NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series – Countdown to the Championship
Three-time Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown talks about the upcoming six-race NHRA Countdown to the
Championship playoffs, which kicks off this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
What’s your outlook heading into the playoffs?
“We’re going into the Countdown this year just like we do every year – head down and stay focused. The main thing is you have to be efficient. You have to attack every round like it’s the last round. It’s a simple mathematical equation for us. You have 24 rounds of racing – six races times four elimination rounds. Our main objective is to win as many rounds as possible.
“We know from past experience that if we can get 16 to 18 round wins that pretty much puts you in the hunt for a championship. Our goal is to get 20 and if we can do that I think that will be enough to give our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team another title.”
How has the team progressed throughout the season?
“We’ve been steady heading into the Countdown. We have a new combination in the car. We knew it was going to take some time to figure out. We never wavered and we never worried. We knew we had a lot of races before the Countdown and we changed things strategically throughout the year. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to at times, but those were the times when we did our most learning – and the results of the learning phase has been coming out the most as we were heading into the Countdown. We’re coming out and we’re putting our best foot forward each and every run. If we continue that trend, we’re only going to get stronger throughout the playoffs.”
It seemed like people started to write you and the team off somewhat during your early season struggles, did that surprise you after winning three world championships?
“You have people that doubt and they always go with the one who’s doing well at the time. The thing about it is we’ve been here before. This isn’t anything different for us. We’ve been to all these places before and been in difficult times before. The season is a marathon for the first 18 races. Now we’re off to a six-race sprint. We just wanted to make sure that we were ready to go when the Countdown started and that’s where everybody has to know that you’ve got set yourself up for that sprint. I think we’ve got our Matco Tools Toyota in a great position, now we have to make sure we have that kick at the end.”
How important is it to start the Countdown off strong?
“It’s very important to start the Countdown strong. You have to break out with a series of round wins. In the past when we’ve won championships, we’ve always started off the first three Countdown races really strong. We just need to focus on the first one, then, we’ll focus on the next one and then the next one. Hopefully, you can put yourself in position to attack the final three races and win a championship. At that point, you know you’re going to get everyone’s ‘A’ game and every round is so competitive. So we know that we have to take our game to the highest level. That’s what makes the sport of drag racing so great. It’s head-to-head competition every round at the highest level.”