 4.002 pass as Wilkerson’s day came to an early end with a major leak from the valve cover.
KENT, WA – With three out of the four nitro final-round entries coming out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable, team owner Don Schumacher was able to ‘double-up’ at the CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals, the final event of the Western Swing. Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) raced to the winner’s circle on Sunday afternoon, bringing DSR’s win total to an unprecedented 328 victories. It was Brown’s 50th Top Fuel Wally trophy, and Capps’ 60th professional Wally.
Brown opened the day with a win over Shawn Reed to set up a second-round matchup against teammate Tony Schumacher. Both cars smoked the tires early, but Brown recovered quickly to win the pedalfest. In the semifinals, he would face Steve Torrence in an epic matchup. Brown had a 0.020-second advantage at the light, then held off Torrence to win on a holeshot by 0.009 seconds.
In the finals against teammate Leah Pritchett, Brown took the immediate lead and never trailed for his third consecutive Seattle victory. The final margin of victory was 0.0047 seconds (approximately two feet) and enabled Brown to capture the elusive 50th Top Fuel victory he has sought since Brainerd 2017.
U.S. Army Driver Beats Teammates Schumacher and Pritchett En Route to 50th Career Top Fuel Triumph
For the third consecutive season, U.S. Army Top Fuel competitor Antron Brown concluded the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ three-race Western Swing in winning style. The three-time Top Fuel world champion captured his 50th Top Fuel win by defeating fellow U.S. Army Racing racers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher in the second round and Leah Pritchett in the final of Sunday’s 31st annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington.
With the victory, Brown joins Schumacher, Joe Amato and Larry Dixon as the only drivers in the category to have reached the historic milestone and also snapped a 23-race winless streak that dated back to his triumph in Seattle last August.
Schumacher was looking to make history of his own this weekend at Pacific Raceways. The four-time Seattle winner was seeking a fifth victory and tie Joe Amato as the winningest Top Fuel drivers at the track. He made four impressive qualifying runs aboard the U.S. Army Dragster for DSR and entered Sunday confident he and his team led by tuners Mike Neff and Phil Shuler would be a major factor in the outcome. He opened the day by continuing his dominance of Terry McMillen in the first round, winning for the 24th time in 27 career meetings, but it wasn’t the clean run he hoped to have. “The Sarge” hazed the tires near 330 feet and pedaled the car to post a lap of 4.137 seconds at 258.47 mph to advance past McMillen, who went right up in smoke at the hit.